If you ask someone to define feminism, they will probably say ‘Feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights. Feminists aim to define the economic, social, and political equality of the sexes’. To an extent, this definition is true, but the truth is feminism means many things to many people. People have their definitions of feminism. I believe that mainstream feminism ignores intersectionality. Intersectional feminism recognises the role of other forms of discrimination, such as race, age, class, physical/mental ability, sexual identity, religion etc. This blog post will include: the aims and objectives of Black feminism, issues Black women face, and finally, how to support Black feminism.
Aims and objectives of Black Feminism
The ideology of Black Feminism is that ‘Black women are inherently valuable, that [Black women’s] liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else’s but because of our need as human persons for autonomy. Black feminists aim to highlight how issues like racism, sexism, and class discrimination can significantly negatively affect black women.
Issues Black Women Face
Black feminists argue that Black women are more disadvantaged than White women. While both groups experience sexism, Black women also experience racial discrimination which is something that White women do not face. Critics of Black feminism argue that the element of race in feminism causes division and conflict. I strongly disagree with this critique as every woman’s experience regardless of their background should be acknowledged. The critique ignores other forms of discrimination that women face, thus proving the point that mainstream feminism ignores the negative experiences of Black women. It’s not just mainstream feminism that ignores the experiences of Black women, movements such as The Black Panthers and the Civil Rights Movements ignores Black women’s experiences as well. This is not an attack on these impactful movements, but just a desire to highlight how the groups/movements do not recognise the interplay of both racism and sexism,.
Concerning employment, there is a triple barrier that Black women need to overcome; racism, sexism and class. Black women are concentrated in jobs that pay lower wages with limited mobility. Black women often find themselves stuck in the same position for years due to the glass ceiling. The glass ceiling makes it incredibly difficult for black women to get promoted.
Issues such as stereotypes of Black women are not discussed enough. If you ask a group of Black women whether they have been called aggressive, rude, or boisterous, 99% of them will say yes! The “Angry Black Woman” stereotype is seen in the media, social spaces, and interpersonal interactions. There are numerous examples of how Black women are presented as angry in the media. For example, ‘Rasputia’, an obese and overbearing woman in the 2001 Eddie Murphy comedy ‘Norbit’, and Bernadine, an angry and impulsive character in ‘Waiting to Exhale’, performed by actress Angela Bassett. However, Black feminists look at The Angry Black Woman stereotype from a different viewpoint. Some Black feminists argue that the Black woman’s anger is valid. It is valid because of the years of oppression they have faced.
Concerning healthcare, according to the UK Confidential Enquiry into Maternal Deaths, the chance of death is 1 in 2500 for Black women. Black women in the UK are much more likely to die from complications surrounding both childbirth and pregnancy then White women. This is incredibly concerning. Reports surrounding the mortality rate of Black women usually say it’s due to health complications experienced by Black women. However, the death of Black mothers is due to the lower standard of care received by Black women. Candice Brathwaite said there was racial bias around the time her daughter was born. Brathwaite stated she was treated differently to mothers in the same position as her who were of a different race. Additionally, there is a belief that Black women are more susceptible to pain. This is completely false. This is an idea that is covert in maternal care for Black mothers. Racial bias and stereotypes in maternity care needs to be addressed and eradicated to improve the lives of Black women.
How you can support Black Feminism/Women
- Follow Instagram Accounts – @blackfeministbookshop; @luublckfemsoc; @blackfeministrant; @theblackfeministintraining
- Read books – Black Feminist Thought by Patricia Hill Collins; Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde; Ain’t I a Woman by Bell Hooks; How We Get Free: Black Feminism and the Combahee River Collective edited by Keeanga-Yamahtaa Taylor; In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens by Alice Walker; The Black Woman: An Anthology by Toni Cade Bambara; Home Girls by Barbara Smith
- Volunteer for charities/Donate to charities – Hibiscus; Southall Black Sisters; Imkaan; London Black Women’s Project; The Maya Centre; Black Women United for Kids; Black Country Women’s Aid; Black Women’s Health and Family Support; and Black and Minority Ethnic Women’s Network
- When listening to a Black woman’s experience, you should listen. Do not invalidate their experience.
By Annabel Amadi for Studenteer
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