I have not always been an intersectional feminist. When I first came to feminism it was through the work of radical feminists such as Andrea Dworkin and Germaine Greer. And though their anger spoke to me, their messages did not.
Where was the representation of my life as a black, mixed race lesbian? Where was I to find solace and solidarity and an understanding of my existence and the oppressions unique to my position at the intersection of woman, lesbian and black?
We all know what intersectionality means, but only those of us who have known the fear of slipping through the cracks can properly articulate the relief that this theory holds. When I was younger and coming to terms with my sexuality I was convinced that I could not be gay. I thought that lesbianism was a white woman’s game. I did not know of any famous black lesbians, Audre had not yet become my Lorde.
What does it mean to me; a permanently angry dyke, when mainstream feminism fights for the right to be ‘sexy’ and unthreatening to men and urges us to quell our anger? If we soothe men with one hand and fix our hair with the other, which fist is left to smash the system that chokes us?
White women, rich, straight, cis women (the vagenda, jezebel, Lena Dunham) control feminist discourse and the public opinion and they can dismiss women of colours righteous fury at the double bind we face under white supremacist patriarchy. Time and time again we see white feminists such as Caitlin Moran and Julie Burchill enact their brand of selfish individualistic feminism upon us. We see them proclaim that they literally don’t give a shit about their sisters of colour. Or see them throw their trans sisters under the bus and denounce them as lesser. Flavia Dzodan at redlightpolitics wrote an entire article recently about the numerous high profile white feminists who have rubbished intersectionality, swathing their discomfort with something not wholly made for them in accusations of complexity and alienation. All in one simple concept about the actuality of our multi faceted lives. We cannot stand for this.
To be feminist is to be aware of our interconnected struggle as women, but to also see that not every struggle is our own. Use your voice as a privileged white woman to shout down racism wherever you see it. And be thankful that you will never know the sickening lurch that sways through your blood when your humanity is denounced and denied because of your race by women who profess to care about all women’s liberation.
I recently made a Facebook status explaining how sick and tired I am of telling white people to stop wearing bindis and fashioning their hair into the hot mess that they have the audacity to call dread locs. White women who have sat by my side in feminist meetings, who I was once proud to call my sisters, rushed to shout me down and accuse me of hatemongering and racism and it then dissolved into personal attacks on me. The thing that really struck me was their repeated affirmations that they CARED DEEPLY about tackling racism and wanted to WORK TOGETHER to end it. Well to them I say listen the hell up when a woman of colour calls you out! I was literally giving them an easy way to chip a little bit of racism away from the world but their cognitive dissonance is so strong that they can say WE WILL FIGHT RACISM with one side of their mind whilst PERPETUATING IT with the other.
Stop paying superficial lip service to Intersectionality white feminists. It is insulting and strips the power from one of the most important concepts in the politics of gender liberation. If you cannot take a stand against racism you have no business calling yourself intersectional for feminist brownie points. I cannot listen to a white feminist who coos about her love of bell hooks but dismisses the words of a woman of colour she knows on the subject of racism.When will white feminists take collective responsibility for educating themselves? When will they understand the power at play that sings in their skins? We do not exist in a vacuum and women of colour do not exist to hold their hands and explain in painful detail why their behaviour continues to hurt us.
That is not to say that Intersectional feminist politics are for white women to co-opt as their own. It is explicitly a theory that was formed from the mind of a black woman- Kimberlé Crenshaw, to explain black women’s situations- as they were ignored by the white centric feminist movement and simultaneously by the male centric civil rights movement. I cannot speak for every black woman, and I would never profess to. We are not a monolith. But I stand wary of a white woman who calls herself intersectional. You won’t listen to us and you will exclude us from your movement but you will take the ideas you like the look of? It is far more impressive and sisterly to me to SEE white women ACTING in an intersectional way. To reach the point where they are critical of the feminist action they take and the feminist media they consume and when they COLLECT their white sisters instead of letting women of colour do it time and time again at the expense of our mental and physical health.
For women of colour intersectional thinking is a reflex to us once we become aware. We cannot stop scouring the crowd for brown faces and we cannot stop thinking about the implications of the word slut on our already tainted brown bodies and we cannot stop thinking about how we didn’t know we could be beautiful until we found messages away from the mainstream. White women must stand beside, not in FRONT of us and force themselves to think about who exactly their feminism is fighting for.
And we deserve to experience love fully, equally, without shame and without compromise. (x)
I have to make a presentation for my Natural Sciences class tomorrow. Naturally, as I am going to an HBCU and tomorrow is the first day of black history month, we had to choose black scientists.
I chose Mae Jemison, because she’s an absolute badass.
This is my presentation.
(Except the ‘babe’ slide, I just wanted to let it be known on Tumblr that Mae Jemison is hot.)
Hopefully it doesn’t get me in trouble.
Janet Mock returns to Piers Morgan Live. (x)
My people are everything. Thank you for supporting me tonight. I exist among giants. I love you all.
TW: Discussions of Transmisogyny, Racism and The Trans-Atlantic Genocide
I look up to laverne cox so hard
I always love re-blogging Laverne Cox. Not only because of her eloquence, intelligence, kindness, and beauty, but also because her voice might be one of the most important in the fight against hatred in the U.S.A. today. What she has to say is crucial to the growth, peace, prosperity, and freedom of all of us. If you have the time, please watch this video.
everyone needs to take seven minutes and watch this.
This is really important. Watch it.
Laverne Cox being excellent as always…
but. I wanna take issue with that comment above.
"What she has to say is crucial to the growth, peace, prosperity, and freedom of all of us"
from what i can tell about the person who wrote this, she is white.
which means this statement is a problem.
while it is true if a vague, abstract way that what Cox is saying in this video will impact the freedom of all people (by virtue that helping the least advantaged is a net benefit to the whole of humanity).
listen to the story she tells. listen to the historical connections she makes. the sociological connections.
if your interpretation of what this video is about and what it does doesn’t fundamentally centre who Cox is actually talking about (Black trans women first and twoc in general second), you’ve really really missed the point.
bringing up the connection to the street harassment she (and other Black trans women experience from Black people) to the Atlantic Slave Trade… unless this is you, this isn’t about you.
discussing the high rates of violence for trans women of colour and noting how childhood bullying often targets gender
erasing the specificity of what she is talking about, the specific intersections of identity and agency and the people who exist at this place in order to make a point about how she matters for ~humanity~
is another example of how anti-Blackness operates to make the ideas of Black thinkers common property
it is replicating the same structural and intellectual exploitation that non-Black people have been doing with important and visionary thinkers like Laverne Cox
we (non-Black ppl) need to be more careful about how we engage ridiculously awesome people like Cox.
African American flappers and Jazz Age women
HOLY SHIT I HAVE NEVER SEEN BLACK FLAPPERS BEFORE!
There were many fabulous African American flappers. No wonder - it was African American musicians who put the Jazz in “The Jazz Age”! The Charleston dance iteself, which so epitomizes the era, made its debut in the all-Black musical “Runnin’ Wild”, and no one danced that flapper number better than Josephine Baker…save possibly for fellow Black artist Florence Mills, who claimed credit for inventing it (she said she debuted it in her “Plantation Revue” in the early 20s, developing it from a dance popular among slaves). The Charleston song was written by Black composer James P Johnson. Without women and girls like those above, the 1920s would never have roared.
I think it’s so easy to forget that we, WOC, were there in history too.
The flapper movement was originally started by WOC, and that was part of the reason why it was so scandalous for white women to be flappers at first—because they were dressing and acting line WOC. But of course you’ll never see that in a high school textbook.