black feminism

i’ve had many conversations with proponents and opponents of black feminism and recently jumped in a facebook thread on the very subject. the thread was a response to lamara perry’s article on uhuru news where she critiques black feminism as “white burgeoisie feminism in a black face.” admittedly, i went ham in my response:

kudos to the sister for her thoughts, but i must disagree. in the same way that she’s suspicious of black feminism for being what she describes as the progeny of white feminism, i am suspicious of her analysis as it reeks of being male-defined. in fact, i’m quite familiar with the line she presents, as it’s popular within male-dominated silos.

before reaching her position’s merits, i would argue against several of her points on a factual basis: 1.) upon whose/which definition of black feminism is she basing her analysis? the idea that black feminism does not have room for a critique of capitalism and imperialism is disturbingly simplistic. even if we aren’t aware of black feminist texts that position imperialism and capitalism as the cornerstones of their analysis, it’s not hard to imagine that one could in fact exist. these are not mutually exclusive concepts. 2.) i have an allergic reaction to conversations that include “in africa…” as if we are not speaking of a continent with a vast array of peoples, cultures, customs, and languages. gender as defined in a western sense may not have existed prior to european colonization; however, this fact does not eradicate the probable existence of sexism. our desire to romanticize the continent is getting us no where.

addressing the sista’s position on its merits: warning a real moment is starting in 5, 4, 3, 2…i believe the african internationalist line, as presented by the sista, that gender oppression is a manifestation of capitalism and imperialism, emerges from a fear of ostracizing black men. this isn’t wholly negative, as any successful liberation struggle must have roles for both sexes as well as family units–however, to what end? now EVERY contradiction in our community is the result of imperialism??? even if i was to buy that argument, this is my life, and imperialism is too intellectual a concept to apply when struggling in troubled relationships with brothas. think about it. when was the last time you said “oh that’s just imperialism that’s making him act like that…” or “girl he trippin on that imperialism shit–that’s why he beat my ass.”

as revolutionary women, we often grapple with a schizophrenia that develops from our awareness of racial, political, and economic oppression driven by capitalism and white supremacy, while at the same time recognizing the reality of gender oppression. as a result of our conditioning, we look either to white feminism or patriarchal institutions to do the work we should be doing for ourselves. i don’t mean to sound disparaging because i understand why we regurgitate out-dated views, but we must begin to recognize our power and define our own existence. we can altogether reject the term feminism since it seems to be the source of unnecessary dissension. the term is inconsequential; what matter’s most is our relationship with ourselves, each other, our families, communities, and people.

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