Windy City Media Group Frontpage News

THE VOICE OF CHICAGO'S GAY, LESBIAN, BI, TRANS AND QUEER COMMUNITY SINCE 1985

home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2022-03-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
Donate

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Lesbian feminist Barbara Smith remains focused
by Sarah Toce
2015-02-11

This article shared 5690 times since Wed Feb 11, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Steadfast Black lesbian feminist activist Barbara Smith has never colored in the lines, and after 40 years fighting for equal rights, she isn't about to start now.

"I see all of my work as being connected. So although some people would say, 'You're a publisher;' 'you're a Black feminist activist;' 'you were involved in the civil-rights movement, but also in the LGBT movement;' you were involved in building Black feminism and Black women's studies.'… I see all of those things as being connected," Smith said. "Because they certainly were driven by my sense of priorities and consciousness about what I thought was important to do at the time. And all of the work that I've done certainly has a multi-issue perspective, an inclusive perspective, and a coalition-building perspective."

Becoming an elected official seemed the logical next step for Smith in the early 2000s.

"I ran for office for the first time in 2005. I'm no longer an elected official, but [for a time] I was on our city council—it was called the Common Council," Smith said. "I saw the work as an elected official as being very connected to the Black feminist organizing and the commitment that I had."

While connected to the work she'd engaged in pre-public life, some things were different.

"It was different because it was basically working on reforms and policy changes as opposed to working on movement issues. I sponsored legislation about immigrant rights the year before Arizona came out with their really, really repressive anti-immigrant legislation. Now, the resolution that I sponsored, it was virtually the opposite of what Arizona came out with a year later," Smith explained. "We talked about not profiling people… Even though we talked about how law enforcement should deal with people who they encountered who they thought that might be an immigrant or who might not have legal status as a resident of the United States, it did not have the force of law. But at least it was on paper—it was something that came out of the legislative body of the Common Council."

In addition to immigration reform, Smith also championed the fight to stop the spread of gun violence and worked to understand and implement change in the criminal justice system.

"One of my particular focuses on the Council were things having to do with violence—specifically gun violence—and also issues concerning the criminal justice system and policing," Smith said. "My experience working on violence against women stood me in very good stead around the kinds of work that I was doing [regarding] another kind of violence, which was violence connected to—generally to young men of color, but sometimes to young women of color living in our economically challenged communities, the kind of violence that has characterized our urban settings for many years, unfortunately."

The impetus for Smith's latest role as author in Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around stemmed from a colleague's suggestion over coffee.

"There was an editor at SUNY Press who contacted me in late 2007: Laren McLaughlin. Laren studied women's studies and African-American studies in graduate school and was quite familiar with my work, and proposed doing a book together," Smith said.

That was nearly eight years ago, and the landscape of the world has changed.

"I think that what's going on nationally in this country is because a number of very flagrant incidents of police killings of young Black men have been in close proximity to each other—including one who's 12 years old from my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. Two grand juries in two different parts of the country not indicting either one of the officers in both of those killings, in Ferguson and in Staten Island…they saw that those deaths were justified," Smith said. "I was just watching the news and they were talking about the findings in a case in Los Angeles, which I had not been even aware of until I watched the news. It's hard to keep up with them all, but to me what all of these incidents show are the fault lines of living in a country that is still under white supremacy. The system of white supremacy has never been eradicated in this country. The Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, the Black Nationalist movement, all of that still has not—even with changes and laws, even with the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act—white supremacy is intact."

Smith further explained, "Every so often white supremacy is going to rear its ugly head—and that's really what we're dealing with. We're also dealing with the legacy of enslavement in relationship to people of African heritage. I see the condition of Black people of African heritage, Black people in this country, as far as their economic status; their social status; issues of violence; issues of joblessness and unemployment; our health profile, health disparities; you name it, it's all a part of that legacy of enslavement."

Smith submerges herself into the topic of white supremacy in Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.

"I live in a poor Black community in the city of Albany and have for most of the time I've lived in Albany," Smith said. "I've lived in Albany for 30 years and I've lived in Arbor Hill since 1987. I consider the problems that face this community, the problems that I was charged with trying to address as the elected representative from this community, I see them on a direct-line continuum from the antebellum period right until now.

"And I know that's not a perspective that people, particularly people on the Right have, because they think everything got solved. They really think everything got solved with public accommodations, the eradication of official Jim Crow, with desegregation, with affirmative action; they think everything's taken care of and they think that those of us who are not suffering from those delusions are just complaining and that we have no clue.

"There's a huge amount of racial polarization, and that is being manifested during this time; totally different points of view about the police and about the criminal justice system, and about all kinds of things that have to do with people's objective material conditions and their status in U.S. society. People have yet to grapple with the incredible gulf that is still the result of race, class, gender, sexual orientation, etc. They have yet to deal with that in a profound way, and as I said this is a particular historical period when they just couldn't keep the curtains closed on it."

The generation to fire up the movement in 2015 is the youth, Smith added.

"These movements all over the country, young people are at the helm of them," Smith said. "And so are women and so are people who identify as queer. It's really kind of exciting when you get right down to it, to see that kind of leadership, the circumstances and the conditions that people are protesting—including myself—that people are protesting are very, very dire, and who knows how they will be addressed given that root causes like systematic and structural white supremacy are not necessarily what the system wants to address and grapple with.

"Young people who are keeping this going in Ferguson, in Oakland in California, and Los Angeles, and New York City and Albany, where I live, all over this country; in Florida, the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, there's just a lot that's going on that is very, very, very inspiring to me, and that I also see as connected to the work and the legacy of those of us who spoke out as young feminists of color back in the '70s and into the early '80s."

Not easily dismayed, Smith is finding inspiration in the current movements of our time by the sheer force of being alive to witness them.

"I always feel politically encouraged even in the worst of moments. And I see a lot of brilliance out there, I see a lot of commitment, I see a lot of courage," she said.

Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around is available via SUNY Press at www.BarbaraSmithAintGonna.com .


This article shared 5690 times since Wed Feb 11, 2015
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Jodie Foster to star in fourth season of 'True Detective' 2022-05-26
- The Silence of the Lambs star Jodie Foster is to lead the fourth iteration of HBO's True Detective franchise, True Detective: Night Country, Deadline reported. Foster, who will also executive-produce, will play Detective Liz Danvers in ...


Gay News

THEATER Lesbian-cruise drama 'Seven Days at Sea' running thru June 5 2022-05-25
- Light and Sound Productions is running the world premiere of Seven Days at Sea, written by Martha Hansen and directed by Margaret Knapp, through Sunday, June 5, at The Edge Theater, 5451 N. Broadway. The performance ...


Gay News

Gayla Turner talks new book uncovering her grandmother's secret queer identity 2022-05-23
- In Gayla Turner's debut book, Don't You Dare: Uncovering Lost Love (BookBaby, May 24), she reveals her Grandmother Ruby's (1896-1977) century-old secret queer identity that she hid from the wider world. This revelation became c ...


Gay News

TELEVISION Kate McKinnon, Pete Davidson and others to exit 'SNL' 2022-05-20
- In a major shake-up on the long-running hit Saturday Night Live (or SNL), several of the main stars are leaving—including out cast member Kate McKinnon, Deadline reported. McKinnon, Aidy Bryant, Kyle Mooney and Pete Davidson (who's ...


Gay News

For International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia HRC highlights grants 2022-05-17
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, is commemorating International Day Against ...


Gay News

Five Worth Finding: Chocolate festival, lesbian sci-fi film, 'Smahtguy' 2022-05-16
- —The Long Grove Chocolate Festival: The beloved Chocolate Festival will return to the historic streets and parkways of downtown Long Grove for the first time in three years, May 20-22. Chocolate lovers can experience so much—including ...


Gay News

Los Angeles LGBT Center mourns passing of legendary LGBT activist, leader Urvashi Vaid 2022-05-15
-- From a press release - LOS ANGELES, May 14, 2022—"The world has lost a giant in the movement for LGBTQ freedom, justice and equality. After a valiant battle with cancer, Urvashi Vaid died today," said Los Angeles LGBT Center CEO Lorri ...


Gay News

PASSAGES Urvashi Vaid dies, The National LGBTQ Task Force releases statement 2022-05-14
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON, DC……Legendary attorney, LGBTQ activist, and author Urvashi Vaid, known for her extensive career an advocate for LGBTQ rights, women's rights, anti-war efforts, immigration justice and many other social causes ...


Gay News

Griner's detention in Russia extended by a month 2022-05-13
- The lawyer for Brittney Griner said May 13 that the WNBA star's pretrial detention in Russia has been extended by one month, ESPN reported. Alexander Boykov told The Associated Press he believed the relatively short extension ...


Gay News

HRC calls for passage of the Women's Health Protection Act 2022-05-11
-- From a press release - WASHINGTON - Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization, joined a growing number of organizations calling for the ...


Gay News

All WNBA courts to honor Brittney Griner 2022-05-06
- The WNBA announced plans to acknowledge the importance of Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner to the league, according to a press release. During the 2022 season that tips off Friday, May 6, Griner's initials and jersey ...


Gay News

VIEWS Dignity/Chicago celebrates 50 years of ministry 2022-05-06
- It was 1972 and it was dangerous to be gay or lesbian. One could be arrested, publicly humiliated or fired from one's job. Even finding safety in the emerging bar scene was hazardous. Added to that ...


Gay News

LGBTQ+ woman appointed as White House press secretary; GLAAD comments 2022-05-05
- On May 5, President Biden announced Karine Jean-Pierre has been promoted to be assistant to the president and White House press secretary, according to a White House media release. Jean-Pierre will step into the press secretary ...


Gay News

Brittney Griner gets new designation; Black LGBTQ+ group responds 2022-05-03
- The United States is now saying lesbian WNBA player Brittney Griner is wrongfully detained in Russia, NPR reported. The shift in language indicates the United States will work more aggressively to secure her release. The State ...


Gay News

DeGeneres shares message after taping final talk-show episode 2022-04-30
- An era has ended as The Ellen Show has officially wrapped its last episode. According to Variety, Ellen DeGeneres announced on an April 29 Twitter thread that her daytime talk show concluded filming its final episode. ...


 



Copyright © 2022 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 
 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS







Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



Donate


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.