Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Black Radical, Lesbian, Queer, Feminist voices

Women's liberation movement - Wikipedia
image of Black feminist marchers is from here
I've been struggling to figure out how to maintain integrity of practice, of action in friendship and within communities and in isolation. How to find my footing, meaning both my voice and in what perspectives my voice is grounded. I hope to write a series of posts about who influences my thinking and doing and where I am landing at this time.

Radical Black feminism, or Black radical feminism, has been a core influence. Some of the key figures for me have been Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, bell hooks, and Alicia Garza, among others. Each woman has addressed different but overlapping concerns. I see Black radical feminist activism addressing white straight male supremacy, white and Black men's violence against Black women; white women's marginalisation of Black women in movement work, Black men's denial of male privilege and power to oppress women, white women's denial of white privilege and power to oppress women and men; men's sexual exploitation and violence against women of color; many forms of gendered-raced violence that systematically oppress and kill Black, Brown, Asian, and Indigenous women and girls; classism, poverty, and economic violence against women; State and police violence that is misogynoirist; military warfare against Asian and Brown women internationally, police violence and slaughter, the prison industrial complex; and the murder of Black trans women and queer liberation; the legacies and continuing force of European colonialism and globalised capitalism; the struggles of Indigenous women; gender; sexuality; and dealing with issues of sustainable action, responsible engagement in community, and creating systems of support for marginalised and invisibilised girls and women.

There is overlap with white radical feminist agendas in fighting heteropatriarchy, calling out male privilege and power interpersonally, socially, and culturally, and men's sexual violence and exploitation of women and girls of all colors; gender; sexuality and lesbian existence. The white radical feminists I'm speaking of include Andrea Dworkin, Catharine A. MacKinnon, Sheila Jeffreys, and Julie Bindel, to name a few key figures who have shaped the direction of liberatory struggle. The first two have been particularly influential to me, most especially Dworkin. These voices are not monolithic and have or have had different areas of focus with lots of overlap. Among some white feminist writers and activists spanning generations, intersectionality and queerness are critiqued as pro-patriarchal, anti-feminist, or not radical. In this last area, I am in disagreement in part due to a commitment respect and honor the struggles of Black feminists even when at odds with white feminist theories or agendas.

So in this short post I want to link to some conversations among Black feminists and Black liberation workers so that we may hear their struggles, their agendas, in their own voices:

Audre Lorde speech, Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, 1978:

A conversation on October 13, 2014 with bell hooks and Laverne Cox:

A conversation from January 23, 2016, with Barbara Smith, and Reina Gossett, and Charlene Carruthers where liberation struggles are discussed directly:

An October 2016 TED Talk on the murder of Black women by Kimberlé Crenshaw: