I’m a Black feminist. A womanist. A hip-hop feminist. A crunk feminist. An intersectional feminist. A Caribbean feminist. A diasporic feminist. A disabled feminist. A justice feminist. A Feminist.
These are all of the phrases I grappled with as I sought to higher perceive my very own relationship to feminism. These subsequent phrases all served as not solely a theoretical praxis however a political intervention within the social, cultural, and political exclusion of Black girls, femmes, and gender expansive individuals throughout the feminist motion. To me, feminism would by no means function a liberatory framework as long as it didn’t middle my liberation and the liberation of essentially the most marginalized. Feminism was for white girls.
As an alternative, I appeared to the Black radical custom for steering. I opted for intersectionality, womanism and Black feminist frameworks from our feminist forebearers like Kimberlé Crenshaw, Audre Lorde, Brittney Cooper, Joan Morgan, and extra. I used to be impressed by the likes of highly effective Black girls all through historical past, from Harriet Tubman and Nanny of the Maroons to Angela Davis. I admired the Black girls making historical past now, together with Tarana Burke, Alicia Garza, Raquel Willis, Bree Newsome, and extra. All of whom, in some ways, embody feminism as an intersectional liberatory framework.
I, like so most of the girls I each celebrated and admired, stay within the intersections. I’m a Black lady, dwelling with an invisible sickness right here in the USA. Raised a Rasta and born from throughout the Afro-Caribbean diaspora. To me, feminism would by no means be adequate. However as I started interrogating my relationship to feminism as a Black lady, I’ve made area in my private evolution to reclaim what it means to be a feminist. I embrace intersectional feminism as a part of a feminist praxis. One which has been outlined and refined by Black girls, particularly queer Black girls.
I’ve had the immense privilege of interviewing, talking with, and communing with a few of the exact same girls I’ve been impressed by as a part of my work as co-founder of FEMINIST alongside my comrades on this work, Blair Imani and Ky Polanco. In nearly each interview, we pose a model of the query: What does being a feminist imply to you? A central reflection you’ll see all through the pages of this Zine.
Surprisingly and but, not surprisingly, nearly each influential Black lady I’ve spoken to has both resisted feminist terminology, made some extent so as to add a descriptor earlier than claiming themselves a feminist, or expressed an analogous evolution of their understanding round Feminism.
I spoke with activist, organizer and cofounder of SisterSong, Loretta Ross, who coined “Reproductive Justice”—a time period we’ve since embraced as a feminist rallying cry. After I requested her what it means to be a feminist, she mentioned, “I assumed feminism was a white girls’s factor. And so I had been a training feminist earlier than I’d use the ’f-word’ for like a decade. As a result of I used to be within the early anti-rape motion however I used to say, “I’m not a feminist, however…”. That at all times preceded me denouncing feminism.”
In talking with the activist, organizer, creator, and founder of the #MeToo movement Tarana Burke, she shared an analogous sentiment, saying, “I keep in mind there was a time of my life once I didn’t determine as feminist. It’s at all times humorous once I take into consideration that point interval and the way a lot I’ve discovered between then and now. However feminism is simply what I do, and who I’m, and that’s to not the exclusion of anyone, and I feel individuals don’t perceive that about feminism on the whole.”
To know that these Black girls, these feminist icons whose work feminists all over the place have appeared to, additionally struggled with their relationship to claiming themselves as Feminist speaks to the continued exclusion of Black girls inside feminist actions. And but resistance, significantly Black resistance, is on the basis of my expertise with feminism. Black girls and gender expansive individuals have charted the trail for feminism. They’ve refused patriarchal violence, racial violence, and gender-based violence. They’ve stood on the frontlines of virtually each motion, coined the phrases and language widespread tradition has since tailored, and have continued to deepen our personal mental understandings of feminism.
To be a feminist is to be entrenched within the work of Black feminists. And so, feminism shouldn’t be feminism with out Black girls and gender expansive individuals. Feminism shouldn’t be feminism with out Black queer individuals. Feminism shouldn’t be feminism with out essentially the most marginalized. Feminism shouldn’t be feminism with out us all.
We should proceed to reclaim feminism it doesn’t matter what precursor, descriptor, or model of it we select to proclaim as long as it facilities essentially the most marginalized as a result of as Burke mentioned, “Feminism is simply what I do, and who I’m, and that’s to not the exclusion of anyone.” Our collective liberation requires it. It requires us to be transnational, to be intersectional, to collectively combat for our liberation. To hear. To share our tales. And to defend us.
Excerpted from Situation 01 of the FEMINIST Zine, initially printed December 2022. Reprinted with permission from FEMINIST, @feminist on Instagram and TikTok. Copyright (c) 2022 by Aisha Becker-Burrowes.
Leave a Reply