Femme Friday – Yours In Struggle

Back in 1984, three lesbians came together to write a book about anti-Semitism and racism: an Ashkenazi Jew, a white Southerner, and an African American. Yours In Struggle: Three Feminist Perspectives on Anti-Semitism and Racism by Elly Bulkin, Minnie Bruce Pratt, and Barbara Smith continues to be relevant, thought-provoking, and timely.

Deep gratitude to Elly, Minnie Bruce, and Barbara for their willingness to be vulnerable and truthful in the name of fighting injustice and building community.

Minnie Bruce Pratt: When “I get afraid; when I feel my racing heart, breath, the tightening of my skin around me, literally defenses to protect my narrow circle, I try to say to myself: Yes, that fear is there, but I will try to be at the edge between my fear and outside, on the edge at my skin, listening, asking what new things I will hear, will I see, will I let myself feel, beyond the fear. I try to say to myself: To acknowledge the complexity of another’s existence is not to deny my own.”

Barbara Smith: If somebody asked me to describe how Black and Jewish feminists, or Blacks and Jews in general, deal with each other, I would say what we have going is a love-hate relationship. The dynamic between us is often characterized by contradictory and ambivalent feelings, both negative and positive, distrust simultaneously mixed with a desire for acceptance; and deep resentment and heavy expectations about the other group’s behavior.

Elly Bulkin: I find it easier to enumerate instances of anti-Semitism, current and historical, than to distinguish among them or to distinguish how racism and Jewish oppression operate at different times and places. I am well aware of how the difficulty in making distinctions is compounded by so much effort having to go into simply trying to get other women to acknowledge anti-Semitism as more than historical aberration, something past and done.

Every Friday, I showcase a queer femme goddess. I want to feature you! Write to me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com and let me shine a spotlight on your beautiful, unique, femme story! If you’ve written a femme story or poem or song, oh, please let me post it! Sometimes I talk about books, too…

 New Femme Friday feature starting spring 2020: Queer Femmes Respond. Are you reading more poetry? Are you navigating various technologies in order to see your folx and not be so isolated? Are you still going out to work? Are you able to get out for walks? Who’s home with you? We queer femmes are meeting these unsettling times with queer femme panache, and I want to hear about it! Along the lines of the Corona Letters over at the Sewanee Review, please send in what you’re doing, how you’re staying centered and sane! Write me at thetotalfemme@gmail.com with questions or ideas or a full-on post (with bio, if possible)!

 At the Total Femme, my intention is to post three times a week: Meditations for Queer Femmes on Monday, Pingy-Dingy Wednesday on Wednesday and Femme Friday on Friday. Rather than play catch-up in a stressful fashion on those weeks when life prevents posting, I have decided to just move gaily forward: if I miss a Monday, the next post will be on Wednesday, and so on. Thank you, little bottle of antibiotics for inspiring me in this! (“…if it’s almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Don’t take a double dose to make up for a missed one.”) As I recover from treatment for breast cancer, however, I’m just going to post whenever I can manage.


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