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Final Web Event: When, Where, and How We Enter

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“I have thought that a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“ other words, the position of woman in society determines the vital elements of its regeneration and progress...And this is not because woman is better or stronger or wiser than man, but from the nature of the case, because it is she who must first form the man by directing the earliest impulses of his character.” -- Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South (1892) 

I begin with these two quotes about the importance of a society’s women to highlight the current condition of America as a result of how it has critically fallen short of protecting and caring for all of its women.  America fails to protect its women from an unhealthy rape culture, incarcerates women more than any other country, and fails to protect the country’s mothers by being the country with the highest infant mortality rate in the world. By failing to protect the country’s women and mothers, it fails to protect the country’s children and therefore the country’s future. In the midst of these downfalls, which only represent a few of the ways America fails women, historically, only a select group of women are considered valuable, and women of color, specifically black women, are left marginalized and fending for themselves -- and these are the women who make up a disproportionate amount of those affected by the failures aforementioned. 

Now, up to this point, I feel that I have been very vocal and expressive of the shortcomings of feminism. I have been clear about feminism’s unfortunate history of discrimination and exclusivity, and the feminists’ power play over women and men of color. My previous web events have been mostly critical of feminism, and hardly constructive of how feminism could better fit its women.  However, the challenge I was confronted with was to do just that, write what black feminist philosophy would look like to me. So, here goes nothing (and everything). 

In trying to situate the framework for this piece, I imagine that a few key elements would need to be assessed in terms of the authenticity and accuracy of black feminist theory. First, would it have to be written by a black woman? To this question I say yes, because everything that has been or could be written about black women that comes from someone else falls into the same trap that has claimed feminism, and would fail to encompass this unique intersection of gender and race that only we can give a voice to. Others have already spoken on the behalf of black women in America, and have deduced their humanity and womanhood to fit a fixed set of negative stereotypes about them, silencing them in the process. No longer should our own voices be omitted from having value in society and for this reason only we should speak for and about us.

So, what qualifies me to be the writer of such a text? Well, The lens I hold to analyzing this critical issue is that of a millennial age black woman, with knowledge based on my personal experiences from having been born and raised in a predominately black neighborhood and my acquaintance with academic texts [or a lack thereof] published on the topic. As an avid social networker, I am able to use a plethora of sharing sites to receive additional insight into the minds of black Americans, with social media being as a direct medium through which we express our thoughts, ideas, and beliefs in this age of technology. It is with these unique personal experiences and resources into the experiences of others that I use to ground my first attempt at black feminist writing. 

*Note* As you read this piece, it is important to keep in mind that yes, we are women, but we are black women, and this key intersection should be upheld and honored at all times. In our quest for freedom, the system we are going against also has multiple layers: sexism through the patriarchy, and racism through white supremacy; a key intersection that also must be kept in mind at all times.

So... what is the platform for black feminism? 

A large part of the black feminism platform has to dismantle the perniciousness of our own culture, which I believe to be a worthy starting point of this movement. Black culture has, unfortunately, internalized the worst stereotypes about itself and continue to act with agency on the grounds of these oppressive ideologies. Sexism plagues the minds of both black men and women, and the only thing that can reverse this socialization would be to raise the level of consciousness present in black communities. Either through formal education or community outreach based education, it would be an important role of black feminists to educate the community to recognize and identify patriarchal values and norms that we have been socialized to accept and enact, and from there we can move to stifle and dismantle the patriarchal binds that plague our minds. 

Through this, black feminists also should work to encourage self-respect and mutual respect on all accounts; encourage black women to respect themselves, encourage black men to respect themselves, and for both groups to respect each other. We should also and most importantly work to encourage love: self-love and mutual love. We should teach love for the welfare mother for her amazing accomplishment of raising a family solely on her own ability. We should teach love for the educated instead of labeling them as trying to be ‘white’. We should love ourselves and cast aside the negative stereotypes that mentally enslave us. We should teach love for the sheer fact that we are all surviving with the odds stacked against us, love for our brothers and sisters in the struggle. 

Upon further consideration, it turns out that mainstream American feminism fit right into the grand scheme of white supremacy by furthering the brokenness of black communities. By encouraging black women to uplift themselves, therefore leaving the men behind, white supremacists saw to it  that black men become completely disadvantaged and therefore no longer a threat. In this sense, mainstream feminism unintentionally became a player in the game of layering and deepening the effectiveness of white supremacy. This leads me to include another facet of the black feminist platform that should be characterized by inclusiveness. Because of the unique way of which we are oppressed, because of both our sex and our color, in the uplift of black feminism we cannot separate the two, and as a condition of that black feminists have to also care about uplifting black men. Black feminists have to agitate and advocate for the bettering of the black male condition, as an extension of its liberation platform. This is because black women cannot liberate themselves from their oppression without the help of black men. We can do everything to free ourselves from immediate sexist oppression within our own communities, but as far as liberating ourselves from sexist oppression in the whole of society, racism and white supremacy will still present a major barrier between us and our freedom.

White supremacy was enacted and perpetuated on the grounds of a patriarchal framework, which is why European colonizers believed it to be the most effective way of conquering entire peoples by the emasculation of the men, and an attack on their women to solidify their control. However, that is the patriarchy, and I am a black feminist. I imagine the last group that would be looked to for justice, liberation and equality would be black women, which is why we are in the prime position to begin to take our stance. The patriarchy does not see us as a threat, and we are therefore uniquely positioned to make such changes and turn this system upside down. And so again and in conclusion, I end with these quotes:

“I have thought that a sufficient measure of civilization is the influence of good women.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

“ other words, the position of woman in society determines the vital elements of its regeneration and progress...And this is not because woman is better or stronger or wiser than man, but from the nature of the case, because it is she who must first form the man by directing the earliest impulses of his character.” -- Anna Julia Cooper, A Voice from the South (1892)

I believe that black women, representing both the writer and the desired audience of this piece, are perfect for the role I would like to delegate them as black feminists and black liberators. Since our arrival on this land, we have carried our people along by being the backbones of black communities and families even in the midst of the horrible war enacted on our bodies, minds, and souls. The very fact that there are still black bodies on this white land is a testament to the strength, perseverance and awesomeness that is the African American Woman. If we are capable of carrying our people along through the tragic history of what it means to be black in America, we are capable of redirecting that strength and power to carrying our people up and out toward freedom. Black feminism is black liberation, and black feminists will be our leaders.


This piece mainly concerns itself with the thoughts and mindset that could prepare for the actual tasks of black feminists. I did not intend to come out of the gate with an agenda for black feminism, but rather I intended to identify the ideology for black women to rile behind in able to carry out their actual game-plan. This solitary, unified mindset that I am trying to layout the framework for will act as the solid ground needed to support the intentions of black feminists. In order to fight for our rights as black women, both our men and women have to be on the same level mentally in order for the black feminism movement to have any traction and longevity. I do not have the answers, but I at least feel that I have a sense of the question and the formula to use toward finding those answers.