Uncovering History: Was Susan B. Anthony Racist Or Frederick Douglass Sexist?

Uncovering History: Was Susan B. Anthony Racist Or Frederick Douglass Sexist?

Not quite — but this 19th century debate is still relevant today.
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Everyone knows about Susan B. Anthony’s lifelong work as a suffragist of the women’s rights movement and Frederick Douglass’ escape from slavery before becoming a leading abolitionist. But have you heard their lesser-known story of friendship, betrayal, and reconciliation? Trust me, this is not a soap opera, but some really great history that is still relevant today.

Susan B. Anthony and Frederick Douglass met in Rochester through the abolitionist community. Pioneers of equal rights, they quickly became friends, united in the anti-slavery and pro-suffrage movements. Many of Anthony’s early speeches condemned slavery and any sort of racial prejudice; she even postponed her suffrage work mid-Civil War to focus on abolition, which was a more pressing issue. Douglass was an outspoken advocate of women’s rights, once remarking that “there was no foundation in reason or justice for woman’s exclusion.” He was also the only African American at the Seneca Falls Convention, the first woman's rights convention at the beginning of the suffrage movement — a convention which, ironically, Anthony did not attend.

So how did such a strong friendship revert to disagreements and accusations of racism or sexism? One major cause was to blame: the Fifteenth Amendment. When slavery was abolished in 1865, former slaves became another group of disenfranchised people who also did not have the vote. Thus the Fifteenth Amendment gave African Americans the right to vote--but only African American men. Douglass and other abolitionists dubbed this time period the “Negro’s hour,” claiming that any suffrage progress was better than none at all, and if black men got the vote first, so be it. Anthony was furious. She wanted universal suffrage for everyone, regardless of race or sex. If women, both black and white, were excluded, she did not want the amendment passed.

Their disagreements came to a head at an 1869 meeting of the American Equal Rights Association, where Anthony and Douglass got into a heated debate about the Fifteenth Amendment. They each argued how the lack of suffrage placed them in danger in different ways--African Americans because they were persecuted for their race and women because they were male property, and were controlled financially and politically. After the argument, still conflicted over the amendment yet determined to achieve women’s suffrage, Anthony and her supporters walked out of the meeting and formed a new organization called the National Woman Suffrage Association.

So Susan was racist for not wanting black men to get the right to vote, and Frederick was sexist for wanting women to sit back and wait their turn for suffrage? Well, not quite. There are two problems with this assumption. First, Anthony never stopped advocating for racial justice. Even after the 15th Amendment passed and only black men were given the right to vote, she delivered countless speeches about eradicating racist prejudices throughout the country (which of course did not disappear with the granting of suffrage). She condemned everything from lynchings in the South, to Northern women who claimed they were not prejudiced but really had racist viewpoints or savior complexes in daily life, to the plight of black women who faced the double-edged sword of race and sex. And Douglass did not stop advocating for women’s rights; he supported women’s suffrage until his death. Anthony and Douglass remained friends for years to come, and she even delivered the eulogy at his funeral.

At the crux of the matter, they both had the same principles and goals regarding equal rights. They cannot be faulted when the system was against them and government and society did not recognize either group as complete citizens. They were debating a question with no right answer — whose humanity should be recognized first?

The second problem with these accusations is that it is dangerous to impose a modern lens on history. We cannot use our current knowledge and foresight to impose labels or project agendas on historical figures. This kind of hindsight bias ignores the state of the nation when Anthony and Douglass were debating the Fifteenth Amendment, a time during which neither had equal rights and the words “racist” and “sexist” were not even used. The nineteenth century also lacked an understanding of intersectionality, the idea that oppressions intersect in different ways depending on race, gender, and class. Of course, just because the terminology did not exist does not make it right, but we cannot impose all of our hindsight bias on them.

Looking at the present day, there is no way around it — Anthony and Douglass’ debate is still relevant now. Instead of looking back, we should look forward and consider how their work still resonates today. While all citizens may have suffrage, that does not mean everyone is treated equally or that racial prejudice has been eradicated. Nothing could be farther from the truth. However, we now have tools at our disposal--an understanding of intersectionality, a wealth of sources and perspectives accessible online, and the ability to connect with others worldwide. Anthony and Douglass had an excuse. What is ours?

Cover Image Credit: Live Action Blog

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Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip

No haters are going to bring me down.
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This piece is intended to be a satire of an experience at Coachella.

With Coachella officially over, lives can go back to normal and we can all relive Beyonce’s performance online for years to come. Or, if you were like me and actually there, you can replay the experience in your mind for the rest of your life, holding dear to the memories of an epic weekend and a cultural experience like no other on the planet.

And I want to be clear about the Beyonce show: it really was that good.

But with any big event beloved by many, there will always be the haters on the other side. The #nochella’s, the haters of all things ‘Chella fashion. And let me just say this, the flower headbands aren’t cultural appropriation, they’re simply items of clothing used to express the stylistic tendency of a fashion-forward event.

Because yes, the music, and sure, the art, but so much of what Coachella is, really, is about the fashion and what you and your friends are wearing. It's supposed to be fun, not political! Anyway, back to the main point of this.

One of the biggest things people love to hate on about Coachella is the fact that many of the attendees have their tickets bought for them by their parents.

Sorry? It’s not my fault that my parents have enough money to buy their daughter and her friends the gift of going to one of the most amazing melting pots of all things weird and beautiful. It’s not my fault about your life, and it’s none of your business about mine.

All my life, I’ve dealt with people commenting on me, mostly liking, but there are always a few that seem upset about the way I live my life.

One time, I was riding my dolphin out in Turks and Cacaos, (“riding” is the act of holding onto their fin as they swim and you sort of glide next to them. It’s a beautiful, transformative experience between human and animal and I really think, when I looked in my dolphin’s eye, that we made a connection that will last forever) and someone I knew threw shade my way for getting to do it.

Don’t make me be the bad guy.

I felt shame for years after my 16th birthday, where my parents got me an Escalade. People at school made fun of me (especially after I drove into a ditch...oops!) and said I didn’t deserve the things I got in life.

I can think of a lot of people who probably don't deserve the things in life that they get, but you don't hear me hating on them (that's why we vote, people). Well, I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the luxuries I’m given, because they’ve made me who I am, and I love me.

I’m a good person.

I’m not going to let the Coachella haters bring me down anymore. Did my parents buy my ticket and VIP housing? Yes. Am I sorry about that? Absolutely not.

Sorry, not sorry!

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Harasta

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What Happened To My Country That I Love? The Radical Left Happened

They have made the young conservatives angry, and oh boy, will they regret that.
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What happened to the America I loved? What happened to the country that fought for liberties, not against them? What happened to my country? What happened?

I was terrified to enter the political world when I first began developing my own thoughts and opinions on many social and economic issues. I started to see this new side of the world that was boiling beneath the surface, ready to explode. I was unsure what to do with the information handed to me. But none-the-less, I fell in love with politics.

I found myself on the conservative side of the political spectrum. For anyone who knows me, this is not too much of a surprise. I was already incredibly pro-life and was one of the most outspoken people against the government being involved in my life. With a very conservative household, people tend to point at me and say that I have known no different. And maybe I haven’t.

What I have noticed in my time being incredibly active in politics is the increasing amount of worry and fear that has been radiating off the Right. They are afraid that they were the last generation of conservatives. They fear that free markets and our basic human rights are soon to head out the door.

But I am here to tell them, they are not the last wave of conservatism.

As I walked into the Midwest Regional Conference hosted by Turning Point USA (TPUSA) a couple weekends ago, I saw all I needed to see. One thousand college-aged conservatives, mingling around the room proud in their country and displaying their “Socialism Sucks” shirts.

One thousand does not sound like a lot, but each came from their college chapter representing another three or four students. Then, on top of that there are all the students on college campuses to afraid to say anything, and then there are those who simply are out of college or couldn’t come. This was only for the Midwest as well. There are numerous amounts of conferences hosted by TPUSA around the United States every year.

This was just one.

There is a new wave of conservatism that is coming, and I promise that we will not let our parents and grandparents down. We have already begun to speak out against the radical Left, that has left behind what our country was founded on.

We have grown tired of the ways of conservatives have always sat back and never spoken too loud. They have fought back in votes, petitions, and talk shows. This new wave is strong, and know that in order to fight back we have to be just as loud. It has begun already with organizations like Campus Reform, Lone Conservative, and Turning Point USA. All rooted in capitalism, free markets, and our civil liberties and rights.

We are here to fight for America, and to keep our lives and generations to come safe. We will not let the Left take away our defense, our speech, and the rest of what makes America, America. Because if we do, where else will we go?

What happened to the America I loved? It is still here and is here to stay.

What happened to the country that fought for liberties, not against them? It is still here and is here to stay.

What happened to my country? The radical Left happened.

What happened? They have made the young conservatives angry, and oh boy, will they regret that.

Cover Image Credit: aimeecustis / Flickr

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