Taking tomorrow off from work and heading over to Medgar Evers College for the National Black Writers’ Conference. This will only be the second time I’ve been able to attend, and I’m really looking forward to it, really glad I was able to take the day.
The one I went to years ago was an interesting experience. I was more than a little horrified to start the day with a speaker who basically used his time on stage to blame educated black women for all the problems faced by black people in American society. Yes, really. We are to blame because we’ve cloistered ourselves away in our ivory towers and we don’t give anything back to our communities. We are to blame because we are too busy fighting for feminist causes than black causes. And, most importantly I’m sure, we are to blame because we have forgotten or choose not to accept that our real role is to be the supporting player to a man. There were a few speakers that picked up and ran with this theme … and none of the other speakers challenged them. Several women staged a walk-out of one discussion, and the speaker used that as an opportunity to mock us and encourage the audience to do the same.
I was so angry by day’s end that I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. And then the clouds broke and two women writers that I have always loved made me love them even more by standing up and saying all the things that someone needed to be saying to that misogynist crowd. They didn’t speak from anger. They weren’t weepy or hysterical. They didn’t plead for acceptance by those ignorant, offensive men. They used their humor and intelligence. They spoke with calm ferocity. They stood up and took those men down, peg by peg.
I’m sure tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday will be nothing like that long past experience … not because men like those don’t still exist, but because there’s no full moon, and I just don’t think all of that ugly could come together again in the right configuration to make such a thing possible (and, too, I looked at the schedule, and none of the offenders are on it). There are some wonderful things on tap, and I’m so excited to have all three days to revel in it, to soak it in!
Check out the rest of the slices of life over at Stacey and Ruth’s.