COULD SOJOURNER TRUTH be a liar?

When white male after white male stood up and denounced suffrage for women as “unladylike,” Sojourner Truth stood up and asked if she, African and strong, was one of these so-called ladies. You see, she had bent her back under the sun next to her African brothers. She had literally slaved at their side.

“And ain’t I a woman?”

Over a century later her African sisters want to stand against racism next to their brothers in the Million Man March, and to challenge them to greater ways of thinking. Jonetta Rose Barras stands up and denounces them (“Ain’t Nothing But a He Thing,” 10/13). Why? Because she doesn’t open her car door. She doesn’t mow her own lawn. And, according to her, her foremothers did not do any significant manual tasks. According to her, the march “is a he thing” and a real woman doesn’t “wear a man’s clothing too often or too long” because she might “forget herself.” In short, she says, those women are being unladylike.

Could my foremother, Sojourner Truth, be a liar?

I am a proud African-American woman. I support my brothers’ quest to come to examine what it means to be a man. But the manhood of white Washington City Paper fantasy and American society should have nothing to do with our life. In this racist society, there is no room for a “male zone” that champions the violence between grandfather and grandson as “communication.” And no room for a male zone where my quest as a woman for self-determination and justice is degraded, whittled down to merely wanting to “wear a man’s clothing.”

No more so than my quest for justice as an African-American is merely “wanting to be white.”

Sojourner Truth was no liar. But when City Paper places an Amos ‘n’ Andy ad at the end of an article that should have been about racial justice, we African people take note of the lie. White men in black face.

And Barras?

Mount Pleasant

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