Treemonisha is a opera written by a the famous ragtime performer Scott Joplin. This opera focus around the main character of the same name, who is kidnaped and trying to make her way home. The opera is considered one of the first all-black operas to gain so much popularity. This was very important to Scott Joplin not only cause it was his work that he put a lot of effort, but also since he is was strong believer in the Racial uplift movement. This Movement was based on the idea of making ways for Black artist, whether in music or in education, to improve Black racial stereotypes. Joplin, like many more Black men during this era, were actively working towards this goal, but during this point not many women were recognized for help to the movement. I believe that overlook of women’s role during the era of the Racial Uplift Movement is actively representing what struggles today’s women have in movements of the same manner.
Black women have had make a place for themselves in countless of spaces, whether in art or in science. During the Racial Uplift Movement era in particular, there are many women who took their own skills and used to better the perception of black people. Some examples are: scholars like Hazel Carby and Paula Giddings, activists like Ida B. Wells, and writers like Mary Church Terrel. All these women have actively tried to help improve the ideas about the Black race, while also facing discrimination within the movement’s community. I think the main problem was that the Black men during this movement do not understand intersectionality as much as they think they do. Intersectionality plays a huge role in Black women’s lives, because not only do we receive discrimination for being Black, we also experiencing from our own race due to us being women. The man of this time seemed to be so focused on the idea of letting themselves not be seen as the Black stereotypes that they didn’t realize they were missing a huge part of the black community to uplift, which can also see in today’s movements for Black uplift.
In Today's Context
As the rise social movements for all different types of groups, one that has taken quite a forefront is the Black Lives Matter movement. Within this movement, there are active members working day in and day out to help reform the American police department. Whether through marching or petitions, we can see how this movement has actively been trying to make a change for the Black community, but even in this movement do we see the same problem as during the Racial Uplift Movement. Many Black men have took the forefront of the movement, while the women have been placed in the background. This is also very interesting due to the fact this movement was started by three Black women as well, Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors. Now this not just a way to say that only women need to be the forefront of these type of movements, especially since this effects the entirety of the Black community, but it is worth noting that as men, they are more considered to be leaders of the Black community before the women. This is big issue, because within this mindset it will be harder for women to actually get any type of recognition or support in their own activism.
As a final observation on the placement of women in specifically movements surrounding the Black community is that in order for Black women to fully get the credit they deserve, men need to understand the multiple fights that we, as Black women, have to face. The only way to truly bring the community together is by having all members of the community being heard by others about their own struggles. As we continue to move forward in the idea of racial uplift, we must also include the topic of intersectionality into it as well.
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