A recent controversy stemming from the Indianapolis Women’s March is bringing into question allegedly racially coded messaging from a local Professor and Women’s Rights Advocate.
Sheila Suess Kennedy – a Professor of Law and Policy at IUPUI’s School of Public & Environmental Affairs – is receiving backlash for her blog post targeting the leaders of Local Activism Group Indy10 Black Lives Matter.
According to multiple people in attendance, when given time to address the crowd during the event, Indy10 Black Lives Matter Co-founders Kyra Harvey and Leah Humphrey addressed systematic white supremacy enabled by the “traditional” feminist movement, apathy to Black Women’s social causes, and also called Hillary Clinton a “violent and racist candidate” while distancing themselves from the Democratic Party.
These words solicited a response from Sheila Suess Kennedy, who was in attendance during the rally. In a blog post entitled “We hang together, or we’ll all hang separately” she listed several concerns she had with the words from the Indy10 leaders.
There was one unfortunate discordant note.
The first speech was given by two very young co-presenters representing Black Lives Matter, and they delivered a full-blown attack on the women in attendance–women who were virtually all there as allies. (They reminded me of those pastors who deliver sermons criticizing people who don’t come to church– to the people sitting in church.)
What was so distressing about their diatribe was that most of the points they were making were valid, and could have been made in a way that brought people together rather than dividing and offending them. As my son said, halfway through their very lengthy diatribe, the message should be “let’s all fight White Supremacy,” not “All you white women are White Supremacists.” (And that was before they told an overwhelmingly Democratic crowd that Hillary Clinton was corrupt, privileged and racist, and deserved to lose.)….
You don’t win elections by unnecessarily alienating your friends and allies.
Democrats need to ask themselves what they want: to set themselves apart, cloaked in self-satisfied moral superiority? or to win and be in a position to make things better?
I think we should listen to Ben Franklin.
The article created a flurry of comments throughout its comment section and social media — much of which was outrage and disappointment in the overall message, including the alleged racially insensitive headline.
An official response from Indy10 Black Lives Matter condemned Kennedy’s grievances, and also called into question the title of the article –which appears to many to be a direct reference to slave ownership and lynching.
The full quote which inspired the headline “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately” was uttered by American founding father Benjamin Franklin — who also owned and sold slaves; including a newspaper in the 1730’s that advertised slaves for sale. The connections between Kennedy’s headline, slavery, and the lynching of thousands of Blacks throughout American history — combined with the condemnation of two Black Women speaking out against white supremacy — led many readers to call the column racially insensitive and problematic.
“It is inappropriate for a white woman while critiquing black women to use a quote referencing lynching, especially from a white man who owned slaves until his death. “ – Indy10 BLM Official Statement
At the time of this story, Sheila Suess Kennedy has not further clarified or responded to the criticism for her story, and could not be reached for a statement.