on black feminism as poetics
suprise, suprise, and surprise, i advocate for feminism.
this doesn’t come as a shocker for most people that know me in real life. my old high school classmates, my debate teammates — hell, even my fraternity brothers know. i love feminism.
“why are you taking a class called Black feminism?”
i remember my aunt asking me.
“gender theory? how is that gonna help you get a job?”
my mom exclaimed.
she didn’t understand. to be fair though, that wasn’t my mom’s fault nor my aunt’s. they’re definitely product of their times, a historical moment where feminism often had little to do with the interests of working-class women, Black/Indigenous women’s, or even queer folks across gender and sexual lines. countless Black feminist and other feminist of colors have detailed the ways that the “mainstream” feminist movement of the 70s/80s succeeded in improving conditions for primarily middle-class white women as they sought career advancement within fields like the corporate sphere.
they desired the fluidity to leave the living hell that was often times rampant in social conditions where (white) women lack the ability to leave the domestic space. there’s no need to downplay the fact that these women have very legitimate reasons for wanting to advance in the workplace. however, there were still many other people during this upswell of feminism that were in conditions of what Dr. Treva Lindsey calls “unlivable living.”
despite being as human as you or i,
with connective tissues
and a beating heart
that pumps ruby red blood
and yet black women were the sticky matter that white feminist trampled over as they sought advances within white patriarchal society. our good sis and feminist scholar bell hooks says it best the way i can relate to it,
“growing up in a southern black, father-dominated, working-class household, I experienced… varying degrees of patriarchal tyranny, and it made me angry.”
many white feminist were failing to understand a key facet of the experience being non-white and also women is that gendering is also a process of racialization and vice versa. but this was an everyday reality for black people and other people of color from all ranges of gender because of the intersections of violence via white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism.
feminism had me like a moth to a flame; endless obsession after obsession. the hyperfocusing from my adhd is a wild card, but whenever i gaze at rue as she appears in her white suburbia
in a sea of whiteness
i’m smiling at the tv
as i gaze at my reflection
or hear the sonic bang of meg’s voice go
“ i’m who every nigga wife fear,
thick, thighed nightmare.”
i’m reminded what feminism is to me,
feminism as poetics
feminism as science
feminism as praxis