Today’s Lesson: Intersectionality

We’re covering this in GEST 100 tomorrow, and I think it’s always the kind of piece that’s worth re-reading:

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman?
Delivered 1851, Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio

Well, children, where there is so much racket there must be something out of kilter. I think that ‘twixt the negroes of the South and the women at the North, all talking about rights, the white men will be in a fix pretty soon. But what’s all this here talking about?

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman? I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me! And ain’t I a woman?

Then they talk about this thing in the head; what’s this they call it? [member of audience whispers, “intellect”] That’s it, honey. What’s that got to do with women’s rights or negroes’ rights? If my cup won’t hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn’t you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?

Then that little man in black there, he says women can’t have as much rights as men, ’cause Christ wasn’t a woman! Where did your Christ come from? Where did your Christ come from? From God and a woman! Man had nothing to do with Him.

If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back , and get it right side up again! And now they is asking to do it, the men better let them.

Obliged to you for hearing me, and now old Sojourner ain’t got nothing more to say.

(We’re reading it with some Angela Davis.)

7 Replies to “Today’s Lesson: Intersectionality”

  1. Just wanted to say I’ve been reading about your teaching adventures with great interest! I just started teaching a law and sexuality class, and it’s fun!

  2. That speech was something I had posted on my office wall for many years, I misplaced it in a move somehow. I need to print it out and hang it up again.

  3. what’s interesting – and what Davis points out – is that the anti-suffrage folks were specifically arguing that women couldn’t vote BECAUSE they couldn’t even get into a carriage or over a ditch without a man’s help.

    so her argument was exactly logical & a perfect rebuttal to that charge.

  4. I’ve always found Sojourner Truth to be one of the most inspiring people to have ever walked the earth. I must have read this a hundred times already in my life. Thanks for sharing it again.

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