Women's Herstory Month: Do You Know Any Border-Crossing Black Women?


On the last Friday of Women’s Her-story Month, I want to honor black women who are what I call “border-crossers.” Border crossing is centered in the margins and “what moves people” . . . the fluid transmissions and the mergers. It comes out of womanism and black feminism. It comes out the frustration with borders and boundaries. It comes out of the need to build sustained and people-centered movements.

Why My Black Girlfriends and I love Shirley Sherrod: “She Wears Big Girl Drawls”

“I was working my butt off . . . I did not get to be 62  without being able to move beyond things . . . I was worried that my grandchildren would read in the history books years from now that their grandmother the First Black Rural Director for Georgia was fired by the first Black President.” [A paraphrasing of Shirley Sherrod from her CNN interview on Wednesday]

I want to join the internet chorus of bloggers praising Shirley Sherrod for her ability to wear what my godmother calls, “big girl drawls.” You see, over the last couple of days much has been written praising her commitment to Civil Rights and to helping all farmers irrespective of race.

But, what I briefly want to talk about is her ability to wear “big girl drawls” in the midst of public scrutiny from the NAACP and the Tea Party and against factions of dissent in the Obama Administration. Early this year, I wrote a post about Michelle Rhee who is the current chancellor of the District of Columbia Public Schools in Washington, D.C. where I talked about her being:

“A woman who knows how to dig her heels into the ground and say, “These are my boundaries that you will not cross and if you do I will not cower away and lick my wounds. I will fight you. Do you hear me. I will fight you.” It is her spirit of fight (i.e. big girl drawls) that I marvel at because we as a society do not intentionally cultivate girls’ fighting spirits. We do not teach them how to maintain their position in a street corner brawl where their reputation, occupation, family life, self-esteem, and most importantly their inner voice are on the line. We do not teach them how to stay in a battle . . . how to endure when people “scandalize your good name” because they do not like you . . . how to deal with not having a cadre of friends because you tell it like it is and you don’t hide behind passive aggressive actions and behaviors . . . how to negotiate leading people when they utterly refuse downright protest being lead.”

And, I must render the same words for Shirley Sherrod who refused to sit quietly by and allow people like Roland Martin and USDA Secretary Vilsack to scandalize her good name.