If Feminism Doesn’t Include Black Women & Intersectional Issues, Is It Truly About “Equality”?

By Myasi Jackson

The feminist movement has rapidly grown over the past few years. The Women’s March that was held in Washington, D.C this past January brought out 500,000 men and women from various religious and racial groups. Celebrities are beginning to use their voices to bring attention to the issues that feminism fights for. Femininity is becoming an unavoidable force within the millennial culture.

Nonetheless, there is a non-verbalized divide within the movement. Specifically, between African American and white women. Feminism tackles important issues such as sexual assault and wage gaps, but some minority groups often feel as if feminism may only be touching the surface instead of pressing for change in deeper issues that all women do not experience collectively.

Black feminists would like to believe that feminism has their backs. We love Beyonce, but she is not our only spokesperson. Granted, black feminists understand that they aren’t the only race facing oppression & prejudice. Just being a woman alone comes with its hardships. But they would rather stand by a movement that acknowledges and fights against the complexity within issues that we face

Feminism fights for equality of the sexes and pushes for a positive shift in how society values women. It focuses primarily on sexism, misogyny and oppression against women. Feminism has always carried a torch in the fight for equality, but as it grows, it is missing a few marks.

Black women have hopelessly desired the same equality as white women in America. The experience of being an African American in the United States is a hardship on its own, and to be an African American woman adds to trauma. This is where Black Feminism comes into play.

This branch of the feminist movement doesn’t exclude itself from the big picture of feminism. They carry the same values and fight for the same issues as other feminists do. The intersecting of the two groups is what keeps the purpose of feminism close in theory. However, black feminist has a bolder approach given that their issues aren’t always discussed. Black feminists feel that the portrayal of feminism often only highlights the experience from a white woman’s perspective.

Black feminism focuses on issues like healthcare equality, structural and institutional racism, and reproductive issues. Therefore, Black feminists believe that the obstacles they face cannot fit into the generalized approach in feminism.

All women experience prejudice, but when black women face it, it is often a direct racial stab and downplay of their significance. The intensity is not in comparison to any other race in America. They are labeled as angry when assertive, ghetto because of their culture and are treated unfairly because of the perceptions of the public.

A black women’s worth in America hasn’t always played a significant role when discussing the changes that feminism pushes for.

Not to mention black feminists believe that their importance in society often takes a back seat to black males. They believe they are not a part of the “damage control” of the African American issues society attempts to practice with black males. Black women face opposition in our work and home roles. And in that work, they aren’t valued as much as white women.

The differences in focus on issues within feminism places a major divide and has caused a portion of black feminists for withdraw their support from the movement. This has caused a decline in the strength of the movement and halts the changes that we advocate for.

Despite the oppression, black feminists have always found a way to raise their fists and their voices. The voice of the black feminist has been alive and thriving since the Civil Rights era and has only expanded as the country progressed.

The use of hashtags and phrases on social media has brought an immense amount of support to the black female community. It creates and supports images that celebrate our culture and magnifies our beauty. The hashtag #blackgirlmagic has exploded and made a huge impact in the confidence of black women. Black feminist took to social media to bring awareness to the 14 black girls that went missing in DC last month when the subject was not reported mainstream.

Black women would like to be acknowledged as the scholars, authors, entrepreneurs, and creatives that they are. Programs like Black Girls Rock and movies like ‘Hidden Figures’ celebrate the greatness black women carry that is often belittled. Black feminists like Solange Knowles, Jamila Woods, and Beyonce use the art of music to celebrate the culture and bring forth the issues of black women.

However, feminism can become a much stronger force by acknowledging the issues of all women and release the generalized approach to the subject. The different experiences we have do not and should not halt the movement. Voices from every background can make the roar louder and push for the changes we desire to see.

To make this happen, the core of feminism must not ignore the issues that minority women face. By making all issues come to the front line in the movement, it has the potential to grow immensely. These conversations must be held to bring the issues of minority women forward.

As women, we can’t afford to lose supporters because of our differences. We must use the intersectionality that exists amongst the two groups as well as the issues that go beneath the surface to make feminism relatable and more desirable to gain support from women of every race and background.

As the fight for equality of the sexes still exists, feminism has the power to stop the its equality divide within its own movement to create powerful results in change. If you are looking to take your feminism to an intersectional level, here are a few organizations I recommend learning about to help you get started:

Black Women’s Blueprint

– This organization began in 2008 when “sister circles” of black women would meet to discuss their roles and importance in America during the election that year. They began the organization to create their own blueprint for change as it correlates with all black women. Their primary focus is to remove the intersectionality within feminism between black and white women.

Black Girls Code

– This organization founded by Kimberly Bryant educates and coaches young black women who want to break into the field of online coding. Black Girls Code wants to introduce the programming and technology industry to the new generation to open their ideals of what they are capable of.

Girl Trek

– With various branches across the country Girl Trek is the largest public health nonprofit for African American women & girls in the US. Their mission is to use walking as steps to enhance the health within their bodies, families, and communities.

Black Women for Wellness

– This organization aims to build on the health and political structure and occupation for black women in America. They target the past and present issues of the health by researching the history of health within black women to provide them with the appropriate and affordable resources for the improvement of their health.

 

 

Myasi Jackson is a lifestyle freelance writer that resides in Alabama. She writes for various publications through her writing business Purpose Copy. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism at the University of South Alabama while minoring in sociology. Myasi has recently been featured on Career Optimist, PRSUIT, and GIRLS CAN’T WHAT?

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