Keeping Score: Pride Month, COVID-19 and Black Women’s Fight for Progress

In every issue of Ms., we track research on our progress in the fight for equality, catalogue can’t-miss quotes from feminist voices and keep tabs on the feminist movement’s many milestones. We’re Keeping Score online, too—in in this biweekly round-up.


Lest We Forget

+ Former First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks to the class of 2020 were the inspiration this country needs. In a time when things are feeling out of control, she reminded young people to speak up.

“Don’t ever, ever let anyone tell you that you’re too angry, or that you ‘should keep your mouth shut.’There will always be those who want to keep you silent, to have you be seen but not heard, or maybe they don’t even want to see you at all. But those people don’t know your story, and if you listen to them, then nothing will ever change.”

+ Rep. Lorena Gonzalez of the California State Assembly offered some thoughts about speaking up:

“I don’t want to see a single one of my fellow legislators post about #blacklivesmatter but not vote on #ACA5 next week. Black lives matter in government contracting & college admissions, too.”

(ACA5 would restore affirmative action in California.)

+ Author J.K. Rowling is in hot water after criticizing journalists for using the phrase “people who menstruate” to be more inclusive of transgender and non-binary individuals.  The transphobic comments sparked reactions from cast members of the Harry Potter franchise and fans worldwide. 


Milestones

+ This past June 12 was the 53rd anniversary of Loving vs. Virginia, the Supreme Court case that made interracial marriage legal in the United States. The date is fondly celebrated as Loving Day.

+ The coronavirus family was discovered by a woman. In 1966, June Almeida captured an image of a previously unknown pathogen with an electron microscope—that pathogen was the first identified of the coronavirus family that causes human disease. While the discovery seems especially important in light of COVID-19, a strain of coronavirus, her prowess with the electron microscope was highly respected in her day.


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+ U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors repealed the 2017 policy requiring players to stand during the national anthem. The rule was only adopted after star player Megan Rapinoe—who led the women’s team to victory in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup—knelt during the national anthem to show support for former quarterback Colin Kaepernick. U.S. Soccer’s statement opened with “The U.S. Soccer Federation affirms Black Lives Matter, and we support the fight against racial injustices.”

+ On June 11, a new Washington Business Corporation Act (WBCA, SB 6037) that requires gender diversity on the public company boards headquartered in Washington took effect. Although more of a statement than a real shift towards gender parity, this move is a step in the right direction—especially where business is concerned. A similar 2018 California law saw some quantifiable change—good news for Washington, where there are still 14 companies that rely on boards that are all-male or majority-male, most notably T-Mobile. 

+ West Virginia has elected its first openly transgender official, Rosemary Ketchum, who will sit on the city of Wheeling’s city council.

(@rosemaryketchum / Instagram)

+ Louisville, Ky.’s Metro Council unanimously voted to ban no-knock warrants—the type of warrant that allowed police to raid Breonna Taylor’s home and led to her murder on March 13. The legislation is called Breonna’s Law in her honor. Mayor Greg Fischer has already vowed to sign the ban into law—though the three officers involved in the incident have been placed on administrative leave and have yet to be arrested. 


How We’re Doing

+ On Monday, the Supreme Court decided that the Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian and transgender employees from workplace discrimination. The ruling was 6-3, with conservatives Justice Neil Gorsuch (who wrote the opinion) and Chief Justice John Roberts joining the four liberal justice. The ruling “came as a shock to many.

+ Black women are still woefully underrepresented in academia. A 2019 study found that though Black people make up 13 percent of the U.S. population, only 2 percent of college professors in the country are Black women, and another 2 percent are Black men. As colleges and universities make plans for the fall in light of the coronavirus pandemic, having diverse faculty mentors who can be thoughtful resources for students is perhaps more important than ever.

+ Pride Month is a cause for celebration—and also a good time to reflect on how much progress is still left to be made for LGBTQ equality in the United States. According to figures published by the Human Rights Campaign, 42 percent of LGBTQ youth say “the community in which they live is not accepting of LGBTQ people.” A more encouraging figure is that nine in 10 LGBTQ youth say they are out to their friends, and two in three are out at school. 

+ Recent economic hardship is disproportionately impacting women. When businesses shuttered in April, 55 percent of the jobs lost that month were held by women. That could be due to the recession targeting female-dominated leisure and hospitality industries, as well as education. And it’s worse for women of color: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in April, the unemployment rate for women was 15.5 percent, but the rate increased to 16.4 percent for Black women and 20.2 percent for Latinas.

(And these stats are likely skewed too low: While data released from the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics cited that 2.5 million jobs were added to the market in May—an albeit small but seemingly hopeful uptick compared to April—the Bureau later acknowledged that nearly 4.9 million people were falsely counted as employed. Had the mistake been remedied, April’s unemployment rate would have been closer to 19.5 percent—rather than the still record-breaking 14.7 percent figure released—and May’s closer to 16.1 percent.)


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About and

Sarah Montgomery is a senior at USC. She is passionate about using writing as a tool for social change. Her Starbucks beverage of choice is the iced skinny vanilla latte—personal cup and reusable straw, of course.
Caroline is a senior at Dartmouth College, studying English, Art History, and Religion. She has previously published work in Lady Science magazine and a series of children's books based on scientific research. Follow her on twitter @caroline_e_cook .