“… let me remind you: bigotry against minority groups based on sexual orientation or gender identity, such as the trans community, is a way fascism takes root.” ~ by Robert Reich,The Guardian 4/30/23
Hirschfeld would have been delighted by the progress
As a pioneer in Weimar Berlin, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld explored the limits of what he then referred to as transsexuality. His work documented substantial progress in the identification of diversity of behaviors among Trans people. His efforts to enhance Trans’ social acceptability were commendable and well-accepted. His Institut fuer Sexual Wissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Research) succeeded in initiating viable sex-change strategies and offered a range of comprehensive educational and therapeutic services to their patients. This enlightened approach to a taboo topic made historic progress in 1920s Berlin. Nazi exclusionary edicts abruptly terminated it, with tragic conclusion.
I’m no artist.Never have been.I’ve always enjoyed viewing art, but I can’t draw or paint a lick.I even finished at the bottom of last December’s family cookie decorating contest.
Thankfully, the Riverside (California) Art Museum didn’t know about my failings when it asked me to become the consulting humanist for its new venture, the Cheech Marin Center for Chicano Art & Culture, better known as The Cheech. I stepped into a brand new world. Here’s what happened.
My three granddaughters are, respectively, age 12, 5 and 3. They are also Black and beautiful. I start with that as a link that to what I’m about to write about; something personal, very personal.
You see, I’m ticked off to report that we have still another addition to the umpteenth volume of our “You can’t make this stuff up folks” collection, our chronicles of the asinine. Our latest entry comes from Caldwell, New Jersey courtesy of some “racially nearsighted” dude by the name of Gordon Lawshe.
In 1926, Dr. Carter Godwin Woodson, an African-American historian, writer, and educator, created Negro History Week to honor the contributions of people of African descent in the U.S. He founded the Association for the Study of Negro (now African-American) Life and History in 1915 and the Journal of Negro History in 1916. Born in 1875 to former enslaved people in New Canton, Virginia, the Harvard-educated Woodson chose February for Negro History Week because the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and President Abraham Lincoln fall then. He wrote, “What we need is not a history of selected races or nations, but the history of the world void of national bias, race, hate, and religious prejudice.” Dr. Woodson contributed to our understanding that a better knowledge of history is critical for people in the African diaspora to achieve greater pride, self-determination and collective progress.Negro History Week itself changed. About fifty years later, near the close of the Black Power period (early 1970s), the celebration was renamed Black History Week and later expanded to Black History Month in 1976.
You always made two cups of steaming tea, one for him
and one for you. Your tea was calming; you did not say
what his was intended to do. Even so, your muzzle
would sometimes wrinkle and twitch, your eyes glow
red. He could not tell when you were looking at him.
When he began discreetly pouring out his smoky tea into
the houseplants, they flourished as if you had spoken
to them every day for a year, given them pet names.
Hey readers, with African American history top of mind, does the name “Barbara Johns” ring a familiar bell with you? If not don’t feel bad, you’re not alone. You see, when African American history comes up there are two realities; first, it gets compressed into February (or recently Juneteenth) and, second, it typically cites the well-deserved names as its founder Carter G. Woodson, Dr. Charles Drew, Rosa Parks, George Washington Carver, W. E. B. DuBois Dr. King and others. So, I figured that perhaps the Barbara Johns’ story of profound unprecedented courage, the focus of this narrative, may pique your interest.
But first for context, consider the following imaginary scenario.