“The Unique Oppression of African American Women in San Diego” – Benjamin Dolan

The Unique Oppression of African American Women in San Diego

When beginning to think about what I wanted to write my paper about, I focused on finding something that could show the life of a black woman in San Diego. I focused on this because I think that black women are obviously apart of two extremely marginalized groups of people. In America and San Diego alike, most publicly elected leaders and people of influence belong to the two most dominant groups, which are white’s when it comes to race and men when it comes to gender. Therefore, black women in San Diego belong to an extremely marginalized group because they are oppressed through both gender and race, giving them less opportunity and often even an identity of people “invisible”. I also wanted to see the differences between the black women population and the white women population. I found the perfect organization in the North County African American Women’s Association, because it provided me with sources to research this specific marginalized population. I was also able to analyze the similarities and differences between the NCAAWA and two other organizations, which were the NAACP and the African American Policy Forum. The North County African American Women’s Association helped contribute to the progress of black women in San Diego, and moreover, targeted their invisibility through pushing the idea of intersectionality, self-sufficiency, and by providing a stable support network through the last two decades.

The NCAAWA’s biggest contribution to the progress of black women in San Diego was, in my opinion, being able to further the idea of intersectionality and allow black women to be able to better understand their identity and furthermore allow them to understand that a black woman’s oppression and their self-image is different than the oppression of white women or black men. The idea of “intersectionality”, coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw, is the foundation of Crenshaw’s organization, called the African American Policy Forum, which “Promotes the frameworks and strategies that address a vision of racial justice that embraces the intersections of race, gender, class and the array of barriers that disempower those who are marginalized in society”. [1]This organization has many events that try to do the same as the NCAAWA, which is provide events that can help a black woman realize how her own self-image represents a different sort of oppression and help those girls feel comfortable with that image, here is an example of that. My first source was based off of a newspaper article in 2005 which talked about an event they put on, called the ninth annual women’s conference. The keynote speaker at the event was Lisa Nichols, who was the author of, “Chicken Soup for the African American Soul”. The theme of the event is “Creative connections, past, present, and future” and they wanted to focus on giving skills to girls so they could improve their self-image. The conference included workshops where they review books like “A Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren and even training sessions for teens to look at decision making, career and college choices, and even etiquette.[2]This is a prime example of the association reaching out into the community and following the ideas of not only the NCAAWA, but also the African American Policy Forum. They also hold this event every year it seems, so they must have a pretty good footprint in San Diego, especially North County.

Self-sufficiency is a major part of the purpose of this organization. A brief part in their mission statement says, “To provide a support network through education, health awareness, and life skill programs for women and girls in San Diego North County to increase their self-sufficiency”.[3]Being self-sufficient whether it is financially, socially, etc. when you are a part of an oppressed group shows major progress for that group because you have the self-empowerment to build yourself up no matter the obstacles. My second source has to do with a newspaper article that shows how the NCAAWA mentored black women in the community and provided them with resources to become self-sufficient. The North County African American Women’s Association was founded in 1995 and this article was written in 1996, so it gives us an indicator of how the association made a difference early on in its creation. The article describes how African American women who ranged from  7thgraders to septuagenarians gathered in classrooms and cafeteria tables for a single purpose, which was to promote the advancement of African-American women. This event of over 125 homemakers, military nurses, teachers and students at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School was organized by the NCAAWA. The theme for the day was, “If we don’t help ourselves, who should we expect to help us?”, so they focused on addressing a wide range of topics like, buying your first home, protecting and estate, operating a computer, etc.[4]This quote is critical and shows one of true main goals of this organization, which was to give self-empowerment and self-sufficiency to black women in North County, furthering their progress in San Diego. It is also critical because it gives a clear example of how this organization got out into the public quickly (less than a year after the creation of their association) and tried to mentor these African American women and move them out of oppression.

The organization also provided an incredible support network for black women, and we can even draw parallels between this organization and the NAACP. An article talks about the 20-year anniversary for the NCAAWA and how much they have accomplished so far. The event was held at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in oceanside, CA. It gives me a very good indicator of how well this group has affected African American women in San Diego since its creation in 1995. It speaks on how the nonprofit has grown into a “support network that empowers North County women through educational advancement, health awareness, and improvement in life skills”.[5]This can be seen from the events like the ones stated in previous paragraphs. This support network can be seen through their Women’s Conference for teens and young adults, support of local charities and organizations, community activities, networking events, and fundraising events, including the Author’s Garden Party and their annual Gentlemen’s Gourmet where the proceeds go to annual scholarship awards.[6]These scholarships are given to students wishing to continue their education at a community college, 4-year college, trade school, graduate school, etc.

We can look at national organizations, rather than another local organization, to see the connections of the NCAAWA’s support network to the greater United States. When looking at the National Council of Negro Women, we see that this national organization has programs similar to the NCAAWA, which deal with education, youth conservation, religious education, and even labor and industry. The NCNM also uses conferences to effectively to combine these different fields into a coherent program.[7]Lastly, we will also look at the connections to the NAACP. The National Advancement of Colored People was very much so a leader in creating programs against disenfranchisement, peonage, and US atrocities in the education system.[8]There are similarities here because the NCAAWA runs parallel to the NAACP because of their unique conferences and programs that supported disenfranchisement of black people and the further progress of black people’s education. The NAACP support federal court cases that ended segregation in schools, while the NCAAWA does their part today by providing educational support, stated previously in this paper.

This paper opened my eyes to how a small organization on the local level can have such a wide impact, and how these organizations take bits and pieces from national organizations. They may be smaller, but the NCAAWA’s efforts to create a support system, push for black self-sufficiency and the image of intersectionality has been incredibly important to black women in San Diego since its creation in 1995.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bibliography

 

“About NCAAWA.” About NCAAWA. Accessed May 07, 2019. https://www.ncaawa.org/about.

LINDA MCINTOSH. “Women’s group marks 20-year anniversary”. The San Diego Union Tribune. April 24, 2016 Sunday. https://advance-lexis-com.sandiego.idm.oclc.org/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:5JM8-8BJ1-JC8C-205S-00000-00&context=1516831.

 

“Our Mission.” AAPF, aapf.org/ourmission.

 

SANDRA DIBBLE. “Black women join to help themselves and one another; North County group promotes mentoring and achievement”. The San Diego Union-Tribune. April 14, 1996 Sunday. https://advance-lexis-com.sandiego.idm.oclc.org/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:4P7G-PY80-TWDC-M4CR-00000-00&context=1516831.

 

Watson, Denton L. “Assessing The Role Of The Naacp In The Civil Rights Movement.” The Historian55, no. 3 (1993): 453-68. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6563.1993.tb00905.x.

 

Williams, Lorraine A. “The Interracial Conference of the National Council of Negro Women.” The Journal of Negro Education26, no. 2 (1957): 204. doi:10.2307/2293357.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1]“Our Mission.” AAPF, aapf.org/ourmission.

[2]Linda McIntosh. “Conference aims to help women reach their goals”. The San Diego Union-Tribune. April 2, 2005 Saturday. https://advance-lexis-com.sandiego.idm.oclc.org/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:4FW6-1RR0-TWDC-M1Y1-00000-00&context=1516831.

 

     [3]”About NCAAWA.” About NCAAWA. Accessed May 07, 2019. https://www.ncaawa.org/about.

 

[4]SANDRA DIBBLE. “Black women join to help themselves and one another; North County group promotes mentoring and achievement”. The San Diego Union-Tribune. April 14, 1996 Sunday. https://advance-lexis-com.sandiego.idm.oclc.org/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:4P7G-PY80-TWDC-M4CR-00000-00&context=1516831.

 

[5]LINDA MCINTOSH. “Women’s group marks 20-year anniversary”. The San Diego Union Tribune. April 24, 2016 Sunday. https://advance-lexis-com.sandiego.idm.oclc.org/api/document?collection=news&id=urn:contentItem:5JM8-8BJ1-JC8C-205S-00000-00&context=1516831.

 

[6]“About NCAAWA.” About NCAAWA. Accessed May 07, 2019. https://www.ncaawa.org/about.

 

[7]Lorraine A. Williams.. “The Interracial Conference of the National Council of Negro Women.” The Journal of Negro Education26, no. 2 (1957): 204. doi:10.2307/2293357.

 

 

[8]Denton L. Watson. “Assessing the Role of the NAACP in the Civil Rights Movement.” The Historian 55, no. 3 (1993): 453-68. http://www.jstor.org.sandiego.idm.oclc.org/stable/24448609.

 

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