susanreads: my avatar, a white woman with brown hair and glasses (Default)
[personal profile] susanreads
It's Helen Keller Day on Second Life, and for those of us who don't hang out there, FWD is hosting a Mythbusting Blogswarm. Until recently I only knew the usual story about how "miracle worker" Anne Sullivan taught Helen to communicate. Her life after that isn't so widely publicised, possibly because she grew up to have opinions of her own and be a political activist. "Inspiring" stories of "overcoming" disability is one thing; real women with Opinions is something else.

From Wikipedia:
Keller went on to become a world-famous speaker and author. She is remembered as an advocate for people with disabilities amid numerous other causes. She was a suffragist, a pacifist, an opponent of Woodrow Wilson, a radical Socialist and a birth control supporter. In 1915 she and George Kessler founded the Helen Keller International (HKI) organization. This organization is devoted to research in vision, health and nutrition. In 1920 she helped to found the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).


She also wrote books, and articles, including How I Became a Socialist, which includes her response to an article that assumed she had "imbibed such opinions" from "Mrs. John Macy" (Anne Sullivan):
Mr. Macy may be an enthusiastic Marxist propagandist, though I am sorry to say he has not shown much enthusiasm in propagating his Marxism through my fingers. Mrs. Macy is not a Marxist, nor a socialist. Therefore what the Common Cause says about her is not true. The editor must have invented that, made it out of whole cloth, and if that is the way his mind works, it is no wonder that he is opposed to socialism. He has not sufficient sense of fact to be a socialist or anything else intellectually worthwhile.
I think she would do well in Bloglandia!


More posts about Helen Keller can be found at the blogswarm master post. Some of her political writing is online at the Helen Keller Reference Archive.

I seem to have used rather a lot of scare quotes here.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-06-19 14:23 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] disstud.blogspot.com
Ha, I think you're right--HK would have been a very interesting blogger (or even tweeter!). She wasn't afraid of getting into a verbal tussle, and you picked a good quote to illustrate that.

(no subject)

Date: 2010-06-19 17:05 (UTC)
From: [personal profile] phoneutria_fera
Yes, indeed, Helen Keller would probably have been a good blogger/tweep. Too bad the Internet didn't exist in her day, but we have her works to remember anyway.

The racism of this day

Date: 2010-06-19 17:38 (UTC)
From: [identity profile] womanist-musings.com
Today is Juneteenth and it is the celebration of Blacks for the emancipation of slavery. Of course you saw no need to mention it in your post because it's not like disabled Black people would give a shit right? (http://www.womanist-musings.com/2010/06/why-i-am-not-celerbrating-helen-keller.html) Racism much? What's the matter was it too hard for you to add that in your post? You couldn't say hey Blacks have to two reasons to celebrate today because what? I'll tell you what we don't fucking matter. Shame on you!

Re: The racism of this day

Date: 2010-06-20 05:45 (UTC)
youngsoulrebel: (Breakfast of Champions)
From: [personal profile] youngsoulrebel
Juneteenth is also on Wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juneteenth

Do you know why certain people have decided that "Helen Keller Day" should be June 19 when her date of birth was June 27, she died on 1 June 1968, and the NYC premier of The Miracle Worker was 23 May 1962?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helen_Keller
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0056241/releaseinfo

I'm hard pressed to find how the date June 19 is significant at all to Helen Keller.

Re: The racism of this day

Date: 2010-06-21 00:54 (UTC)
amadi: Commander Spock (portrayed by actor Zachary Quinto) makes a "just one second" gesture with one finger (Wait a Second (Spock))
From: [personal profile] amadi
Seeing as how you don't live in the U.S. I see no reason why you would've known that June 19th was Juneteenth. Moreover, I strongly believe that this furor has led people to think that Juneteenth holds more significance than it does. Some places have big public celebrations, others have absolutely nothing; I didn't know that the day existed until I was in my 20s, my city, where more than a quarter of the population is Black has no formal recognition of the day whatsoever, and has only had one or two minor public celebrations in my adult life. It isn't a national holiday, there is no standard for observance and this isn't a day that the vast majority of Black people hold so sacred that nothing else, particularly something as limited as a "blogswarm," can take place simultaneously.

Also angry

Date: 2010-06-28 08:03 (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Also disappointed and angry that you participated in this stealing of such an important holiday. Juneteenth is a big deal and not something to be brushed aside, but you just couldn't be bothered to do the reasearch before joining in the culture-appropriating fun, could you? And to be so casual and inattentive when responding to womanist-musings calling you out on your racism... so nasty.

(My Google ID is "Andrea Todd" but that wasn't a "From" option here)
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