Taking My Rightful Role In this Revolution As a Black Feminist
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The following piece was written by a comrade in Philadelphia.

 

Taking My Rightful Role In this Revolution As a Black Feminist
by Iresha Picot

I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life
--June Jordan (“Poem about My Rights”)

 

I fight on a multitude of platforms. I fight against this rotten system, that’s fucking up people’s basic necessities to live. I push back against this prison system that believes in imprisoning African life while capitalizing off of these same black bodies for means of production through a corrupted prison industrial complex. I fight for the liberation of our political prisoners, the best of our warriors for their freedom. I fight to see the African working class mobilize themselves into the vanguards that we are. Everyday I am fighting this beast of imperialism and White domination. Yet when I tell people that I am a Black Feminist, they seem to forget about all the fighting that I do.

“I hold Queen Mother Moore’s guns, breathe in Sojourner’s resilience, birth beautiful black babies like Betty, because I am a Black Feminist

I became one, although unconscious of it at the time, in my sophomore year in college. My teacher wrote “Patriarchy” on the board and I had no idea as to what the term meant. I thought I was pretty well read up until that point (“thought” being the operative word). I came to college armored with books written by George Jackson, Malcolm X, Na’im Akbar, and Chancellor Williams. I had even read various texts by female freedom fighters such as Sister Souljah, Assata Shakur, and Shahrazad Ali. None of them (Assata gave a foundation) ever told me that my struggle for the struggle was another struggle in itself. Meaning, while I was viciously attacking racism/colonialism as a student activist, none of my (s)heroes gave name to the suppression of my womanly being. My gender.

After that class, I started to read more by Black Women writers/feminists. I read the works of Black Women who told me that everything about being a Black Woman is “good”. Its divine and its definitely supreme as any man. I was unearthing a lineage of history that I had never heard of before. Understanding that the oppression of Black Women is multiplicative—race, class, gender, and even for some sexuality. I was definitely at my own center. I was growing flowers out my mind, from Alice Walker’s garden. Reaching across tables for other Sistas hands, that Barbara Smith created and yes, I was standing tall and high on platforms that Audre Lorde built. Listening, for the first time to my suppressed voice that had been on mute for so long, that the sound of it, even scared me a little. I was now looking into mirrors that not only reflected a beautiful Blackness but rather an exquisite Black Woman. I was honoring my experiences and telling my stories. I had become a Black Feminist.

Being a Black Feminist carries its misconceptions in the larger Black community. Continuously, I kept hearing that “Black Feminists are divisive”, “Black Feminists hate Black men”, Black Feminists do not want to be mothers”, etc. I was confused by these longstanding accusations towards Black Feminists because they were found to be unmerited and false. I was even moreso confounded by the marginalization that was promoted by some of our Black revolutionary groups towards Black Feminists. I found myself invited into their spaces of unity, only to sit with them as they tried to convince me that I was living out a “white woman’s ideology”. Feeling the weight of refutation from my comrades, I thought about dropping Black Feminism from my repertoire or dropping out from completely doing work outside of Black Feminist circles. But I knew that it would be loosing the fight that I was trying to win. During a moment of exposing my feelings of alienation to a comrade, he said to me “you have to be prepared to struggle with everybody and definitely struggle to win. If no one wants to hear you as a Black Feminist, then, you just have to speak a little louder. Make more noise, but do it in the community.”...and noise I have been making. I have to speak loud for Black Women because no one else looks upon gender oppression as a viable oppression. Its not enough to move from silence into speech, but to change the nature and direction of our speech, to make a speech that is heard. My fight is for Black Women to name their own oppressions, and to rise up to their rightful role as freedom fighters in their community.

I know that in many cases, I am one Black Feminist that is the exception to many rules. My skin has grown thick to the anti-Black Feminist comments or at this point in my activism; I just don’t give a fuck anymore about the misconceptions. But, I have a bevy of Black Feminist comrades who have went through similar alienation as self-defining Black Feminists. But instead of pushing back against the misconceptions, and staking their place, they have retreated away from the work. Not because they fail to see the value in it, but because they refuse to be met by hostility for holding strong to their own convictions as a Black Feminists. I challenge my Brothas who say that they are for the self-determination and freedom for all Black people to do their part in creating the safe spaces and remain open for Black Feminists who want to come in and do the work. As my mentor, Pam Africa taught me, “The work should always be the most important aspect for progress in our community”. Stop the total rejection of Black Feminism and looking upon Black Feminism as something “wrong”, or “foreign” or even “evil” and find the connection between all of us to grow, develop, and struggle. A total rejection of Black Feminism means the rejection many Black Women that are apart of our community. We do not need separation. It lacks Black unity. It shows the same divisiveness that many accuse Black Feminist of practicing. Forthrightly rejecting Black Feminism calls for an invitation to SILENCE THE SISTAS!

I invite the community to be critical of Black Feminism. Critique, only becomes a problem when you use it for my demise in this revolution as a Black Feminist.
We, as Black Feminists are your:
Mothers
Sisters
Aunties
Cousins
Friends
Comrades

WE, BLACK FEMINISTS ARE PART OF OUR COMMUNITY, TOO!