My Syllabus If I Became A Professor

This syllabus was created the spring of 2006 when I was a senior in undergrad and was contemplating going further and getting a PhD. Enjoy.

The African American Woman 350/450

Department of African-American Studies
T Th 12:00 – 1:30p.m.
Room 434 – Auditorium Building
Roosevelt University: Spring 2007
Instructor: Kathy M. Henry

Email: kathyhenry10@sbcglobal.net

Phone: 312 341-8260 Office Hours: Wednesday & Friday 12:00pm – 2:30

Course Description:
The African American Woman is an upper-division course for three credit hours in African American Studies. The purpose of the course is to offer an insight into the complexities of being a Black woman in a culture that has a deeply profound contempt for all women and has placed the Black woman at the bottom.   We will critically read several works of literature to explore how issues of race, gender, and class are at play in African American society and in exploring these issues, develop opportunities for resistance.

Texts (required, available at Roosevelt Bookstore):

Cole, Johnnetta Betsch & Guy-Sheftall, Beverly.  Gender Talk: The Struggle for Women’s Equality in African-American Communities.

Davis, Angela & Hinds, Lennox S. Assata : An Autobiography

Merriwether, Louise. Daddy Was a Number Runner

Souljah, Sister. No Disrespect

In Addition:
* Four Computer Disks- one to serve as a back-up for your work, the other to be submitted to me with your typed assignments.

Course Requirements and Grading Policy:
Final Course Grades will be determined on the basis of class participation (100), four 5 page reaction papers (50 points each) and an 10-15 page final research paper (200 points). All assignments are to be typed according to APA guidelines. The reaction papers will analyze the four readings in the syllabus and the final research paper will be a biography of an African American female figure of your choice. Also, all cell phones must be turned off prior to class.

Grading Scale:
500 – 450 (A)

450 – 400 (B)

400 – 350 (C)

350 – 300 (D)

299& below (F)

The Art of Aging in a Culture That Worships Youth

If the lord is willing and the creek don’t rise as the elders used to say, I will be 52 years old in November and what an amazing journey it has been. I have experienced so many trials and tribulations during my time on this planet. From childhood sexual abuse, domestic abuse, poverty, loss of family and friends, I have been through it all and not only managed to survive but thrive in a society that wasn’t created for women who look like me.

Ignore the chaos and books and look at this old broad

It has not been an easy ride at all but I am here and grateful because too many people I loved didn’t have the privilege of growing older. The two little girls I used to play with as child who died in a fire. My brother who died on his 34th birthday. My cousin who died at the age of 46. My aunts who died at 37 and 48. My three sister-friends who died at the ages of 45 and 48. So many others in the world that I never knew but who were also loved and missed dearly by those who loved them.

However, what is so weird to me is how people in this culture don’t respect the elders and look at them with disdain and contempt. Make fun of them because they are still alive. Laugh at their wrinkles and gray hairs. Their sagging skin. Signs of living that should be considered a badge of honor instead of a curse.

It’s like the very act of getting older is something to be ashamed of and people get a thrill out of shaming the elders. As if their asses aren’t going to get older one day if they are that lucky and blessed. I guess these types of people are taking a magical fairy dust that is going to keep them from turning 40. Hmm.

This culture makes it seems like getting older is a bad thing when all it means is that you survived and have a story to tell. But so often, the voices of the elders, particularly those of the crones are shouted down and silenced. Why? I think it is because knowledge is power and gaining knowledge is a part of the aging process although some older folks are still chasing their youth and their brains have stagnated unfortunately. But it’s a lot of elders who have valuable information and y’all better listen.

Like older women. We have a ton of experience when it comes to relationships and men but often when a crone attempts to give advice to a younger woman concerning a man, for the most part, she is ignored, screamed at, and told that she is just jealous because her ass is old. As if older women in this current culture have anything to be jealous of. I am in these social media streets and see clearly what is going on in the dating field. A bunch of entitled, whining ass men, both old and young and parched, silly ass women looking for male validation. I ain’t jealous of shit boos.

In May of this year, I became a grandmother again to an absolutely beautiful brown baby boy. My widdle widdle brown sugar booga man. I’m so grateful that I have lived long to see three generations descend from my lineage and I am proud as fuck. And I hope to live long enough to see more grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There is nothing wrong with getting older because as I stated earlier, that means you survived and have a story to tell. So stop being ashamed for getting older and start cussing folks out who say something slick about your age. Fuck them and keep living.

Music is the Answer

When Music Told a Story

I’ve always been of the belief that music is food for the soul. Music nurtures your spirit, soothes your mind when you are feeling low, makes your heart sing with joy, and shake your ass with glee. But just like processed foods are not good for your body, trash music is not good for your emotional energy.

The Black collective is a hot mess for a variety of reasons and although some will not agree with me, I believe that music is playing a huge part in its continued dysfunction. When a steady stream of garbage music is marketed to the masses, it’s eventually going to affect the psyches of people who aren’t able to fight off the madness and as a result, so many people are miserable as fuck.

It makes me sad that no love music is coming from the current Black collective of musicians. Just anger, pain, and more pain. I know that life isn’t a fairytale but damn. And let’s not talk about the lack of singers who sang from the bottom of their hearts and the pits of their souls. Voices that could bring you to tears and brought chills to your spine. Now it’s a bunch of whining voices belonging to singers who all look alike. No individuality at all.

No those days are gone and the Black collective is suffering because of it. Music historically has been a part of our history since we brought here as chattel. Music keep us sane while we were toiling in the cotton, sugar cane, tobacco plantations of the South.

We sang in the Black church which used to be the finishing school for Black musicians. Singers from Aretha Franklin to Whitney can all trace their careers to the Black church. Religion has major issues but no one can deny that the Black church throughout history has played a major role in the music industry and now since Black folks have turned away from the church, the industry is suffering.

So who is the blame for this lack when it comes to Black music? Us. We sold out our culture for trinkets and now we have a major dearth when it comes to music. So the madness will continue.

Grief is a Weird Thing

Behind the smile is a multitude of emotions

Two years has passed since my brother died, and I’ve experienced a multiple of emotions ranging from the deepest despair to raging anger and anxiety. But lately, I feel myself turning into someone who doesn’t give a fuck about too much of anything.

I mean I love my children, grandchild, and my future grandchild to be. My friends and other family members but I’m not getting any enjoyment from life and it scares me at times. Because you can’t walk around not giving a fuck about anything. Or can you?

Honestly it’s easy to not give a fuck about stuff because the vast majority of people in America are dumb as a box of hair. Consumed with celebrities and other superficial mess while their way of life is burning to the ground. I just be sitting back watching these ninnies fight and argue with strangers online about celebrities who wouldn’t piss on them if they were on fire.

But I’m not going to lie. It scares me to be so apathetic about life now because by nature, I’m a passionate woman filled with fire. And I want that fire back instead of being the ice queen I’ve become. I’m praying for that day when my sense of optimism and joy about living comes back. Pray for me too.

Grief

Next month will be the anniversaries of my brothers deaths. Both of my brothers died in the month of February three days apart, one on the 7th which is ironically his birthday and the other one on the 10th. How morbid is that? Quite actually so I’m not in a good space right now but somehow, someway I manage to persevere. Despite of the pain, the sorrow, the never ending grief.

Some days are better than most. When I FaceTime my grandson and see his happy, smiling face alight with the joy of seeing his granny.

When I’m curled up in the bed with my cat and I can feel him purring loudly in contentment on my lap while I read one of my many books.

When I’m on the phone cackling with my best friend and we reminisce of days past, when we were young and carefree running wild.

When I’m talking to my children and listening to their hopes, dreams, and aspirations for the future, feeling blessed that they feel comfortable enough to confine in me.

But even with being surrounded by so much love, I feel so lost. It’s not an easy burden being the last one alive from your original family. At times, it feels like a horrible dream that I’m eventually going to wake up from and then it hits me that this is my new reality. And I have to deal with it whether I like it or not. So I wake up every morning grateful to see another day and at the same time filled with sadness. As time goes on, I know that it’s going to get easier but right now, it’s rough.

Violence, Mayhem, and Chicago

My family migrated to Chicago during the 1940s and they told the most marvelous stories of living here during that era. From dranking at juke joints in Bronzeville to eating the good cooking at various Black owned restaurants scattered throughout the city. Then I have my own stories of growing up on the South East Side. Memories of hot summer days, running through open fire hydrants and buying icee cups. But I’m starting to hate the city of my birth because of the violence. It’s barely two weeks into the new year and it’s already bloody. Pregnant women getting shot down like dogs. What the fuck is going on!!!!

It’s something sinister in the streets of Chicago. Its become a place where life has no value and anyone can become a casualty of thugs. Believe or not, it was actually a time in Chicago when the elders, women, and children were considered off limits to gang bangers but something changed in the 90s. The thugs decided that anyone could get this heat and and since then, Chicago has become a cesspool of ignorance and violence. And Black folks in this city have no one to blame but themselves because they coddled this shit. Nurtured this shit in the name of racism instead of looking in the mirror. White folks aren’t coming into neighborhoods such as Englewood and South Shore where violence is a daily ritual. Nah this is strictly a Black thang. Black people are committing these crimes and Black people are protecting these criminals.

If it wasn’t for my grandson and future grandchild, I would move to Las Vegas and never look back but I have to be an integral part of my grandchildren’s lives. I have to live near them, see their faces up close on the regular. Touch them and sniff them like a mother cat does to her kittens. So for now, Chicago is where I’m at. I’m praying for the day when this madness will disappear.

Why I still live in Chicago

Reclaiming Joy in Your Life

The Sociological Imagination

I majored in sociology in college because it made sense after reading the first paragraph of the textbook I had been assigned. I had been a sociologist my entire life but didn’t know it.

When I was a little girl, I used to go to work with my mother during summer vacations and we would take public transportation. I always noticed that everyone would go through the same exact turnstile when we got to the train station, although it would be several that would be empty. That never made any sense to me because why stand in line when it was another turnstile available? Ugh humans but despite of their flaws, humanity is utterly fascinating to me.

Due to sociology, the social media, and aging, unfortunately I’m noticing that people are pathologically unhappy and it makes me sad. Because life is so short and it’s precious. Everyday you wake up is a blessing and a new opportunity to start over again. Who wants to wake up mad and miserable all the time? Not me.

Childhood memories

For this new year, I’m hoping that everyone claims their right to happiness and joy. I would have thought that living through a pandemic would have awakened some people but it hasn’t. Be happy and love the people in your life. Love them with all your heart and soul. Because at times, life can be rough as hell and you never know when the grim reaper will be knocking on your door. Reclaim your life from misery and have a grand old life.

Radical Crone Feminism

The Three Phases of Womanhood

As I get older, I’m finding that my personal brand of feminism is getting more radical. Now I’m not talking about kill all the men or any nonsense like that, but as I age, I just don’t give a fuck about the opinions of men anymore. Regardless of race, regardless of their socioeconomic status in life. Dirt poor or filthy rich, if you are a man, your opinions of womanhood don’t mean a heap of merde (French for shit) to me.

I can’t speak for all women collectively but for me, getting older has been a blessing because I did some foolish things as a younger woman and now my mind is clear as freshly cleaned glass. When I look back, I just shake my head and thank the ancestors that I’m still alive to tell my tale. The most foolish thing I did as a young woman was live with two men (not at the same time☠️) and it’s two of my biggest regrets as a woman. No woman should live with a man that she’s not married to because it’s not worth it. Why should a young woman waste her youth, energy and resources cleaning, cooking, and sexing a man who is not her husband? It doesn’t make any sense and I’m not even a big proponent of marriage these days but shacking is an exercise in futility. He’s getting the best without having to do anything. Marriage is a legally binding contact that brings certain privileges for both parties. Particularly for women when it comes to children.

But marriage is still very important for a large portion of women and that is why they be jumping through hoops of fire, trying to prove their worthiness to men who in some cases, aren’t worth two dead flies. Moving in with men that they barely know, auditioning to be wives. Just foolishness all the way around.

If I ran society, I would encourage women to concentrate on themselves and stop listening to the voices of men. Tap into their femininity and I’m not talking about this soft and meek shit thats being sold to the parched masses by shysters. I’m talking about that Kali femininity. Kali is an Indian goddess who’s a bad chick. She’s considered the goddess of death in some circles and others, the epitome of womanhood. She’s a wild woman and women of today need to aspire to that wildness. This is a patriarchal society that we live in and in order to survive as a woman, you have to be strong and cunning or you will become prey for these wolves. So stop serving yourselves up on a silver platter to men who look like roadkill y’all.

Kali the Goddess

Dirty Little Secrets & the Black Community

Femicide Definition

The most dirtiest secret in the Black community is the lack of concern and empathy for its women and children. When any crime is committed against either of these two groups, they are blamed and the crime is justified. And ignored. As a result of this sick mentality, 1484 Black women and girls were murdered in 2021 at the hands of Black men. It’s a nasty little tale of misogyny and pure ignorance.

In the Black community, women and children are looked as prey and commodities. Fodder for angry Black men and women to take their frustrations out on. Hard day at work? Go home and beat your woman’s ass. No job at all? Wait for her to get off work and beat her ass. Your baby daddy is treating you like shit but you won’t leave him and need someone to take your frustrations out on? Beat your child or children’s asses. Don’t like your girlfriend’s child or children? Beat their asses every day for existing.

This violence against women and children is quite common in the Black community, especially in the lower class urban areas of America. The sad part about this behavior is that it had been normalized. Normalized to the point that if you speak out against this sickness, you are looked at as a race traitor. A coon and all sorts of dumb ass names. Because to these people, protecting the image of the Black man as a perpetual victim is more important than protecting the victims of domestic violence, rape, and murder.

A Facebook friend of mine has been tracking the murders of Black women and girls for almost seven years and the statistics she has found are disgusting and mind boggling. According to her statistics and statistics from the FBI, four Black women and girls were killed per day in 2020. Four per day for a whole year and in 2021, it was worse. But according to the social media, if men were served the biggest piece of chicken at dinner and Black women stopped wearing weave and makeup, these murders would magically disappear. Hell a lot of these creatures believe that these statistics are lies and it’s just a plot by the Man to bring the Black man down. It’s hard to believe that people are really this fucking stupid but they are.

But honestly, the main reason why these murders are being ignored is because the image of the murderers have to be protected at all cost and the murderers are Black men. Only Black men can be victims in the Black community. Everyone else has to stand in line and wait for their turn. And as usual, some ninnies on the internet actually had the audacity to try to blame other races for these murders. Like other races are going to jeopardize their own lives by coming to the hood to kill somebody in 2022 or the years before this one. It’s not the 1950s anymore. I’m so sick of this shit.

Last year, my friend had a march in September in Atlanta to bring attention to the murders of Black women and girls and only 50 people showed up. This year, she’s having another one in September again that will be located in Washington D.C. and she’s hoping for a larger turnout due to the publicity she’s received last year. I’m going to be there to support her and I hope that anyone who reads this will too.

Diddy the Fat Black Kitty

My buddy

Almost 13 years ago, an eight week old black kitten came into my life. He didn’t have a name for several weeks and then my eldest daughter named him Diddy. Because he loves the spotlight and women.

Diddy is a naughty critter. Fuck it, he’s bad as hell and although he is considered a senior cat, he still be running around starting shit. Yowling like a damn fool, doing the crab walk although he’s 17 pounds, and taking off running like the hounds of hell are chasing his bad ass. But I wouldn’t have him any other way.

During the almost 13 years he’s been a part of my life, we have had many adventures. When I moved to Minneapolis eight years ago, he rode in a carrier on my lap. We have lived like Gypsies over the years and not one time have I thought about leaving him behind. Well except one. I was going to be living with my sister friend Trena when I moved to Minneapolis and I didn’t know if she was going to welcome Diddy so I started looking for a no kill shelter but when I talked to her, she told me that he was welcomed too. My boo is an ancestor now and I wish she was here so I could tell her how wonderful she was for allowing me to bring my critter with me.

I got Diddy from my girl Angela. Her cat Silver had a set of kittens who were born May 17, 2009 and when they got old enough, they would be given to loving homes. And I put my bid in because at the time, I was living in an apartment complex with a mice problem. Those mice were some bold fuckers too. Straight squeaking and partying when the lights were turned off at night.

He became a part of my family officially on August 1, 2009. I went to her home to pick him up and he was laying in a box with his sisters. His mama was laying on Angie’s bed looking at me anxiously because she knew I was coming for one of her babies. I rubbed and comforted her, telling her that he would be loved and would always have a home. For almost 13 years, I’ve kept my promise to Silver because as long as I have a home, Diddy will always be there.

We have gotten old together, Diddy and I. I’m 51 and he’s 64 in human years and sometimes, we be fussing and fighting with each other. And then we be chilling out on the bed. He’s my booga cat, my fleabag. I know that cats don’t live as long as humans but the little girl that is in me wants him to be the world’s oldest living cat because I’m not ready to let him go. But as long as he’s here, he’s going to be loved and cherished.

Me and my fleabag