- Black feminism
Black feminism argues that
sexism, class oppression, and racismare inextricably bound together. [cite web|url=http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/modern/Defining-Black-Feminist-Thought.html|title=Defining Black Feminist Thought|accessmonthday=May 31|accessyear=2007] Forms of feminism that strive to overcome sexism and class oppression but ignore race can discriminate against many people, including women, through racial bias. The Combahee River Collectiveargued in 1974 that the liberation of black women entails freedom for all people, since it would require the end of racism, sexism, and class oppression. [cite web|url=http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/modern/Black-Feminist-Statement.html|title=Combahee River Collective: A Black Feminist Statement - 1974|accessmonthday=May 31|accessyear=2007] One of the theories that evolved out of this movement was Alice Walker's Womanism.
Alice Walker and other Womanists pointed out that black women experienced a different and more intense kind of oppression from that of white women. They point to the emergence Black feminism after earlier movements led by white middle-class women which they regard as having largely ignored oppression based on race and class. Walker, Alice, "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens" (Phoenix, 2005), ISBN 9780753819609]
Patricia Hill-Collinsdefined Black feminism, in "Black Feminist Thought" (1991), as including "women who theorize the experiences and ideas shared by ordinary black women that provide a unique angle of vision on self, community, and society". [ Quoted in Henrice Altink, [http://www.thirdspace.ca/vol5/5_2_Altink.htm “The misfortune of being black and female”: Black feminist thought in interwar Jamaica] , "Third Space", volume five issue two, January 2006 ... issn 1499-8513 ]
Black feminists contend that the liberation of black women entails freedom for all people, since it would require the end of racism, sexism, and class oppression. [ [http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/modern/Black-Feminist-Statement.html A Black Feminist Statement - 1974] , retrieved on May 31st 2007.] There is a long-standing and important alliance between
postcolonial feminists, which overlaps with transnational feminismand third-world feminism, and black feminists. Both have struggled for recognition, not only from men in their own culture, but also from Western feminists. [Weedon, C: " [http://www.genderforum.uni-koeln.de/genderealisations/weedon.html Key Issues in Postcolonial Feminism: A Western Perspective] ", 2002]
Development of Recent Black Feminism
Recent Black Feminism is a political/social movement that grew out of Black women's feelings of discontent with both the Civil Rights Movement and the Feminist Movement of the 1960s and 1970s.One of the foundation texts of Black Feminism is "An Argument for Black Women’s Liberation as a Revolutionary Force", authored by
Mary Ann Weathersand published in 1969 in Cell 16's radical feministmagazine "No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation". [Weathers, Mary Ann. "An Argument For Black Women's Liberation As a Revolutionary Force", "No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation', Cambridge, Mass, by "Cell 16" vol. 1, no. 2 (Feb 1969)] Weathers states her belief that "Women's Liberation should be considered as a strategy for an eventual tie-up with the entire revolutionary movement consisting of women, men, and children," but she posits that "(w)e women must start this thing rolling" [Weathers, Mary Ann. "An Argument For Black Women's Liberation As a Revolutionary Force", "No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation', Cambridge, Mass, by "Cell 16" vol. 1, no. 2 (Feb 1969)] becausecquote|All women suffer oppression, even white women, particularly poor white women, and especially Indian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Oriental and Black American women whose oppression is tripled by any of the above-mentioned. But we do have female's oppression in common. This means that we can begin to talk to other women with this common factor and start building links with them and thereby build and transform the revolutionary force we are now beginning to amass. [Weathers, Mary Ann. "An Argument For Black Women's Liberation As a Revolutionary Force ""No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation', Cambridge, Mass, by "Cell 16" vol. 1, no. 2 (Feb 1969)The following year, in 1970, the Third World Women’s Alliancepublished the [http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/wlm/blkmanif/ "Black Women’s Manifesto"] , which argued for a specificity of oppression against Black women. Co-signed by Gayle Linch, Eleanor Holmes Norton, Maxine Williams, Frances M Bealeand Linda La Rue, the manifesto, opposing both racismand capitalism, stated that:
Other Black feminists active in early
Second Wave Feminismwere Civil Rights Lawyer and author Florynce Kennedy, who co-authored one of the first books on abortion, 1971s "Abortion Rap", Cellestine Ware, of New York's Stanton-Anthony Brigade, and Patricia Robinson who all "tried to show the connections between racism and male dominance" in society. [Echols, Alice. "Daring to Be Bad: Radical Feminism in America 1967-1975", University of Minnesota Press, 1990, ISBN 0816617872, p291,p383]
Not only did the Civil Rights Movement primarily focus only on the oppression of black men, but many black women faced severe sexism within Civil Rights groups such as the
Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. The Feminist Movement focused on the problems faced by white women. For instance, earning the power to work outside of the home was not an accomplishment for black feminists; they had been working all along. Neither movement confronted the issues that concerned black women specifically. Because of their intersectional position, black women were being systematically ignored by both movements: "All the Women are White, All the Blacks are Men but Some of Us are Brave", as titled a 1982 book by Gloria Hull, Patricia Bell Scottand Barbara Smith.
Black women began creating theory and developing a new movement which spoke to the combination of problems they were battling, including sexism, racism, and classism.
Angela Davis, for instance, showed that while Afro-American women were suffering from compulsory sterilizationprograms, white women were subjected to multiple unwilled pregnancies and had to clandestinely abort. [ Angela Davis, "Women, Race and Class" (1981) ISBN 0-394-71351-6 ]
National Black Feminist Organizationwas founded in 1973 in New York by Margaret Sloan-Hunterand others. Two years later, Barbara Smith, Beverly Smith, Cheryl L. Clarke, Gloria Akasha Hull, and other female activists tied to the civil rights movement, Black Nationalismor the Black Panther Partyestablished, as an off-shoot of the National Black Feminist Organization, the Combahee River Collective, a radical lesbian feminist group. Their founding text referred to important female figures of the abolitionistmovement, such as Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frances E. W. Harper, Ida B. Welles Barnettand Mary Church Terrell, president of the National Association of Colored Womenfounded in 1896. The Combahee River Collective opposed the practice of lesbian separatism, considering that, in practice, Separatists focused exclusively on sexist oppression and not on others oppression (race, class, etc.) [Smith, Barbara. Response to Adrienne Rich's "Notes from Magazine: What does Separatism Mean?" from Sinister Wisdom, Issue 20, 1982] This group's primary goal was "the development of integrated analysis and practice based upon the fact that the major systems of oppression are interlocking." They rejected all essentializationor biologization, focusing on political and economical analysis of various forms of domination. The Combahee River Collective, in particular on the impulse of Barbara Smith, would engage itself in various publications on Feminism, showing that the position of Black women was specific and adding a new perspective to Women's studies, mainly written by White women.
The Black Lesbian Caucus were created as an off-shoot of the
Gay Liberation Frontin 1971, and later took the name of the "Salsa Soul Sisters, Third World Wimmin Inc. Collective", which was the first "out" organization for lesbians, womanists and women of colorin New York[http://socialjustice.ccnmtl.columbia.edu/index.php/African_Ancestral_Lesbians_United_For_Social_Change ] . The Salsa Soul Sisters published a Literary Quarterly called "" in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The "Sisters" are now known as African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change, and is the oldest black lesbian organization in the United States. [Smith, Barbara . The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, ed. Wilma Pearl Mankiller, Houghton Mifflin 1998, ISBN 0618001824 p337] [Juan Jose Battle, Michael Bennett, Anthony J. Lemelle, Free at Last?: Black America in the Twenty-First Century, Transaction Publishers 2006 p55]
Recent Black Feminism
"All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies", (Editors Akasha (Gloria T.) Hull, Patricia Bell Scott and Barbara Smith) describes Black feminists mobilizing "a remarkable national response to the
Anita Hill- Clarence ThomasSenate Hearings in 1991, naming their effort "African American Women in Defense of Ourselves". [Hull, Smith, Scott. "All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, but Some of Us Are Brave: Black Women's Studies", pxvi] E. Frances White's expressed her belief that feminists need to revise the movement's relationship to the concept of "the family"; to acnowledge that, for Women of Color, "the family is not only a source of male dominance, but a source of resistance to racism as well." [White, E. Frances. "Listening to the Voices of Black Feminism", printed in "Radical America", quoted in Alice Echols, "Daring to be Bad: Radical Feminism in America", University of Minnesota Press, 1989, ISBN 0816617872, p239]
In her year 2000 introduction to the reissue of the 1983 Black feminist anthology,
Home Girls, theorist and author Barbara Smith states her opinion that "to this day most Black women are unwilling to jeopardize their 'racial credibility' (as defined by Black men) to address the realities of sexism." [Smith, Barbara. "Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology", Rutgers University Press, 2000, ISBN 0813527538, p xiv] Smith also notes that "even fewer are willing to bring up homophobiaand heterosexism, which are, of course, inextricably linked to gender oppression. [Smith, Barbara. "Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology", Rutgers University Press, 2000, ISBN 0813527538, p xiv]
Starting around 2000, the "third wave" of
Feminism in Francetook interest in the relations between sexism and racism, with a certain amount of studies dedicated to Black Feminism. This new focus was displayed by the translation, in 2007, of the first anthology of US Black feminism texts. [ Elsa Dorlin(ed.) "Black Feminism - Anthologie du féminisme africain-américain, 1975-2000". Paris, L’Harmattan, 2007. [http://terra.rezo.net/article699.html Introduction on-line] fr icon]
Black Feminist Literature
The Importance of Identity
Michelle Cliffbelieves that there is continuity "in the written work of many African American Women,... you can draw a line from the slave narrativeof Linda Brentto Elizabeth Keckley's life, to "Their Eyes were Watching God" (by Zora Neale Hurston) to "Coming of Age in Mississippi" ( Anne Moody) to Sula(by Toni Morrison), to the "Salt Eaters" (by Toni Cade Bambara) to "Praise Song for the Widow" (by Paule Marshall)." Cliff believes that all of these women, through their stories, "Work against the odds to claim the 'I'". [Cliff, Michelle. "Women Warriors: Black Women Writers lead the Canon", "Voice Literary Supplement", May 1990]
Activist and Cultural Critic
Angela Davis, was one of the first people to articulate a written argument centered on intersectionality, in "Women, Race, and Class." [ [http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/blackwomen.html List of Books written by Black Feminists] , retrieved on May 31st 2007.] Kimberle Crenshaw, prominent feminist law theorist, gave the idea a name while discussing Identity Politicsin her essay, "Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics and Violence Against Women of Color." Another Feminist theorist is Patricia Hill Collins, who introduced the sociological theory of Matrix of Domination; much of her work concerns the politics of black feminist thought and oppression.
The Autumn 1979 issue of "Conditions" was edited by
Barbara Smithand Lorraine Bethel. "Conditions 5" was "the first widely distributed collection of Black feminist writing in the U.S." [Smith, Barbara. Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press 1983 p1] Articles from the magazine were later released in " Home Girls", an anthology of Black lesbian and feminist writing published in 1983 by , a publisher owned and operated by Women of Color.
Examples of Black Feminist Literature
Alice Walker, a follower of Womanism, a movement tied to Black theology, is the author of "The Color Purple." Pat Parker's (1944-1989) involvement in the black feminist movement was reflected in her writings as a poet. Her work inspired other black feminist poets like Hattie Gossett. [ [http://www.feministezine.com/feminist/hattiegossett-biography.html Biography of Hattie Gossett] , retrieved on May 31st 2007.] Other Black feminist authors include: Jewelle Gomez, June Jordan, Sapphire, Becky Birtha, Donna Allegra, Cheryl Clarke, Ann Allen Shockley, Alexis De Veaux and many others.
African Ancestral Lesbians United for Societal Change
Third World feminism
* Third World Women's Alliance. "Black Women's Manifesto" (1970. [http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/wlm/blkmanif/ On-line] )
Patricia Hill Collins, "Black Feminist Thought: Knowledge, Consciousness and the Politics of Empowerment" (1990) and "" (Routledge, 2005)
Bell Hooks, "" (1981)
Molara Ogundipe-Leslie, "Re-Creating Ourselves: African Women & Critical Transformations" (1994)
*"" (, 1983; reed. 2000)
*"", edited by
Cherríe Moragaand Gloria E. Anzaldúa(Persephone Press, 1981; 2nd ed. 1984, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press; translated in Spanish in 2002 by Cherríe Moraga, Ana Castillo, and Norma Alarcon)
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