March is Women’s History Month
Christina Greer Ph.D. | 3/7/2019, 12:57 p.m.
Women’s History Month was established in 1987 after several states petitioned to extend the appreciation of women’s contributions beyond the already established Women’s History Week. Black History Month 2019 felt like a series of assaults almost on a daily basis. From teachers having students pick cotton to watching the disrespect of Black elected officials and those from religious and ethnic minorities. This year, as always, I am extending Black History Month to encompass an intersectional appreciation of the accomplishments of Black women for the month of March.
As I write, I am listening to Solange’s new work of brilliance. Her newest album “This is Solange” is a musical journey filled with detail: eclectic sounds, complex instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics. This album is right on time. These past few months I have been obsessed with the musical catalogs of Chaka Khan and Alice Coltrane, two other brilliant artists who should be celebrated this month. It is my plan to celebrate the artistic accomplishments of Black women this month in a deliberate manner.
In pursuit of that goal, I recently saw “Behind the Sheet” at the Ensemble Theater, a fictional retelling of the lives of enslaved African women who were experimented on by their master all for the advancement of his medical career. This play is by far one of the most thought-provoking and well-executed plays I have ever seen. The playwright Charly Evon Simpson has introduced us to characters from the 1840s that are self-actualized. The acting and writing will leave you thinking about race, class, region, technology and modern medicine. Simpson’s storytelling stays with you long after the play has ended and I suspect we have only seen the beginning of her intellect and contributions to theater as a Black female playwright and storyteller. “Behind the Sheet” has been extended three times already. The show ends on March 10 and if you are lucky enough to score a last minute ticket, you will thank me in perpetuity.
I am also going to read Tayari Jones’ masterpiece “An American Marriage” this month. I know I am behind the times and many people have already consumed her award-winning fiction. However, after devouring Jesmyn Ward’s “Where the Line Bleeds” and “Sing, Unburied, Sing” last month, I am ready to explore even more fiction by leading American writers, who also happen to be African-American women.
It is my sincere hope that we can spend this month celebrating the countless seen and unseen Black women in our daily lives and from the past. Whether celebrating the arts or supporting organizations run by women, I plan to make this March the most intentional in my support of Black women in all artistic, professional and political spheres.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” the co-host of the new podcast FAQ-NYC, and the host of The Aftermath and The Counter on Ozy.com.