Black Women Feminist Movement

Black feminism is the nexus between the Black liberation and the women's liberation movements, but it has its own distinct ideologies. Black feminist thought consists of specialized knowledge created by African American women that clarifies a standpoint of and for Black women. In other words, Black feminist thought encompasses theoretical interpretations of Black women's reality by those who actually live it. Black feminist perspectives stress how various forms of gender, race, and class oppression work together to form a matrix of social domination. These oppressions are deeply interwoven into social structures and work together to define the history of the lives of Black women in America and other women of color worldwide.

The history of these cultural oppressions can be traced back to the era of United States slavery during which time a social hierarchy developed locating White men at the top, White women next, followed by Black men, and finally, at the bottom, Black women. Because of the wide scope of these oppressors and the 400-year history associated with them, Black feminist writers and theorists reason that Black women have developed a distinct perspective and cognizance that provides them with keen social and economic survival skills, including utilizing everyday strategies of political resistance. The particular interactions of oppressions faced by Black women daily have forced particular perspectives on social reality.

Black feminists are highly critical of oversimplified models of oppression that suggest that Black women must identify as either Black or women, women first and Black second, or Black first and women second. Black feminists believe that when the lives of African American women are improved, there will be progressive development also for African American men, their families, and their communities. Black feminism can be identified with the celebrated historical tradition of Black female activists' commitment to empowering themselves to create a humanistic community for all.

Because middle-class White women within the traditional feminist movement have been accused of focusing on oppression primarily in terms of gender while paying scant attention to issues of race or class, theories of Black feminism were forged in resistance to this felt marginalization. It has been argued, too, that often times Black women had avoided the women's movement based on fear of interrogation by their own community members who linked racism with the women's movement.

Articles in the anthology Words of Fire: An Anthology of African-American Feminist Thought (Guy-Sheftall, 1995) contain some examples of this. Michelle Wallace, in her article, "Anger in Isolation: A Black Feminist's Search for Sisterhood," suggests that the women's movement simply exploits Black women to help it build integrity. bell hooks, in "Black Women Shaping Feminist Theory," complains of the assumption in the women's movement that all women share a common oppressor. The Black feminist critique of racism has demanded that White women claim responsibility for their own racism and not require Black women to either educate White women on issues of race or to applaud their efforts at becoming less racist.

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Comments 9 comments

AEvans profile image

AEvans 7 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I agree with the black women stating that white women should accept responsibility and that statement has been due for a long time. I have many female friends who are black and I respect there opinions and values none of us should be racist against one another as we all have something to share or give. However I disagree with there comment as they place all white women into the same factor and many of us are not racist as we do not judge one another by the color of there skin and we are not judging them for who they are. :)


Another white lady 7 years ago

Honey, racism isn't about "judging" people. It's about being complicit in a system that places people in a hierarchy based upon the color of their skin (among other characteristics such as sexuality, gender and class, to name a few). Just because you have a black friend or two doesn't mean you aren't participating in that system.

I seriously recommend reading "White Like Me" by Tim Wise. I think it'll be an eye-opener.


S Wilson 6 years ago

Fairly good article on black feminism. I must commend you on including some of the key points of the movement and not going too far off the topic. Black feminism has much profundity, I would love to hear more from you on this.


Jordan 5 years ago

The main problem I have with this is the concept that you must "empower yourselves" to enhance humanity.

Dear friends, this is not possible. We are a fallen people, in a fallen world, with fallen problems. And the only One who can help us is He who is Risen.

We have no strength in and of ourselves, and I'm afraid that attempting to make the black woman a god in and of herself will only complicate matters and make them worse, hence the destructiveness of the Strong Black Woman/Superwoman Role.

Look to the One, as in JESUS CHRIST, in whom there is no black, no white, no Jew, no Gentile, no man, no woman. We are all children of God in His eyes and everything we need and desire rests in Him.

Be blessed.


Flint 5 years ago

Why not this: WOMEN, WHITES, AND OTHER MINORITIES instead of the old mantra: WOMEN BLACKS AND OTHER MINORITIES. First there are statistcally more women than men so how can a majority be a minority? Second BLACKS includes black women, so what is all this women and blacks? As though black women are not women? White bitches! Black women are flushed down the lavatory by white feminists, the shits are white feminists.


Dave 4 years ago

The other minorities are homosexual males and anarchists.


Dave Flint 4 years ago

I have noticed that young negros in the UK are beginning to marry young black women of their own race rather than the white feminist thing about white women with blacks. Sex between white women and negros is a big thing with white liberal dinge queen English men and white feminists. It looks like more jet black kids will be banged out rather than those half whites that we usually see.


Dave Flint 4 years ago

Re. "I disagree with there comment as they place all white women into the same factor and many of us are not racist as we do not judge one another by the color of there skin and we are not judging them for who they are."

White feminists are racists in reverse, you want to get rid of the black race in the UK by means of miscegnation between white females and negros and denying black women negro babies.Of course you are judging people by skin colour i.e. for you black men are the black studs.


Manuel 2 years ago

Putin people in categories only dehumanize . Race is a lie .

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