This year, the United States Mint decided that Maya Angelou will be the first black woman to appear on a coin. In this Black History Month, it is important to pay tribute to this wonderful woman1 Maya Angelou, symbol of the resilience of black women, as well as Viola Desmond, a Canadian who fought against racial injustice and to make her voice heard. These women remind us that the struggle for social justice is as long as it is winding.
How to speak of Maya Angelou, this multi-faceted woman who overcame many tragedies by embracing life directly? She has been a dancer, actress, singer, writer, editor and scholar. An activist in the civil rights movement, he collaborated with Martin Luther King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.
Maya Angelou, this force of nature knows how to alchemize trials. She was raped at age 7 by her mother’s husband who was killed when she left jail. For six years, convinced that his condemnation had led to the murder of his father, he hid himself in absolute silence.
His being a well -known writer and poet around the world did not hinder this episode. Maya Angelou said, “We may encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated. »
In his most famous poem, I still get upthe2, he sends his strength to us: “You can bring me down with your words, / Cut me off with your eyes, / Kill me in your anger, / But like the wind, I rise again. Or You can bring me down for History / With your bitter and crooked lies, / You can pull me into the mud / But like dust I rise again. »
As the first black monetary effigy, it is still rising!
In 2018, Viola Desmond became the first black woman to appear in the Canadian currency.
Born in 1914, in Halifax, Viola Desmond dreamed of opening a beauty salon without beauty schools accepting black women. Instead of giving up her dream, she trained as a hairdresser and beautician in Montreal and the United States. Modern, she was one of the first to create a range of cosmetics for black women.
In November 1946, becoming the owner of her institute and running a beauty school, Viola Desmond made a business trip to New Glasgow. He then had a problem with his car. While he was waiting for it to be fixed, he decided to go to the cinema. He settles down on the floor, access to which is forbidden to blacks, which he does not know. The staff let him go and sit on the balcony.
Viola Desmond will be arrested and dragged out of the cinema. Because he hadn’t yet paid the penny tax for the pit ticket. He was charged with tax evasion, a charge he defended in court.
It was therefore for a penny that a legal battle began. Viola will lose, but in challenging this accusation, she opposes both racial injustice and segregation in Canada.
By mobilizing the black community of Nova Scotia, he stimulated the civil rights movement in Canada with remarkable courage. Against this, he paid an immeasurable amount: a divorce as well as the loss of his business.
Separation of spaces was actively carried out. Although unofficial, segregation was adopted by shops, cinemas and restaurants. In Montreal, blacks were denied such access, both in the cinema and in the liquor store.
The restrictions that existed at the time of the separation moved places, spaces. However, it cannot be ignored that neighborhoods, schools, workplaces, public spaces and some professions remain virtually white. These white spaces, white spaces, are explicitly “forbidden” to black men and women or even if they are not welcome there. Spaces where they are allowed only on condition of compliance.
Racism in the United States Mint
On January 21, the New York Timesin the article “Racial Turmoil Mars Signs of Progress at the US Mint”, ironically reminds us that the struggles are not over.
The unveiling of this tribute coin to Maya Angelou coincided with the appointment of the first black woman to head the United States Mint.
Note that it was only in 2017 that questions about a racist culture were made public. A survey of New York Times revealed that, according to a report, the United States Mint’s workplace was plagued by implicit prejudice, racial discrimination as well as microaggressions against black people.
The report points out that “black employees feel threatened, marginalized and professionally disabled”. It also teaches outdated policies, the existence of clans, nepotism and unclear promotional practices.
Hiding Systemic Racism Issues
The instrumentalization of black people through symbolic appointments in the promotion process to hide the problems of sexism and systemic racism, a form of tokenism, is the subject of the report’s findings.
In interviews, executives mentioned that “if we put a member of a minority as the deputy director of U.S. money, minorities will see that we are not racist or sexist.”
This is not the same as the case where women, blacks were promoted to leadership positions during the crisis (the phenomenon of plateau of glassor glass cliff).
For Black Lives to matter, this kind of instrumentalization must be avoided. The time has come to make real changes in society so that people who are discriminated against no longer have to bear the weight of the challenges inherent in any change.
Medal holder jubilee of queen elizabeth (2012), I Tamara Thermitus Ad.E has received numerous awards including Merit of the Barreau du Québec (2011). He was the first black lawyer to be awarded this recognition.
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