Explorations in Black Leadership

Co-Directed by Phyllis Leffler & Julian Bond

Gender and Fear

GIOVANNI: But we had obligations. And so you had to find a way, "How am I contributing?" is what I'm saying. You contribute by the work, but you also have to kind of put yourself out there because I'm a girl. And so I always figured, "Well, yeah, they might shoot [H.] Rap [Brown]. They might shoot, you know, Stokely [Carmichael]. They might beat you up. They beat John up. Nobody's going to bother me." So I felt like my job, then, was to say the things that other people couldn't say because it got them shot. Some people used to say to me, "Are you afraid you're going to get shot?" I said, "No, I'm not afraid I'm going to get shot." I was so sure nobody's going to shoot me and they didn't so far.

BOND: Why do you think they wouldn't shoot girls?

GIOVANNI: I don't know.

BOND: Because they had done.

GIOVANNI: Yeah, sure they did.

BOND: Having talked a little while ago about the large number of women lynched.

GIOVANNI: Yeah. But I just never saw myself in any -- hell, I travel now. Everybody says, "Arabs are mad at me." They're not mad at me. They're mad at America, and well, they should be. So if I get hurt on an airplane, or if I get blown up in London, or I'm doing a research project that's taking me around the world sometimes -- I mean it's not going to happen to me because nobody's mad at me. People like me. It's going to happen to the American.

BOND: The American you?

GIOVANNI: Sure. And there's nothing I can do about that. I can pick a t-shirt, say "I hate him, too," but that would be chicken, wouldn't it? I can't go around the world saying, "I'm against George Bush." I have to go around the world as what I am. I'm a black American. So if something happens to me it's not the black. It's going to be the American. And that's only fair. I just wanted that known, you know, I say that to anybody. I'm not going to be afraid of my life.