I know that’s a mouth full and sounds like a bunch of fancy words but they all are equally important and I intend to delve into each of these topics throughout the course of this semester. Black women have a struggle that is unique and different from any other minority group.
*disclaimer: “Intersectionality”, a term coined by Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, will come up very often on this blog!!! Simply put, intersectionality is “a description of the way multiple oppressions are experienced”
cont: We carry not only the weight of being black, but that of being a woman also. We push back against stereotypes and assumptions, and fight for opportunity and to be heard on a daily basis.
“One issue at a time” they say. Historically, black women have chosen the issue of race over gender, with sentiments that “we are black first”. Black women were the back bones of the Civil Rights Movement and continue to be the front runners in the “Black Lives Matter” movement today.
When attempting to address the issues of their rights as black women and join the feminist movement, black women were silenced for fear that the “black agenda” and the topic of emancipation would overshadow women’s suffrage. Sojourner Truth’s famous “Ain’t I a Woman?” speech she delivered at the Women’s Convention in 1851 very graphically depicted the difference between the struggles of black women and white women. While white women were viewed as fragile, overemotional beings incapable of solid decision making, black women were viewed as mules and subjected racist exploitation. We have come to the conclusion that fighting sexism in an inherently racist society is a beast of it own that the term “feminism” doesn’t even begin to cover. This brings us to the term “womanism” coined by Alice Walker in 1983. Womanism is “a feminist ideology that addresses the black woman’s unique history of racial and gender oppression” (another term you’ll be seeing very often on this blog).
“Not only has society tried to smother black women but we’ve also been smothered by the very black men who claim to defend our honor”
-Gabrielle Union in Being Mary Jane
While all of this is/was happening, the black men that we put our lives on the line for consistently conformed to anti black, patriarchal values. The dynamic between black men and black women is an interesting one. Just go on your Twitter feed and you can see clear as day, that while black women continue to rally in support of black men, they are constantly criticized, ridiculed and demeaned by black men. This is a direct representation of the anti blackness that festers in the black community due to the racist, anti black ideals we have been subjected to since slavery.
I didn’t want to hit ya with too much information this time. Consider this a warm up to get your brain muscles working. There’s a ton of history to consider when discussing black women and their struggles but trust me, it’ll be interesting.
See ya next time! -Cherrelle Leah