Anita Hill, 20 years later

The Nation has an excellent special issue devoted to the woman whose bravery put sexual harassment on the American national agenda. Patricia Williams writes:

Sad fact: there are few women of my generation who don’t have what is known as our “Anita story.” Mine occurred in 1980. I was five years out of law school and had decided to shift my career from practice to teaching. I was walking down a long hallway at the Association of American Law Schools meat market for new hires. There were two men behind me who were joking about the excellent shape of my legs and the unusually well-defined musculature of my lower quadrants. (Did I mention that it was a very, very long hallway?) At the end of that eternal passage was my appointed interview room. I escaped into it, only to be followed by the two. They, as it turned out, were doing the hiring.

Life was like that sometimes, I thought. And so I went through all the proper motions of expressing how much my fine ideas could contribute to their faculty, pretending that nothing had happened.

I didn’t stop pretending nothing had happened until 1991, when Anita Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the unwanted office approaches of her boss, then-chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Clarence Thomas.

Anita Hill on Reimagining Equality

Reimagining Equality:  Stories of Race, Gender and Home,  is the title of Anita Hill’s new book.  She was recently interviewed on NPR and commented on one of the obstacles preventing equality of opportunity in the US.  This seems timely as the hiring season is upon us:

“I do think that just in general, people are comfortable with people who look like them or they believe think like them. And I think we have a lot to do in terms of really giving people full opportunity in employment, whether … you think of them as safe or not. I think full opportunity in employment just does not exist today in the way that maybe I thought it would have when I was growing up in the 1960s and ’70s. I really thought some of these battles and some of these issues would have been resolved by now.

“And I really aggressively titled my book Reimagining Equality because that’s a process that I’m having to go through, like: What is equality like today? How can we envision it in terms of the way people live every day as opposed to the abstract rights that we say that everybody has and that, you know, we can go to court to enforce?”

I haven’t read the book, but it seems an interesting project to try to conceptualize what we do have in the way of equality, and what we do not, which may be what she is doing.

Two interesting comments on Amazon’s website; I take it these were blurbs for the book:

“In a book that is rigorous and heartfelt, sharply analytical and deeply moving, Anita Hill examines the idea of what ‘home’ means to Americans. Bringing to bear her formidable skills as a scholar of American law, history, and culture, Hill has produced a personal narrative that reaches across color and class to explore how our family homes and our national home are inextricably linked to how we understand achievement, opportunity, and equality.”—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University 

“In her new book, Reimagining Equality: Stories of Race, Gender, and Finding Home, Professor Anita Hill has written a sobering and compelling book about the plight of woman historically and now. This book is a must read for anyone who is committed to gender equality, and will be invaluable to those who are trying to understand many of the burdens that women, black and white face, in their everyday lives. An easy read, this book has both tragic and triumphant stories and covers the life of women through slavery, and those who now live in the Obama era. They remind us that we still have to come to grips with issues of race and gender, and that we need to re-imagine the question of equality for all. I recommend it with great enthusiasm and excitement about its value to a large audience of readers.”—Professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr., author of The Presumption of Guilt: The Arrest of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Race, Class, and Crime in America

Juanita Goggins

Very sad.

When Juanita Goggins became the first black woman elected to the South Carolina Legislature in 1974, she was hailed as a trailblazer and twice visited the president at the White House.

Three decades later, she froze to death at age 75, a solitary figure living in a rented house four miles from the gleaming Statehouse dome.

Goggins, whose achievements included key legislation on school funding, kindergarten and class size, had become increasingly reclusive. She spent her final years turning down help from neighbors who knew little of her history-making past. Her body was not discovered for more than a week.

(Thanks, Jender-Parents.)

Anita Allen on Philosophy

crmallen1.jpg The Philadelphia Inquirer has an interesting interview with Anita Allen, philosopher and law professor, about her view of philosophy and her experiences as both philosopher and law professor. It makes for depressing reading. At the time of the interview, Allen was about to give the keynote address to the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers.

“I have not been able to encourage other people like me to go into philosophy because I don’t think it has enough to offer them. The salaries aren’t that great, the prestige isn’t that great, the ability to interact with the world isn’t that great, the career options aren’t that great, the methodologies are narrow. Why would you do that,” she asks, “when you could be in an African American studies department, a law school, a history department, and have so many more people to interact with who are more like you, a place where so many more methods are acceptable, so many more topics are going to be written about? Why would you close yourself off in philosophy?”I feel that philosophy is hoisting itself by its own petard. Its unwillingness to be more inclusive in terms of issues, methods, demographics, means that it’s losing out on a lot of vibrancy, a lot of intellectual power.”Despite delight at the birth of the collegium, the existence finally of a “critical mass” of black female philosophers, she admits “philosophy still feels to me like an isolated profession. I don’t think I would encourage a black woman who has big ideas necessarily to go into philosophy,” Allen says. “Why? What’s the point? Go out and win the Pulitzer Prize! Don’t worry about academic philosophy. On the other hand, I would like to see that world open up to more women and women of color.”  

And to some extent Allen seems hopeful:

“My hope,” Allen says of the Nashville gathering, “is that this meeting will be for black women philosophers what the first meeting of black women lawyers was for us in the early ’90s. . . . We have now arrived. And I think women in philosophy can also arrive.”  

See below for more on the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers. Thanks, Sally, for the article!

SAF seeking nominees to Exec

The Society for Analytical Feminism is an APA-affiliated group that organizes two sessions at every division-meeting of the APA. We encourage feminist philosophers to consider nominations (self- or other) to the two vacant positions on the Executive Committee and be part of shaping APA programs. (Please submit nominations by email to safnomination at gmail dot com.)

For current members of the Society for Analytical Feminism, it is time to consider nominating oneself or others for elections, and also a good time to renew annual membership dues. (Dues may be paid on our website; see the membership page for details.)

The SAF nominations committee hereby issues this call for nominations for two vacant positions on the Executive Committee. The two positions open are President and Executive Committee member. Thanks to the officers vacating these positions for their years of service and their dedication.

Nominations, including self-nominations, may be made by any current member of the SAF.  For the purposes of this election, “current member” means “dues paid at least through the 2018-19 academic year.” If your membership dues are not up to date but you wish to participate in this election, you are welcome to do so provided your dues are paid by July 31, 2018.

If you are nominating someone other than yourself, the nominee should be consulted and agree to be nominated and must also be/become a current member of the SAF.  The nominations committee will confirm that all nominees are willing to serve.  Candidates will be asked to submit statements about themselves and their reasons for running to aid voters in their decision-making.

The Executive Committee consists of 4 members in total, including the President and Secretary/Treasurer, each of whom serves 3-year terms. For more details, please see the SAF constitution and by-laws on our website.

Nominations for this election will close on Friday, July 13 at 11:59 pm PST.  Voting will take place electronically from Monday, July 16 through July 31.

Please submit nominations by email to safnomination at gmail dot com.

Nominating Committee: Myisha Cherry (ex officio), Anita Superson, Susanne Sreedhar


Chapel Hill Public Philosophy Workshop

From Caleb Harrison:

I am co-organizing a Public Philosophy Writing Workshop at UNC in May (along with Macy Salzberger and Barry Maguire). The workshop will include talks by folks who have experienced success in writing and publishing public philosophy (Myisha Cherry, Anita Allen, David V Johnson, Walter Sinnott-Armstrong), along with workshop sessions for attendees and presenters to work through ideas they have for written public philosophy. We have some funds set aside to help offset travel costs for early-career and non-tenured folks, and are looking for more submissions.

The workshop information can be found here:

The new deadline for submission is March 20.

CFA: 11th Annual M.A.P Graduate Student Philosophy Conference – Florida State University

The Minorities and Philosophy chapter at Florida State University, is pleased to announce the 11th Annual M.A.P Graduate Student Philosophy Conference to be held on Friday, March 31st, 2017. This year we are greatly pleased to have Anita Superson (University of Kentucky) as our keynote speaker.

We welcome papers in all areas of philosophy that explore intersectionality of race, gender, class, sexuality, disability, culture, and native language. Papers should be suitable for a 20-25 minute presentation.

Abstracts with a length of no more than 500 words can be submitted to fsumapconference [at] gmail [dot] com. The abstract should be prepared for anonymous review. Please indicate your contact information and institutional affiliation in the body of your email submission. We will be updating our website with accessibility guidelines for accepted presenters shortly.

Submission deadline is Monday, February 20th. Accepted speakers will be notified on Friday, February 24th. If you have any further questions please contact Rachel Amoroso at ra15k [at] my.fsu [dot] edu.

A Big Cheer for Damien Careme!

Damien Careme is the Mayor of Grand-Synthe, an area of France which is home to the unofficial Dunkirk refugee camp – one of the worst of the informal settlements that have built up along the English-French border. Its residents were living in horrific conditions. Thick, thick mud, no proper sanitation, and in leaking tents. Police regularly refused to allow volunteers onto site with pallets and blankets. The circumstances were utterly desperate. Distressed at the conditions in which people – including little children and babies – were living, the Mayor asked the French authorities for help to build a better camp. They refused. He went ahead anyway, with the help of MSF. And so now, the refugees are slowly moving into wooden huts, on dry land, with proper blocks of toilets and showers. Already, the French authorities are pressuring Careme to shut the camp, worried that it will become a more permanent settlement, and encourage migrants to live there. So far he is undeterred. Whilst building wooden huts on waste ground is far from a proper solution to the migrant crisis, the Mayor of Grand-Synthe deserves a big round of applause for what he has done to try and make the lives of the Dunkirk refugees a bit more comfortable.

You can read more from Al Jazeera here.

(And yes, I use ‘migrant’ where others argue we should always and only use ‘refugee’. I understand their reasons, but many of those involved in migrant support on the ground suggest that this reasoning sets up and reinforces the idea of ‘good’ refugees and ‘bad’ migrants, when in reality, those classed as, say, ‘economic migrants’ are just trying to make a better life for themselves and their families in conditions of extreme global inequality.)

Abuse in Calais

Those with even half an eye on the news can’t have failed to notice the disastrous humanitarian situation on the UK border that is the build up of refugees in Calais, and other places along the French coast, notably Dunkirk. Amongst the many, many horrific things going on there (lack of basic necessities, such as food, shelter, water, sanitation; lack of healthcare; police violence; violence from far right groups), there have been various disturbing reports of sexual violence. People in desperate conditions do desperate things. (Sometimes, people are just generally horrible.) People – including children in the main camp – are being raped, and coerced into prostitution (i.e., raped for money). Moreover, the French authorities brutal and inhumane method of dismantling the camp, with no proper plan for where its residents will go and how they will be supported, just adds to the problem. They have built an official camp for the ‘Jungle’ residents, but it seems the provision is insufficient for the number of people actually living in the Calais Jungle, and many refugees are nervous about moving there, as they worry they will effectively be imprisoned. Unaccompanied minors are at high risk of exploitation. Children living on the streets without even the scant protection afforded by being with a larger community are at even greater risk. Quite what ordinary citizens do about this is unclear. Writing to our official representatives seems like a good start, although it’s easy to become despondent about how much effect that has.

You can read more from the Independent.

There is a petition you can sign here.