Racialized Blame: What Virginia Thomas and Anita Hill Have to Do With It

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Writing in the November 15, 2010 edition of The Nation, Professor Melissa Harris-Perry (Princeton) reacts to the news that Virginia Thomas, wife of United States Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, called Professor Anita Hill and asked Professor Hill to apologize:

Ginni Thomas’s insistence that Hill apologize is an apt metaphor for the long history of blaming black women for social ills. After the Civil War black women were considered a potential public menace. Social reformers claimed that black women’s sexual immorality was the cause of urban disruptions during the 1920s Great Migration. In the 1960s liberal policy-makers worried that black women were matriarchs who undermined family stability. And in the 1980s Ronald Reagan painted black women as welfare queens robbing the public coffers. In our current economic downturn, the explicit and implicit public denigration of African-American women is in vogue across the political spectrum and is supported from within black communities as much as it is imposed from the outside. Once again, black women find themselves blamed as one of the central causes of, rather than one of the primary victims of, American social and economic decline, and many are calling on black women to apologize for their own suffering.

Read Professor Harris-Perry’s full post here.

-Bridget Crawford

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