TW/CW: This episode contains explicit content regarding allegations of rape and racial violence.
In this minisode, we learn about the 1919 murder of Will Brown after he is accused of rape by a white woman, Agnes Loeback Hoffman. What follows is known as the Omaha Race Riot of 1919—one of the most grotesque incidents of white supremacist violence in U.S. history (and that's saying a lot because that history runs DEEP). The background of this story includes political power struggles and the use of sexual violence allegations by white women to target Black men, both of which figured prominently in the murder of Black men in this era. Horrifyingly, many of these themes of racism and political power still echo in the stories of murder we see involving Black and Brown men and women today. Special shout out to Amber Ruffin and Lacey Lamar, whose new book You'll Never Believe What Happened to Lacey: Crazy Stories About Racism brings us up to speed on the current state of white supremacy in Omaha. Spoiler alert: it's still there.
We could all use a little inspiration and hope, and Bree Carlson brings them both. Bree has been a racial justice educator and organizer for years and currently works with People's Action—a multi-racial, multigenerational coalition engaged in "joyful rebellion." She talks with us about multi-issue, multi-identity organizing, how Joe Biden's presidency could be the most progressive presidency in our history, and how to win where we can—but always keep insisting on more. Our conversation only scratches the surface and we can't wait to have her back!
We cannot adequately explain how excited we are to put out this episode with guest host, Kate Schatz. Best selling author, educator and co-conspirator, Kate has graciously offered her time and knowledge to inspire us with stories of lesser-known white women from whom we can actually learn some positive lessons. In our inaugural laundry session with Kate, we are learning about Lillian Smith. Coined “Jane the Baptist”, a woman who came “too soon” for her Southern contemporaries, and indeed the country as a whole, Lillian boldly spoke against segregation throughout her life. She eschewed moderation and was one of the first people to talk about the pathology of white supremacy and the damage it caused to the country and individuals. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin considered her a friend of the Civil Rights Movement, but her refusal to compromise in her views kept her from more well known histories. She also connected with fellow closeted lesbians and political powerhouses Pauli Murray and Eleanor Roosevelt. Take a deeper dive into Lillian’s life and history with her essay "The Right Way Is Not A Moderate Way" (1956) and the documentary Breaking the Silence. And be sure to follow Kate Schatz @k8hshots on Instagram, @kateschatz on Twitter and at www.kateschatz.com. We look forward to more conversations about white women who refused to participate in white supremacy!
If you haven't heard of Rachel Hollis—good for you, wear that badge with pride. However... she's definitely piling up the dirty laundry and making a damn mess, in spite of the fact that she has a housekeeper (it's related, just listen). If you're still confused after this episode, and even if you aren't, please also listen to some of the black and brown women that have broken this issue down very succinctly for us. Follow them, support them monetarily, spread their work. And Rachel/Rachel fans—don't worry so much about washing your face. There's a lot of other dirt you need to worry about. To learn more, check out Black and Brown racial justice educators: According to Weeze, Check Your Privilege, and Austin Channing Brown.
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 put America (and specifically the deep South) on a voting restriction time out. Unfortunately, white supremacy is a petulant toddler and didn't learn a damn thing. We talk about exactly what the Voting Rights Act did, how Shelby County v. Holder gutted it, the recent legislation in Georgia, and how we ran right back to our present day fuckery.
We've already warned you: beware of white ladies and anniversaries. We're here to tell you that this applies to marble statues, too. Learn all about the Portrait Monument in this minisode—a piece commissioned by Alice Paul to commemorate Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony...and some nebulous pile of unfinished rock looming behind them, whose meaning is up for debate (according to us). What do you think we should do with these statues? How do they influence our memory of history? Thanks to historian Lisa Tretault, author of The Myth of Seneca Falls: Memory and the Woman's Suffrage Movement, 1848-1898, for her writing about this problematic hunk of rock.
With the poll tax repealed, what would white women turn their attention to next in the fight for voting rights? Good question. Without a good answer. In this episode we discuss disenfranchisement of Asian communities and then get into the Civil Rights movement as it related to voting rights up to the 1960s. Whether it be historians leaving out the details, or the general absence of white women in the fight for rights that weren’t directly related to them, there’s not a lot to find. In this episode we go through some of the background and tragedy that led to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. We discuss literacy tests, the march from Selma to Montgomery, Shout outs to the fantastic documentary All In: The Fight for Democracy.
This is our first Local Laundry minisode and we're starting in Atlanta. With heavy and very angry hearts, we discuss the latest act of white-male-supremacist-terrorism and murder in Atlanta last week and why we need to educate ourselves and watch our reactions to the news coming out of this latest incident of AAPI hate crimes. Then Katy teaches us about the Atlanta Race Riot of 1906. We've mentioned it before, and we will keep getting deeper into this framing of "protecting white women virtue" leading to horrific violence and crimes against minorities. This is one truly awful example of that nonsense.
To learn more about AAPI histories, check out these resources:
The 19th Amendment passed in 1920, but, as one of the few things we probably do remember from history class, that definitely wasn’t the end of the fight for voting rights. And although we learned the names of the prominent women of the suffrage movement (leaving out their racism and classism, of course), we didn’t hear much about the actions of white women in the years after suffrage “won.” In this episode, we discuss where white women got involved in the movement against voter suppression, where they didn’t, and why both were problematic. There were some efforts to be more inclusive of Black women in parts of this effort, but the old white woman habits of capitulating to white supremacy were still around. We’re not shocked anymore, but we’re still disgusted. Shout out to legal scholars Ronnie Podolefsky and Sarah Wilkerson-Freeman for their super helpful articles shining a light on white women's fuckery related to the poll tax.
Podolefsky, R. L. (1997). Illusion of suffrage: Female voting rights and the women's poll tax repeal movement after the Nineteenth Amendment. Notre Dame L. Rev., 73, 839.
Wilkerson-Freeman, S. (2002). The second battle for woman suffrage: Alabama white women, the poll tax, and VO Key's master narrative of southern politics. The Journal of Southern History, 68(2), 333-374.
Virginia Durr and Rosa Parks in 1981—three years before Mississippi ratified the 19th Amendment.