I recently attended an event called “Ain’t I a Woman” at NEIU and realized how women are not recognized for their contributions to society. At the event I watched one woman acting out the lives of four African American women who worked very hard to be successful and create social change. However, I don’t remember ever learning about Sojourner Truth, Zora Neale Hurston, Fannie Lou Hamer, and Clementine Hunter in school. This is because African American women are not recognized for their work, compared to men.
When we learn about African American history month we mostly learn in class and in our textbook about Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Booker T. Washington. Textbooks only include a very small portion on Rosa Parks and Harriet Tubman but nothing else on other women who have contributed to American History. I know that Rosa Parks was not the only one. The problem is that we are not taught about these women. Of course, this has to do with the fact that our society is so male dominated and it is only them who are highly recognized for their work.
The fact that these incredible African American women are not as recognized for their work as African American men is not just a gender issue but a a racial issue as well. In this society, just by being a woman you are seen as less than a man. So now, in this society a woman of color is seen as less than a white woman. In school, I remember learning about women who fought in other movements such as Jane Addams, Alice Paul, and Susan B. Anthony and these are all white women.
During the event that I attended I was confused because I had never heard the names of any of the women who she was acting out which made me feel like maybe I had not paid enough attention in my classes. But it is not my fault, it is the institution of education that does not provide a diverse amount of information. It is shameful that our own educational system contributes to this sexist society. School is where children are socialized and where they spend most of their time learning. If schools continue to follow the norm, it will be much more difficult for children to learn about a diverse group of people who contribute to our society.
Since it is African American history month, I encourage everyone to do some research on African American women and learn about their contirbutions to the movements and our society. Women were also a big part of this too and it is our duty to learn on our own and share our knowledge with others so that they can also learn about the great things African American women have done. Also, on your free time you should all go out and attend events that celebrate the lives of African American women activists. To learn more about women who have and continue to contribute to American History click here.