As I was reading the Elsa Barkley Brown article titled “What Has Happened Here”: The Politics of Differences in Women History and Feminist Politics”, I found myself confused as to why the author wanted to make Anita Hill’s race so prevalent in the testimony of her sexual harassment case. Brown starts out talking about Hill supporters and the fact that they should and did ignore her race, background and other matters: “When Prof. Hill testified, a number of women rallied to support her…however (they) ignored the fact that she is a Black women, the thirteenth child of Oklahoma farmers, or treated these as merely descriptive or incidental matters” (302).As I read it, I thought ignoring those facts was a good idea so all women could relate and support her. I agreed with those facts as descriptive of her and not as important as the issue. Having not her race but her sexual harassment as the central issue, I thought would help everybody relate and support her. If the media described her as a Black working class woman who got sexual harassed by a Black man, people my not relate or support her as much. Making race the main issue would just distract from the important issue of stopping sexual harassment. Having Hill’s working class status be a main issue ,could also make other women in the middle or upper class think sexual harassment only happens to “them,” leaving them unaware of the fact that it can and does happen to all different types of women.
After re-reading this section, I realized why talking about her race and class WAS important. I didn’t realize that sexual harassment has been a prevalent part of black women’s pasts. Brown notes: “A collective memory of sexual harassment runs deep in African American communities and many Black women, especially those born before the 1960s’ civil rights movements, would likely recognize sexual harassment not as a singular experience but as part of a collective and common history” (304). Brown also says, and I agree, that socializing sexual harassment is important and in doing so may make more men and women come out and talk about it. I have realized now that the more people talk about how race functions in sexual harassment, the more people can do to stop it.