A few months back, I attended a lecture given by Loretta Ross on JMU’s campus. For those of you who don’t know her, let me give you a brief introduction:
Loretta Ross was born in Texas into a family of eight kids. She attended college at Howard University and is now a great grandmother. She started her career in the women’s movement in the 1970’s, working at the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, NOW (the National Organization for Women), SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective from 1977-2012, the Center for Democratic Renewal/National Anti-Klan Network, the National Center for Human Rights Education, and the National Black Women’s Health Project. She is one of the co-creators of the Reproductive Justice framework in 1994, and has lectured and written extensively on reproductive justice issues, human rights, racism, appropriate whiteness, Calling in the Calling Out Culture, diversity issues, and violence against women.
Ross has appeared on CNN, BET, Good Morning America, National Geographic Channel, and the Oprah Winfrey Network to name a few. She has been quoted as an expert in The New York Times, Time Magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and many other newspapers and magazines. She has received honorary doctorate degrees from Smith College and Arcadia University, and holds a B.A. from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. Loretta is a rape survivor, was forced to raise a child born of incest, and she is also a survivor of sterilization abuse. She is a model of how to survive and thrive despite the traumas that disproportionately affect low-income women of color.
Alright, maybe that wasn’t so brief. But this woman isn’t too be taken lightly. Her life, her words, and her mission should be yelled from the rooftops.
During the lecture, she covered an array of topics ranging from white supremacy to reproductive justice to human rights, and more. The short hour that was provided for her speech was nowhere near enough time for her to say everything she wanted to say. She actually ended up going over her allotted time by 30 minutes. The supervisors seemed annoyed, but she didn’t seem to give a f*@k. Loretta Ross is a humanist. She isn’t afraid to call people on their bullshit and create a dialogue about the most feared topics in the world.
For example, white supremacy. According to Ross, Americans are in a fundamental battle of values. By this, she meant: do we want America to be egalitarian or authoritarian? She said, “Trump is not the cause, he’s the outcome of centuries of white supremacy in this country.”
Ross believes white supremacy has never really disappeared, it’s just morphed into new disguises throughout history. The way our country is practicing white supremacy today is by deciding that we don’t like the mechanics of democracy anymore, so we deconstruct the institutions that are supposed to support our fundamental human rights. Ross believes that the one percent of people who think Trump is good are the ones deconstructing democracy so they can continue to make money and avoid spending money on the necessary changes, such as movements to help the environment. White supremacists like to define themselves as “victims” using whatever violent means they can think of to protect themselves from the supposed “threats” in our country. However, all of these “means” they use for protection are about making a profit. Ross used misuses of religious fervor as an example. When the Catholic church, initially composed of mainly white people, first began recruiting people to the church, their claim was that one could find God, repent their sins, go to heaven, etc. However, the bottom line of their campaign was to increase power, control, and make money.
Now, I’m not saying I hold the exact same beliefs as Ross. I am weary about her opinion regarding Catholicism, even though I don’t consider myself religious in anyway. I do, however, believe white supremacy still exists, it just looks different than it used to. It’s learned how to disguise itself over time. White supremacy seems to have learned from its mistakes throughout history and is becoming more stealthy and more manipulative. However, Trump is doing a terrible job at disguising anything. He is the poster child for white supremacy.
I spent 90 minutes with Loretta Ross. Her perceptions, opinions, and solutions to world problems were incredibly eye opening. She has a strong and present voice, there is no way to tune her out. We need more women like her. No censorship, no regard for hurt feelings, just straight honesty.
I wish I could write about Loretta Ross all damn day, but unfortunately, I have boring things to get done. Like statistics homework. Barf.
To say the least, Loretta Ross is on my list of boss ass woman. She is a role model and a hero. I highly recommend reading her books and hearing her speak.
For now, hang loose and rock on.