Last night, I attended an event in Houston, Texas called "The Black History Project 4 - Change The Narrative". This event was held for all people within the African diaspora to come together collectively to share their thoughts, ideas, and solutions in regards to the black experience in the United States of America. There were 3 topics, but the first topic (and the one that interested me the most) was "Intersectionality".
What exactly is intersectionality you might ask? Intersectionality (according to the pamphlet I was given at the program) is the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping, and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
And if all of that was a mouthful, I completely understand. Please see illustration below. (This was also on the pamphlet but I found it on google.)
So in terms of intersectionality, the discussion was of course how it pertains to people of color. The topic got pretty heated really fast. We talked about the LGBT community, and how their issues always seem to be overlooked in the black community, which I can definitely agree with. And then we got on the topic of black women and feminism and womanism in which is what I essentially want to discuss on this post. Until this event, I had no idea what "womanism" was. The way panelists attempted to explain it was very vague for me, but I wanted to know more about it because I truly do not understand it. From what I could gather, womanism was created because the feminist movement was intended only for white women. So of course I googled. What I found was that the term "womanist" was coined by Alice Walker. She spoke of this in her book, In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose which I plan on sinking into when it comes in the mail. To learn more about womanism as a whole, Progressive Pupil has a pretty good write up about this. But my question is: why do we need both words? Up until this event, I considered myself a feminist. (I mean, Beyoncé does why shouldn't I?) But now I feel like, will I be considered as not being for black women in the overall black movement in general if I don't refer to myself as a womanist?! This is hella stressful.
Then I came across an article put out by the USA Today discussing intersectional feminism. Which is basically the definition given above for intersectionality, but now only applied to women. A dissection within a dissection. Super weird right? It has some great points that I resonate more with. This article was published after this year's Women's March, and it brilliantly articulated why all women need to be included in the overall feminist movement. To me, this country is divided AF as it is. Why continue as black women to keep disconnecting ourselves from issues that affect all women overall? America is waking up, and to me that means that we have to come up with solutions to be included in the same space. Yes, I do agree that some white women are ignorant to (or choose to be rather) issues of women of color. I know shit won't happen overnight, but I truly believe that we need to continue to educate everyone on the importance of equality. Why do some white people feel like they'll lose power or feel threatened is beyond me, and honestly another topic for a different day. But I think I'll stick to the word feminist. In no way is that to dismiss what Alice Walker essentially created for the black woman, but I feel that we cannot come together as people if we remain divided. Some things I truly believe we distance ourselves from.
What do you think? I'm willing to have a civilized dialogue about this matter. Please leave a comment below or leave a comment on my social platforms.
*p.s. I am in not referring to Black Lives Matter when talking about feminism. It's still Black Lives Matter over here. All lives will not matter until Black lives do. Just putting that out there for anyone thinking me wanting to be all inclusive for feminism was mutually exclusive of the ridiculous All Lives Matter movement.