“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender” -Alice Walker
What’s scary about the word Feminism is that at some point it’s not directed to empower women of color. Just the word Feminism ignores race, which can and will cause discrimination. From the very beginning of women fighting for the right to vote, Black women were not included. When a slave master raped an African slave woman, the head mistress didn’t view the slave woman’s body as being violated, and did not recognize her pain as a human- let alone a woman. The head mistress despised the slave woman for getting her husband’s affections. Twisted, right?? In 1913, Alice Paul put together a march in which she did not want African American women to be a part of because she would lose the support of the women of the south (allegedly).
Even though we are all women, our struggle is different. Black Feminism argues that “sexism, class oppression, and racism are inextricably bound together. The way these relate to each other is called intersectionality.” Technically, the liberation of Black women would be the ultimate freedom for all people since it tackles racism, sexism, and class oppression.
It seems as if the struggles of Black women often go unnoticed, or better yet- ignored. While Feminists are fighting for equal pay, Black Feminists are fighting to make the same pay as their White counterparts. Alice Walker coined the term Womanist opposed to feminist. She believed it was more fitting for Black Women, and it was a way to speak about gender issues without attacking Black men. I have come across many comments from men, posts, blogs, etc. that consider themselves Afro-Centric, however they do not accept Black Feminism.
I recently had an African American man tell me that “Feminism is not my struggle,” and that “You should be focused on Civil Rights and Human Rights.” My first thought immediately took me to Sojourner Truth’s “Aint I a woman?” I was more concerned with how he could tell me what my struggle is and what I should be focused on. We as Black Feminists (Womanists) need the same public and private support that we consistently show our Black men.
Black Feminism is not a trade off for acceptance. It’s a right, it’s a movement, it’s a mind set, and it’s a lifestyle! You cannot consider yourself Afro-Centric if you don’t believe that your sister, wife, or daughter (Queens) has the right to be in control of themselves. How can you consider yourself Afro-Centric if you don’t believe that Black women deserve to be treated as your equal and not as an object to be controlled? In my mind, when I hear or read these things, it makes me think of the European views of women that have been pressed upon us as order or just the way things are “supposed to be.” Your Queen can still love and respect you all while being a Black Feminist. It’s not an exchange. It’s more of balance and understanding.
Black women deserve to be recognized for their intelligence, dignity, pride, self-respect, hard work, and power. We do not deserve to be degraded, displaced, discriminated against, and/or punished by lack of opportunity or willingness to help because some of us come from less fortunate backgrounds.
When Feminists can relate and acknowledge the ongoing struggle of Black Feminists (Womanists), maybe then I won’t be so nervous about Feminism.
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This article was originally posted on March 8th, 2015 at http://www.LetsTalkRaeStyle.com