We've all been in lockdown for months, glued to the news, Russian political meddling and economic meltdown and of course, the global pandemic. Join Rund Abdelfattah and run team Arab Louis, the hosts of Throughline, NPR's history podcast from Typhoid Mary, forced into quarantine for 30 years to conspiracy theories. An all-American pastime throughline make sense of today by diving into the past. Listen to Through Line from NPR every Thursday. Wherever you get your podcasts. Welcome to Altogether Now Fridays with The Moth, I'm your host for This Week, when McNeal as the moth digital media assistant, my work is primarily seen and not heard.
I'm so excited to be on Mike this week, but if you really want to see what I do for The Moth on Instagram, at Moth Stories, on Twitter and Facebook at The Moth this month, all together now is all about connection. Here at The Moth, we believe empathy. The ability to understand and share the feelings of another is a great way to inspire to connection. This past summer, a shared feeling of anger towards systemic injustice connected me to fellow protesters all across the world.
Today, August 28th, marks three months of daily protests in New York City. So we're bringing you two stories about anger and its power to heal and spark change. Our first story this week is from an era and came to us through the mass global community program when she told the story at a workshop for women and girls in Nairobi, Kenya. Here's an live at the mosque. OK. Two years ago, I'm driving home from work, as you should, and it's Nairobi.
So on a three lane road, there's about 10 lanes happening, which is fine, it's normal.
And as I'm driving a car, which is overlapping, hits me, hits the car, hits my car, and it's a very gentle love tap.
It's just like just a whisper of an accident and.
I was going to just brush it off as a kind of thing where, you know, it's not even really going to show a scratch, but the man driving rolls down his window and starts shouting at me like women drivers.
Why can't you keep that? And I'm furious.
A key. He did that. He was. And then he hit me and he's screaming at me and he's driving past me slowly and traffic, still shouting obscenities at me. And I'm so angry. My hands start shaking. I'm holding the steering wheel.
So what do I do? Nothing, I just sit. And a memory comes to mind when since I was a kid, I was I used to be this tantrum throwing kid. I was the kind of kid who adults were scared of and. Something you learn very quickly, if you're an angry kid, particularly an angry black girl, is that you should not grow up to become an angry black woman. At best, you'll be irritating.
At worst, you will get killed.
So right from an early age, I was told how to sit up straight, how to be quiet, how to bury that anger down and keep it within myself.
And I'm nine years old and my mom brings home sausages, a packet of 12. And I need to clarify that I love sausages. I know you're laughing. No, no, I loved sausages and I have two brothers, one older by eight years, one younger by two.
And once the sausage was brought home as growing up, you know, to be a lady of decorum, we called a referendum about the sausages.
We had a long discussion and we decided collectively that of the 12 I would get to, they would get 10 would get up at eight a.m. the next day, on Sunday morning to make them together and eat them while watching cartoons. It was a very clear agreement.
And I go to bed and I wake up and they smell sausages and I'm so excited, like my brothers love me so much. They decided to make the sausages for me. I don't even have to cook.
I go downstairs and they're sitting full, very full on the table and they're looking at me with the empty plates in front of them and they feel the reach.
My hand is shaking, but I'm a lady of decorum and ask, um, so what was where's my sausage? And my brothers just look at me. And they were like, no, it's over.
Nothing else. This is when my memory fades to white.
I remember only that I found I had a wooden spoon in my hand and my six foot 17 year old brother was running away from me and I am screaming, I am I hear my mother running down the stairs.
She comes out and she's like, Hey, what are you doing?
She gives the threat. You always give us a siblings.
When we fought like a whoever wins, I'm going to spank. Then I'm going to spank the loser next year. But I don't I don't even care. I'm so mad. And I look at her and in a fit of rage and being so upset, we agreed to eat the sausages.
And it's not fair and it's not right.
And I'm so furious and my mother listens. And when I finally calm enough for her to understand, she pauses and looks at me and says.
Hmm, OK. How do it? Yeah. The joy, the joy of the Lord granting you the gift of smiting your enemies with righteous anger.
I was so happy I was chasing them around the house and they could do nothing to me because I knew I was right. And my mother said so.
So there and. I'm back in the car shaking with rage and looking at this guy who's now driven past afterwards shouted at me and to hear it again. Hi. Do it, get out of the car and walk down the highway, my door is open, my bag is hanging out money, I don't even care. And I go to his car window and they grab it like, hey, where you going? Can just hit me and drive off.
The man is like, what is happening? Like, no, you can't do that. But that starts screaming instructions, telling everybody on the road what to do and how to do it. Watch him watch my car, get the police, get off the side of the road and he tries to shout me down. And at that moment, I was not a lady of decorum.
I was that angry nine year old girl being like, You will not talk to me that way. Excuse me. I have been doing this since I was born. You want to have a shouting match?
Lego and we shout at each other until he finally pauses and he's like, OK, ok, ok, fine, fine.
Madame, what do you want?
And I wanted the same thing then that I wonder when my brothers took those sausages, I wanted an apology and just like them, he looked at me and said, OK, I'm sorry.
Thank you. That was an MORAR, and as a Kenyan feminist cultural worker who writes, edits and performs, she's the M in Lamb Sisterhood, an award winning story company that fills the world with stories for African women to feel, seen, heard and loved. And she's at work on her debut novel, all while eating copious amounts of chilli lemon crisps and told this story with us a few years ago. And when we asked her how she feels about it now, she said, I'm seeing more and more that rage is a lighthouse.
It guides me in knowing this cannot do and then revealing what must be done by allowing myself to feel it as a child and now better at harnessing my anger and speaking it into the world with empathy and firmness. Young me was always right. Our last story today is from Caroline Hunter. Caroline told the story at a mainstay show on Martha's Vineyard, where the theme of the night was occasional magic.
Here's Caroline live at the mall.
I was born in 1946, the fourth of six children born to Marian and Stephen Hunter in segregated New Orleans, the six of us walked five blocks to Corpus Christi Elementary School for our formative education.
And we were kept busy, very, very busy. When Corpus Christi Summercamp let out, we had to go to the local public library to sign up for the Summer Reading Club. And soon developed an acute love of books and reading. And I think I read every book in an orange of a public library by the time I left New Orleans. For high school, I went on to Xavier Prep and we had to travel across town on segregated public buses.
I've sat behind the colored sign. I drank a lot of colored water. I even shopped at the Bulls were at five and dime, where you could not try on clothes nor sit at the counter and eat. In high school, I had missed the Valda who we called the. He taught us about the civil rights movement and chided us to get involved. But we lived in the protective bubble of segregation.
We had black everything we needed teachers, lawyers, doctors, retail businesses of every kind, seamstresses, other shops.
So while the civil rights movement was going around us, we were not involved. But there was one thing Mr. Volda did that reached me.
He introduced us to cry the beloved country. The story of the lives of blacks in South Africa under apartheid. There were many things in that book that resonated with my segregated life, and I was so deeply moved by the suffering and the pain of the Africans in that story that I recited passages of the book to my family and friends. Little did I know that that book cry the beloved country would change my life. I went on to Xavier University and graduated in 1964 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry.
In my junior year, Robert Kennedy was assassinated. Months after I graduated, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. I was hired by the Polaroid Corporation at the filling out a brochure, a recruiting brochure sent to the historically black colleges. I arrived in Cambridge fulfilling the dream of a young girl.
I was a working professional at the Polaroid Corporation. I integrated the color labs where I was hired. There were other black workers, but I was the first professional research scientist hired there. While at Polaroid, I joined the Boston motivation program. It was a corporate effort to donate workers to go into the Boston public schools to motivate the children, but I was troubled by some things when I entered the classroom. When I mentioned this in the group's follow up group, leaders said, oh, no, we can't deal with this.
We just have to go in and do the best job we can. There was one other person who was equally troubled as I was. That was Ken Williams. He was a Polaroid photographer and we developed a friendship and eventually a relationship on the day of the historic moment when I went to pick him up for lunch, he was in the back lab. And so we had to walk through the rooms.
And for some reason, on the way out, we noticed an ID badge. Maybe it was the picture of the other black worker, the only other black guy in the shop that was on the Dibadj that caught our attention. Below his name was the phrase Department of the Mines Union of South Africa.
I'm sure we froze for a while, looking at the car at. Ken took it off the board. And we examined it to see if it was real. And then he said, I didn't know Polaroid was in South Africa. And I said. I know it's a bad place for black people. And all the memories of Mr. Valder and cry, the beloved country. And all the memories, the stories that I read of the pain and suffering of the African masses.
Came rushing back to me. That evening, we went to the library, looked up South African encyclopedia and checked out tons of books on South Africa. We researched and read. The more we read, the more we wanted to know. The more we knew, the more horrified we were. We learned of the rules and laws of the system of apartheid, the legal separation of people by race and skin color, the denial of the right to vote, and the repression often caused by not having a pass book, a 60 page document that every African had to carry on their person at all times.
And Polaroid was making the photos for those passbooks. And we decided that as black workers, that Polaroid, we had to do something.
Can make the leaflet. Using Polaroid's favorite slogan. An instant picture in a minute. The leaflets said Polaroid imprisons black people in 60 seconds. They sold their system to South Africa. They'll sell it to Rhodesia, Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia to seize the times.
We went to the office of the Ole Mole, a radical newspaper in the South for many organizing groups in Cambridge, and use their mimeograph machine to reproduce our leaflet. And then we headed to my workshop, The Color Labs. Signed into the building with our own Polaroid ID work cards. And proceeded to put our leaflet neatly up on every bulletin board on the back of restroom stalls and where the corporate people parked and we signed out and left the building. On Monday, when we reported to work to our respective places, the Polaroid police and the Cambridge police were looking for us.
They let us go to work while they try to figure out what to do. And when we arrived at our job sites, our co-workers were very angry at us, Polaroid couldn't be in South Africa. It's a liberal corporation. It has good policies.
So we asked our unbelieve co-workers to call human relations to see if we were telling the truth. And when the phones were taken off the hook and no one got a response, their anger shifted away from us. That evening, our little group gathered and we decided we would have a rally to let the rest of the workers know what was going on. We went back to the Oval Office to look for a South African speaker and they found Chris Untether for us, a young black South African divinity student who had just arrived to be educated in Cambridge with his young family.
On the day of the rally, we had planned to have it outdoors in the open green. We found out, Ken found out. That the cab drivers have been replaced by FBI agents and police officers and there were snipers on the roof. So we moved our rally under the trees can spoke about the laws and history of South Africa. And then Chris Untether spoke here with our young black South African to say from his own person, I had my passport photo taken by a Polaroid.
He talked about the lives and details of blacks under South Africa's repressive regime. And he talked about the role of Polaroid in corporations in supporting South Africa. We had prepared three demands. We wrote them on Polaroid stationery as an internal memo and called ourselves the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement, those demands said that Polaroid should withdraw immediately from South Africa. That they should denounce apartheid in the US and in South Africa and that they should turn over their profits to recognize liberation movements.
Our rally drew a lot of attention and it made news. Following the rally, we had a contentious meeting with Polaroid executives where we presented our three demands amid their denials. The following day, Ken was fired. But he was vigilant and vowed to continue by any means. I continue to work leafletting before and after work. With many speaking engagements around the area building a coalition of students, civil rights organizations, church groups, work and labor groups to continue the fight to get Polaroid out of South Africa.
When they decided they would not, we called for an international boycott and that coalition, local coalition grew nationally and internationally. In 1971, in February, months after our beginning, we testified before the United Nations Special Committee on Apartheid. Shortly after that, I was fired for misconduct detrimental to the best interests of a corporation. Organizing a boycott, and although I had many regrets about losing my first professional job. It gave me 24/7 to work on the boycott.
For seven years. Despite many trials and tribulations. The boycott campaign led by the Polaroid Revolutionary Workers Movement, continued. And in 1977, Polaroid withdrew from South Africa. It was the beginning of the end of apartheid. And the beginning of many US corporations leaving South Africa, but the first to leave due to international public pressure and a boycott.
The real moment of triumph came many years later in 1990 when in a broadcast studio on Channel seven TV in Boston, I sat making commentary with my husband, Ken Williams, and the Reverend Chris Untether as we watched Nelson Mandela walk out of jail. It was the culmination. Of a story. The end and the beginning of a chapter of a book. And a connection to the heartfelt messages and lessons from Mr. Valda, and it really was about that book.
That was Caroline Hunter. Caroline was born and raised in New Orleans since her antiapartheid work began. She's received numerous awards for her long standing commitment to the fight. Now, Caroline lives on Martha's Vineyard and leads the polar bears, the historic African-American swim in water aerobics club. I think a lot about the stereotype of the angry black woman and the way it's used to dismiss and shame black women who challenge societal inequalities.
This week, stories remind me of my favorite speech by Audrey Lorde about the use of black women's anger. She says, When we turn from anger, we turned from insight, saying we will accept only the designs already known deadly and safely familiar. I love the way in and Caroline don't shy away from their anger, but instead use it as fuel to make their lives and the lives of others better. I've seen a lot of people choosing to use their anger for positive change these last few months.
I marched, chanted and even meditated alongside some of them in my favorite weekly protest, meditating for Black Lives.
I love those quiet moments where we check in with ourselves and sit with our heavier, more difficult feelings. As protests continue, I hope we stand firm in our anger. It means there's something worth fighting for. If you're inspired to think more deeply about our stories this week, here are a few questions to get you started. What is your relationship to anger like? When was the time you stood up for yourself or others? You can also find these prompts in the extras for this episode on our website, The Monga Extras.
And remember, you can always pitch is a story of your own right on our website. That's all for this week. Until next time from all of us here at The Moth, have a story.
Where the week. Quinn McNeal is the moth's digital media assistant when she's not making graphics for The Moth. She likes to spend her time in her local ceramic studio making plates, bowls and platters. Very extravagant, well attended. Dinner Party of Her Dreams podcast production by Julia Purcell.
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