It’s hard to speak truth to power and to stand up to folk who seem like the most powerful folk around. Doing so often leads to severe consequences. And yet it remains one of the most important things an individual can do.
Eartha Kitt knew this well:
Kitt became a leading light in the civil rights movement in the 1960s but when she condemned the Vietnam war on a visit to the White House her career in the US ended and the CIA branded her “a sadistic nymphomaniac”. —The Guardian
The CIA, people.
If you don’t know about this incident, here’s a short video on the subject.
The fallout from this lasted years and drove Kitt to Europe for decades. And all she did was ask a simple question that amounted to “Do Black lives matter as much as white ones?”
If you don’t know much about Eartha Kitt beyond Batman and Santa Baby, then it’s really worth tracking down one of her biographies. It looks like they’re all out of print, but many are available on Amazon. She wrote several over her long life and career, and some of the later ones are more easily obtained for reasonable prices.
Read about her life in her own words, about that incident with the Johnsons, about the backlash that ensued and how it felt to be targeted for being Black and having the nerve to speak your mind. And then do what’s in your power to follow Kitt’s example. Hathor knows we need more people like her right now.
Table of contents for Tempest Challenge: Black History Month
- Tempest Challenge: Black History Month Edition
- Black Women in 19th Century American Life | Tempest Challenge BHM
- The Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Scott Woods: Just Read Everything He Writes | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Eartha Kitt’s Biographies | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Zora Neale Hurston: A Life in Letters | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Melissa Harris-Perry at ELLE | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Why Black Stories Matter – Adam H.C. Myrie | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Sun Ra and Afrofuturism | Tempest Challenge BHM
- My Life, My Love, My Legacy by Coretta Scott King | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Parable of the Sower / Parable of the Talents by Octavia E Butler | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Linda Addison Will Scare You (In A Good Way) | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools by Monique W. Morris | Tempest Challenge BHM
- Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi | Tempest Challenge BHM