Why I Supported the Hoodie March and Not SlutWalk

2 Apr

Nearly two Wednesdays ago, after a long day in the office, I frantically drove home, donned one of three dark hoodies that I own, hopped a train to NYC from Jersey, met another Sista Prof friend and made it via taxi to Union Square just in time to participate in the first One Million Hoodies for Trayvon Martin March, which had been announced only the day before.

After hearing from Trayvon’s parents and the family’s attorney, we burst into the streets of Manhattan, speaking Trayvon’s name, almost as if the fervency of our incantations would call this boy, this young Lazarus, back to life. The energy in the air was nothing short of electric. We were not there when Trayvon begged for his life on a suburban lawn in Florida. But our collective screams on his behalf hopefully served to amplify his own screams that night.

I have been taken aback by the degree to which this case has touched the nation. With more than 2,000, 000 signatures on the Change.org petition and many public figures donning hoodies on his behalf, Trayvon’s murder has the potential to galvanize national conversations about racial profiling, the criminalization of Black male bodies, and the unequal way that arrests, conviction, and sentencing are applied to Black v. non-Black persons.

But as I sat home the next day and reflected on how simple a decision it was for me to attend the March and how glad I was that I went, I thought about my more ambivalent stance toward another movement that is also central to my political commitments.


It occurred to me that there was a central point of connection between the organizing principle of the Hoodie Marches and of SlutWalk, namely that each movement has sought to dramatize the intrinsic illogic of suggesting that one’s clothing choices invite–and more to the point– justify violent treatment. Not two days after the NYC hoodie march and one day after more than 30,000 people showed up in Sanford, Fl on Trayvon’s behalf, Geraldo Rivera said on Fox News that in fact Trayvon’s hoodie has as much to do with his murder as Zimmerman’s gun.

As if.

But then all of a sudden, dudes understood. I saw FB status after FB status saying, “a hoodie is no more to blame for Trayvon’s murder than a woman’s clothing choices are to blame for rape.” I might have cheered.

But really, what I had was a larger question. Why had I, an ardent (CRUNK) feminist refused to support SlutWalk? My primary reason as I’ve said before was about the inherent white privilege signaled by a movement that wanted to “reclaim” the word “slut.” Moreover, I felt like there was simply much more at stake to ask a woman of color to come and actively identify as a slut, than was at stake for the white women who readily jumped on the bandwagon. Also, as Trayvon’s case has demonstrated, the larger issue within SlutWalk was policing. I told organizers months ago in a dialogue in our comments section, that a critique of policing would invite all kinds of folks to come to the table. Because what has become abundantly clear is that both gender and racial ideologies are deployed to constrict the rights of women and men, Black and Brown to take up public space.  So my choice not to participate was an active assertion of the principle that I don’t want to be a part of any feminism that fails to actively critique racism.

Yet, I know that contemporary Black feminism emerged not just as a critique of white women’s racism, but also as a critique of Black men’s strident sexism.

Nothing infuriates me more than race-based organizing in which Black men take up all the space in the room. And it is precisely because of the long history of unjustified murders of Black men, that brothas feel entitled to exist at the center of the Black racial universe and feel justified in having the struggles that they face take up more than their fair share of the finite political, financial, and emotional energy and resources that we have to organize.

The result is that Black women find it incredibly difficult to make the case that the issues which affect us– alarmingly high rates of AIDS/HIV infection, disturbing statistics around Intimate Partner Violence, homicide, and rape, disproportionate rates of poverty, increasing numbers of incarceration and policing, the explosion of sex trafficking of young women, and copious amounts of street harassment—matter as much, are worth as much attention.

To put it the way some brothers have more or less put it to me: YES, sistas are being beaten, raped, and making do by themselves, but brothers are being KILLED. *Brotha drops mic. Walks away* Conversation over. (with no acknowledgement of the kind of privilege it is to both have the mic in the first place AND an audience when you do get the chance to speak.)

And now, another black boy is dead. And we are all rightfully angry.

But this position does not come without its risks.

Consider that there are no mass marches for Rekia Boyd, no massive national outcry, though her story has received more coverage in light of the Trayvon Martin situation.

In a zero-sum universe where resources are finite, and we have to pick our battles, rape/beating/harassment is (apparently) no match for state violence and murder. Within Black communities, high rates of Black male-on-Black male homicide matter more than the numbers of Black women killed at the hands of their Black male partners.

Feminist or not, it remains clear that Black women’s collective racial love affair with Black men is still going strong.

As a feminist, I personally struggle with what it means that on any given day, racism still seems to matter more to me than sexism. 

I marched for Trayvon almost without a second thought; with SlutWalk, its shortcomings were enough to keep me away.

 And while I could chalk up my choices to my experiences with violence– I have seen lots of violence in my lifetime, having lost my own father to gun violence—my choices are not quite so simple, when I acknowledge that I also have many, many women friends –and quite a few male friends, too—who are the victims of rape and sexual abuse and far too many female relatives who’ve confronted near-deadly violence at the hands of their male partners.

A couple of days after the Hoodie March, I had the pleasure of participating in a conference called Women of Power in Harlem. At the behest of the conference’s fierce Feminist Enough organizer, Shantrelle P. Lewis, we panelists rocked our hoodies at the morning sessions.

Photo by Jati Lindsay

That simple request and the seriousness with which we all took it, reminded me of just how much it continues to matter to Black women that our Black feminism not alienate us from Black men.

In fact, if I could just keep it one hundred, I think Black women care much less about whether our racial commitments or feminist expressions alienate us from white women.

Yet, the question remains

 Do Black men love us as much as we love them? Do they care enough to make sure their racial commitments and their gender politics and investments in unhealthy forms of masculinity don’t alienate us? Are they outraged about the shit we’re facing?

How do we make it so that our choice to stand up for Trayvon and acknowledge the injustices perpetrated in his name doesn’t set Black feminist organizing back three decades, by reinforcing notions about Black men being an endangered species, particularly since in this moment, it feels in some ways, like they are?

I don’t have answers, but I do invite dialogue. Feel free to share your thoughts.

66 Responses to “Why I Supported the Hoodie March and Not SlutWalk”

  1. sistaoutsider April 2, 2012 at 6:49 AM #

    Reblogged this on sistaoutsider.

    • Juanita Muñoz April 2, 2012 at 9:30 PM #

      Women of all colors are brutally murdered in myriad ways that extend far beyond intimate partner violence and their deaths are often considered less important or ignored, even by feminists. There is a lack of solidarity in the pro-female movement that is deeply debilitating to its cause. It saddens me to read about women downgrading women’s issues as lesser priorities in their social and political activism.

    • ogwriter April 9, 2012 at 3:24 PM #

      Well, m not sure where to start since there is so much to say. First let say that on the issue of violence that happens to women( a purposeful distinction): The recent discussion about renewal of the violence against women act included a provision that, mysteriously, didn’t get much play in the progressive media;the inclusion of the LGBT community in the act. The LGBT community, strangely, struggled against the established feminists to get this recognition and inclusion; it wasn’t handed to them. Bravo for them. Now there remains only one group of people who are not covered by this act… wait for it … of course, straight men This would be one of the many reasons that I don’t support this measure. Moreover, the fact that this struggle had to to be waged for inclusion, by other feminists women, the fact that gay men, not straight men are covered, the fact this means that women, some of them feminists, rape and commit acts of domestic violence against other women and it still isn’t voluntarily being openly discussed by women is shameful. It is also entirely consistent with certain aspects of feminism that I and other men who support abortion rights ( i always have) and reproductive health care and a host of other female issues, quite frankly loath. Feminist have constructed an image of women and men that is no better than what was there before. I have always known that black women can and often are as violent in the house as any man. What is troubling is that we, as a community, ignore the lessons of Antwone fisher and Precious. We pretend, because of the invisible cloak of moral self righteousness covering all women, that black women don’t beat their children with extension cords, we pretend that black women don’t emasculate their boys and men, we pretend that black women are helpless victims but never calculating perpetrators.Don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying that black women are monsters like they so often have said of black men.On the contrary, I’m saying that, blackwomen are human just like men are

  2. ruth and lola April 2, 2012 at 7:41 AM #

    wow. i’m currently reading crenshaw (1989; 91) and in many ways, society has reverted back 30+ years, so why shouldn’t we be organizing like then? however, as a black woman in this moment, i hesitate to don a hoodie because being killed by police or a self-appointed and armed neighborhood watchman is not something that has happened or necessarily would happen to an unarmed black woman, like you said. women wear hoodies to hide themselves from potential threats that are, unfortunately too often, black men.

    maybe when we see trayvon, we think of our brothers, sons, cousins, and fathers and when we see white women, we maybe see a friend or a coworker that gets on our nerves sometimes, but it’s not nearly as personal. the question remains is how do/come black men separate their mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters from the women they see on the street, on the train, in the club?

    or maybe it’s difficult for black men to rally against other black male perpetrators because that means that they have to confront their own demons. whereas, black women aren’t the ones killing and threatening black men, so it’s easier for us to rally against the common enemy of white men? but black men would have to rally against themselves on behalf of black women?

    i obviously don’t have any answers either…

    • Donielle April 2, 2012 at 4:40 PM #

      Your post/reply really made me think, but also, arriving at no answers. Reflecting on it, I realize (some/many) black men DO speak out when there is violence against black men BY black men. Black men also speak out about parenting- the need to fulfill parenting duties, ESP for black boys. However when the victims are women and girls, I perceive less of this rallying by black men. So I think that black men are not less likely to confront themselves on issues, they are moreso less likely to stand up for female victims.

    • ogwriter April 9, 2012 at 3:55 PM #

      I can speak for myself and I think for many of my male friends on the issue of violence in our community. I don’t pay attention to any noise about violence against women. Why? Because, like many of my friends, my mother was the most violent person I knew. And she was such at the behest of and with the support of the community.You see, she had to keep those “manish”( dumb shit word) boy’s inline: Right. So, while my mother was raging against violence against women in the 60’s and 70’s,she was beating the crap out of her children at home. And not only that but their was the psychological torture and humiliation. I lost all respect for her. as a feminist. The real tragedy is that not much has changed since then. Women still,labor under the misconceptions that; violence that happens to them is special and somehow more important than violence that they commit against some one else or violence that happens to some one else. It seems to me that now that we know that lesbian women commit acts of rape and domestic violence( i hate that term) can’t we drop the pretense about women not being violent? The truth is, violence among human beings is a problem and is bigger than just violence against women. It seems logical to me that if a person complains about someone being violent towards them they should first make sure that they are following their own rules. Lastly, i coach at a urban school in Oakland California. Not A day goes by that I don’t hear some girls, unprovoked, referring to boy’s as bitches, hoes, punks, or if a boy is not outwardly masculine( hard) they call him gay.I’ve also noticed that some Asian girls and women who date white guys exclusively say that Asian men and boy’s are too nerdy and gay. aGAIN, CAN WE DROP THE BS?

      • Denise April 13, 2012 at 11:27 AM #

        DROP THE BS? Tell that to all the young girls who are being pimped right this minute. Is it OK to let such a large portion of our future potential fall through the cracks just because they are girls? If this is our attitude, then we are likely to get nowhere as a collective. And speaking of violence perpetrated by Black women. Of course, it’s wrong. But that does not give you leave to ignore the violence against Black women either. In fact, Black people, collectively, should be working to end ALL forms of violence among ourselves, not picking and choosing which type is OK and which is not. That’s stupid. If you put yourself in a position where you are hurting your only ally, where does that leave you when your enemy attacks?

  3. George April 2, 2012 at 8:28 AM #

    Thanks for sharing! As a gay, white male, I appreciate hearing your perspective.

    One thing I wasn’t clear on… When you said that there’s an idea out there held by some, that violence against black men trumps violence against black women because the black men are being killed, and black women are only being beaten and raped, I immediately thought of lots of black women who have been murdered, and who’s murders just get swept under the rug.

    I don’t know the statistics, and perhaps this assertion is correct on a purely statistical level, but I just wanted to share that there is certainly an awareness in my mind of a large number of black women being murdered. Our society seems to think these women are disposable 😦

    I do agree that the murder of black men seems more prominent in our cultural awareness, especially in the minds of most white people.

    I also had never thought of Slutwalk from a privilege perspective, but thanks for sharing that. I would love it if you expanded on the idea of the reclamation of the word slut having more at stake for women of color.

    Thank you again for sharing!

    • George April 2, 2012 at 8:31 AM #

      Oh, sorry, I see you did include a link to your post where you talked about the Slutwalk… 🙂 I’ll go read that now!

    • ogwriter April 9, 2012 at 4:24 PM #

      On the slut walk and on reclaiming words.First of all Rush Limbaugh doesn’t represent all men. Secondly, men have been dating, having sex with and marrying sluts and hoes for as long as their have been men and women; we are not that tone deaf. Thirdly, many women who have the courage to live how they want, like Mae West, Madonna, Christina A. and Josephine Baker too name a few, staked their reputations and careers on playing the woman who liked sex with lots of different men;and men loved them, still do. In fact Madonna has slept with many men, some even married and it hasn’t hurt her career one bit. Jenna Jamison, the world’s most successful porn star, sells plastic moldings of her vagina to poor hapless sexless men for big bucks.So please can we stop with the women don’t voluntarily use sex for profit and personal gain For many men, on this issue, this is where the tire hits the asphalt. Men are tired of being used by women who use their sexuality to hurt and control men while hiding behind a veil of false morality. Once a word is out there it doesn’t belong to anyone. The truth is I’ve women use the term sluts and hoes at least as much as men. But we wouldn’t want to spend too much time exploring that aspect of the discussion because it calls into question feminist theory. I watched a Chritina A video yesterday. She was clad, if you could call it that, in a variety of outfits that if your daughter wore you’d wonder wear she was going. This outfit included a pair of bright red cutoff panties that she showed off at every opportunity by spreading her legs to the camera a gazillion times. Who many teenage boy’s watch that video? Who’s exploiting whom?

  4. Lady Unfair April 2, 2012 at 9:18 AM #

    Reblogged this on No Regrets and commented:
    This echoes a lot of the questions I’ve had about the response over the Trayvon Martin case. I only heard about the Slut Walk last week; this blog better articulates some things I’m still unpacking around “slut”.

  5. jrsirmans April 2, 2012 at 9:52 AM #

    I am very impressed with your insight & clarity. I have yet to fully grasp what you say but I do acknowledge that I’m not where you are.
    I’ll willingly ride for my black women but I doubt I’m typical. I’d also say that Black women prefer men that don’t act as I do. I believe that women in general prefer a mystique & chasm to overcome. Confounds me but who am I to tell anybody to be functionally critical.
    I do have a black woman….black men have put her through the grinder. It has been hell just getting her to understand how awesome she is. There isn’t a day I don’t think of running to white women or asian women or latinas but I know that explaining the simple parts of why I react certain situations is something that only a black woman can understand. Been there, done that. All in all, I agree in most things you say but the one issue I’ll raise in my rambling, I’m sure you’ve already considered this but the difference in slut walk & trayvon rallies are that we shouldn’t be asked to change our skin color but clothing shouldn’t violate propriety. Not condoning, I blame the perpetrator. Even still, this wasn’t trayvon being in a known dangerous setting. This was the proliferation of ignorance. In the same breath, I would pay to have better lighting, security & public presence around dangerous areas for women. But it is social change…

  6. 2 Girls Getting Married April 2, 2012 at 10:33 AM #

    “As a feminist, I personally struggle with what it means that on any given day, racism still seems to matter more to me than sexism.”

    Thanks for that. For the whole piece but for that quote in particular.

    As a white lesbian feminist, I struggle with what it means for me to care more about homophobia than sexism.

    It takes me back to the point in my women’s and gender studies where I first thought to question What Woman? Who are They Talking About? and Am I Sure That It Includes Me?

    • tobey1987 April 2, 2012 at 12:58 PM #

      I hate to take up space that’s supposed to be about black women,but I feel the same way as a white lesbian feminist. I have a hard time finding places where the conversation around how lesbians in particular are treated within feminism is taking place. Do you by any chance have any links you can share?

      In regards to the article, thanks for sharing, it is definitely some great food for thought and I appreciate learning about your perspective. These ways those of us dealing with various intersections have to contort ourselves can be really painful sometimes 😦

      • 2 Girls Getting Married April 2, 2012 at 8:06 PM #

        I don’t have any links specific to this issue, but I will say I just read a FANTASTIC book called Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History by Heather Love. It’s queer theory, but it does explore what happens when queer folks try to move forward from a past we were never a part of. And it explores how (or if) queer folk can make sense of being written out of history or if not written out then written about only in terms of a “what can we learn from this painful experience” teachable moment. My post about it is here: http://wp.me/p24z4M-aj.

        As far as intruding on a black feminist space, that wasn’t my intention. I was just trying to relate my situation with the author’s. I’m hoping crunktastic doesn’t feel like I did.

    • cvh April 5, 2012 at 8:25 AM #

      I really appreciate the candor around the question of how we each respond to our multiple memberships (aka intersectionality), and what it takes for us to feel comfortable speaking out on one but not every issue relevant to us as part of our identity-group connections. 2Girls, your comment and tobey’s raised an issue that I rarely see discussed, about how gay men seem to get more support from lesbians (and straight women and men) than lesbians seem to get from gay men (and straigh women and men).

      Just as in this post:

      Nothing infuriates me more than race-based organizing in which Black men take up all the space in the room.

      I wonder about orientation-based organizing where gay men take up the space, and leave lesbians, transpersons, and gender-nonconformists out.

      So, as I’m appreciating all of the honesty and insights about racism and sexism in this post, I’m also prompted to think about similar dynamics at other intersections too.

      • 2 Girls Getting Married April 5, 2012 at 9:53 AM #

        I think the question of who takes up what space is a question about power. When all the people in the room have the same minority status (ie all non-heterosexual, all people of color, all women etc.) then I think the other non-minority hierarchy comes into play. For example, if there are a bunch of gays and lesbians in a room, I think naturally the men (and non-POC men at that) will try and take the lead. If it’s all women, then I think race comes into play.

        I am also, very much, appreciating the constructive dialogue and discussion around this particular topic. 🙂

      • ogwriter April 9, 2012 at 5:03 PM #

        One of the reasons blackmen take up all of the room on these issues is because they are expected to by their community as a demonstration of their masculinity. Black men have been doing this, taking this role since Crispus Attucks was shot down in Boston. In every war in America, black men have fought for the right to represent their people. Right or wrong, these men believed that by taking this lead role, they could help ALL black people, not just men, acquire full rights as citizens. This was what the Tuskegee Air Men did, what black ground troops did in WW1 and WW2 and the Civil War. These men risked their lives for their people. Fulfilling a role that needed to be filled. Women weren’t going to do it. I have never heard of any women in this country, protesting for the right to fight on the front lines of any war. One a the problems with how this issue is viewed is the common perspective suggests that blackmen have become and identify themselves as black men in a male dominated vacuum where only men breathe life into the meaning. This is patently untrue. Men and women define each other in a process that is ever evolving.It is a fact of evolutionary biology that the central nervous systems of men and women were developed in relationship to each other;period.We define each other.This is yet another major issue feminism has gotten wrong but doesn’t have the humility or insight to admit to it. Black women especially have a big influence on how black men perceive and shape themselves in response to the desires of the woman. Black women have always got something to say about how a black man should be a man; even though they haven’t spent any time being a man themselves. I personally, have learned to reject ideas, values,and beliefs about masculinity, especially black masculinity, from most women. You see, in America, masculinity is conditional and can be taken away by just about any women on the street……………..It is common to hear in the black community this phrase prefacing some criticism of a man.”…. if you were a real man …..” Emasculation of men and boy’s by women in the black is a big problem,,and is so common men and boys just accept it

  7. tua26550 April 2, 2012 at 1:21 PM #

    I absolutely love the post. I ( a young black female) supported slutwalk and trayvon martin. It becomes really hard when you fall in both categories knowing the other party isn’t as passionate about your cause as you may be theirs.

    As far as slutwalk goes, white women and black women may have different stigmas attached to their societal status in life; however, the “oppressors” in the matter (black men and white men) equally make sexist comments regarding a “woman’s purity”. I use to think that black womens’ relationships with black men were different than white womens’ relationships with their men, but as time goes on, it seems that they assimilate better with white men if they take on their traditional sexist views.

    I recognize that not all men are sexist, but many of them act in that manor.

    • ogwriter April 9, 2012 at 5:23 PM #

      When you say that only men oppress women on this issue you are forgetting that women call each other slut, hoe , bitch etc also. I hear women all the time and have my whole life, make derogatory remarks about what other women look like, what other women are wearing and the appropriateness of other women’s clothing. Yet, this aspect of this issue is almost never a part of the public narrative. As far as the purity of women; no such thing; and i’m fine with that. Like many other men, I know that women aren’t pure and we’ve always known. We know that sometimes our wives and girlfriends sleep around. We know that sometimes our wives and girlfriends sleep with our friends. We know that women experiment sexually with other women without telling us. I can’t think of a single friend of mine over the last 30years who has expressly wanted or looked for a virgin to date or marry. Blackmen especially know this. In my family alone,of 9 children, there are 5 different fathers. I see no conflict between supporting so called women’s issues and supporting issues around racism or any other kind of abuse of any other group or persons; that ridiculous.This wrongheaded belief, is obviously a part of feminist narrative, is one of the primary problems why democrats and progressives could loose this election. Until we realize that anyone that suffers abuse is deserving of equal our protection, regardless of gender, politics,religion and other cultural separators and qualifiers, everyone will always be vulnerable.

  8. Mirakel April 2, 2012 at 2:50 PM #

    I am not a black woman, but I am Latina, and as such a woman who is also limited by the bounds of white privilege and by the internal conflicts of violence within the Latino community against women. I just wanted to say that your blog makes so much sense, and I fully agree. As a feminist myself, it is hard to admit that though I care about women’s issues, especially domestic violence and sexual assault (I work in a shelter for women in transition), racism sometimes lights a quicker flame under me. I hate to think it’s because we’re desensitized a bit to the women’s issues in our own communities even though we are vehemently against them, due to the fact that they are so commonplace, and so personal, but that might be it. Thank you for such a thought-provoking post. It definitely made me think.

  9. scatterheart April 2, 2012 at 3:19 PM #

    It’s a shame, because SW could’ve really brought home the anti-policing angle if they prioritized it enough. Especially after the scandal with the NYPD “Rape Cops,” and the Manhattan DA’s facilitation of media attacks on rape survivor Nafissatou Diallo. But that’s the thing about calling structural violence for what it is, right? It’s just not sexy enough. And when media attention is the highest priority, you gotta make it sexy somehow. No wonder it was a failure, and I say that as someone who helped organize one, and who was disappointed by the outcome. In its attempt to center individual choice and sexy consensual sex, they missed the boat on addressing widespread structural issues that not even enthusiastic consent could alleviate.

    I don’t blame you for choosing the Hoodie March over SW; it was a very clear, direct response to the problem of white supremacist violence. There was no dancing around that message, and unlike with SW, you [and I, too] could trust and support every intent behind that action. But it shouldn’t be about choosing between your blackness and your feminism; it’s that everyone, anti-racists AND feminists, should collectively recognize the precarious nature of being in a body that is largely mistrusted, and in the case of most PoC, implicitly criminalized. White women can at least relate to the former; and because of that, they SHOULD take more of a stand against police violence, profiling and killing of PoC. (In reality, very few do.) In a similar way, black men SHOULD be as vocal about the all-out war on black women as much as they are about the war on black men. Black women exist at an intersection that heightens their vulnerability to multiple forms of violence and hate, though it’s not a hierarchy as much as it is a web of oppressions. Whether you choose one march over the other, it doesn’t mean you care more about Trayvon than rape survivors. It’s just about whether the message behind the action itself is one you’re more comfortable with and certain about representing.

  10. maqsum April 2, 2012 at 3:22 PM #

    “To put it the way some brothers have more or less put it to me: YES, sistas are being beaten, raped, and making do by themselves, but brothers are being KILLED. *Brotha drops mic. Walks away* Conversation over. (with no acknowledgement of the kind of privilege it is to both have the mic in the first place AND an audience when you do get the chance to speak.)”

    “As a feminist, I personally struggle with what it means that on any given day, racism still seems to matter more to me than sexism.”

    WORD. I struggle with that all the time. So @#$@!!! frustrating.

  11. emjabouin April 2, 2012 at 3:42 PM #

    Thank you for this post. I really think it is meaningful; and that looking at how our politics as black women may favour some struggles over others is worth giving a lot of thought to.

    I have not read the other posts although I would like to take the time to do so in the near future. There is one thing I want to say: I believe that it is sooo important for us as black women to not step down and stand strong for our feminism which includes of course a strong race analysis and which should not stop us from supporting black men. In doing that though, I think we should DEMAND for black men and our partners, of whatever gender, to support our political beliefs and points of view. Supporting sexist politics and ideas about black women is also racist because often, similar ideas/notions/actions are not used in the same way against white women specifically. When one requires to be respected in the way that we want to be, we will lose some, but we will also win some valuable support and love. To be very honest with you, I am for the very first time in my life supported by a man who listens and who does not support sexist crap. I truly feel fulfilled and realize that it is possible to not take crap from people and also for those we love to most defnitely not take crap from us. As a friend of mine once said “your silence will not protect you”. Either way, not saying what is on your heart will not make your life easier when encountering oppressive people.

    Much care and affection to you- stay strong.

  12. Erin D. C. April 2, 2012 at 4:01 PM #

    As a black woman and a black feminist, I identify with your positions on most of the points you made. For me, neither SlutWalk nor the Hoodie March were satisfying responses to the issues at hand. I think it’s necessary to emphasize that Trayvon’s murder was not really incited by his hoodie but by what the hoodie is taken to represent–another sign of blackness=criminality/threat/valueless life. Without intending to, emphasis on the hoodie invites comments like Geraldo Rivera’s. Likewise, I see little value in claiming the word “slut” or dressing as a “slut” as a critique of or act of defiance against sexual violence. Women and girls are threatened with sexual violence not because of what they wear or don’t wear but because of ongoing sexism, misogyny and male privilege. Any woman’s outfit can be considered provocative in any setting, depending on the mindset of the observer. So, I think both instances of emphases on clothes are flawed.

    But I want to speak to your larger point about reciprocal intra-racial support for gendered issues of threat and violence. In teaching my seminar on the history of black feminism, I have emphasized to my students that black women and black feminists have been organizing around instances of white supremacist violence against black communities generally and black men in particular since the late 19th century. Following in Ida B. Wells’s footsteps, we have worked, through our organizations and as individuals, to put a spotlight on particularly egregious atrocities and always considered these threats and perpetrations of violence to affect black women as much as black men. Over the course of the twentieth century that communal threat has been obscured in favor of the notion that black men, as you put it, are an endangered species, somehow more endangered than black women.

    As historians and black feminists, we know black men aren’t more endangered. We know it isn’t true. But it FEELS true because it’s so often repeated and so often acted upon and has become so deeply engrained in our collective black communal and U.S. national consciousnesses.

    I don’t have any final answers on this issue, but I do think it important to highlight that this question of reciprocation of investment, energies and activism between black men and women is one of discourse and perception. Despite the gendered discourse that has grown up around the perception of black men’s particular and greater endangerment, we are in fact equally endangered, equally in need of care, of “analysis” (as Michele Wallace put it), and of the development of new and radical praxes to address our oppression.

    • ogwriter April 9, 2012 at 6:20 PM #

      If women and girls are being raped and abused because of misogyny how does your theory explain that lesbians, many of them feminists, have similar statistics on rape and domestic violence as straight males in their communicates? How do you explain that the entire LGBT community has similar statistics on rape and domestic violence as straight males? Are you saying that lesbians rape and beat each other up because of misogyny? Are you saying that the violence and sexual abuse we saw from black women in movies like Antwone Fisher and Precious didn’t happen? Are you saying that the black women that I see everyday cursing, hitting, demeaning and bullying their children, crushing their spirit doesn’t happen? Are you saying that the black women I’ve know to be male hating emasculators don’t exist? Are you saying that the young black girls I see every day at the high school where I volunteer, who regularly emasculate the boy’s, especially boys perceived as “soft” by calling them GAY doesn’t really happen? T…………………….hese things are no secret but are treated as secrets in the black community. It troubles me to consistently hear black women talk about violence against them but never hear them take responsibility for the violence they commit and the ramifications of those acts. Is it so hard to conceive that a boy who was beaten and humiliated at his mothers feet could grow up to do the same to someone else?

  13. S. Mandisa Moore April 2, 2012 at 5:07 PM #


    I been reading this blog for a little over a year now. I love it-not because all the writers seem to have sharp analyses, but because it is home for me. These are the issues I dedicate my life to dismantling or uplifting. Crunktastic-I particularly like your analysis-it’s always so thoughtful and honest. I dont even know you, but I respect and admire you. I also like that you are from Louisiana, because as a Louisiana grrl myself, it’s good to see black women like ourselves (from the deep south) thinking about the dangerous intersections of oppression in a way that acknowledges our full selves.

    I was deeply pained by portions of your article. It struck a tender part of me to read this-not because Im fucked up or you’re fucked up, but because you talk about issues that are at the very crux of our existence. What really hurt me is what felt to me like a continued invisibility of the many ways black women and girls are killed-all the time. When you began the paragraph “to put it the way some brothers have more or less put it to me” I believed you would remove the veil around the invisibility of black women and girls. Not only are we raped, beaten, harassed on the streets, but we’re also murdered-by law enforcement, by our partners and family members, by strangers-all the time. I actually wrote about it on a blog Im a regular contributor for….I would love to know what you think…..

    At the end of day, to me, this isnt a competition-I just want black women and black girls to hold the same value in black communities that black men and boys hold.

    Also, I noticed you name the “explosion of sex trafficking of young women” as an example of the many issues black women daily contend with. I do a lot of legal research and other support work for an amazing organization led by black women and black girls with life experiences in street economies and/or the criminal justice system that has some really powerful critiques of the current trafficking movement-namely, how sex trade issues and trafficking are instantly conflated as the same thing in a way that simplifies a very complex, systemic issue. What are your thoughts on this?

    • Zhurenaissance April 2, 2012 at 5:20 PM #

      I’m a Black Male and I agree very VERY strongly with what’s being said here. I check my privilege every day, because I HAVE benefited from being male in one way or another in my life. There is entitlement in me that is damned hard to shake but I try to shake it every day. But if I only have 15 minutes to speak to the world I would gladly give it to a sistah who needs the time to put the message forward: The institutionalized violence against women in our community is heinous and needs to be stopped. The institutionalized sexism and objecivising influences of casual misogyny must be stopped and we can never have equality of race while we do not have equality of sex. I and mine are not the center of the debate, we’re half of it, that women are so frequently ignored in these contexts drives me crazy. My narrative is EQUALLY important and that means that the narrative of a female of color deserves EQUAL billing as mine, not less. I blame the kyriarchically controlled society we make ourselves complicit too. Rock on Sistahs, keep fighting. If I can lend a hand just lemme know where.

      • The One April 7, 2012 at 12:17 AM #

        This is a good comment too.

      • ogwriter April 9, 2012 at 6:56 PM #

        As a black male of 56 years, i am still waiting for my male privilege to be delivered. if black men are so privileged why are we having to protested in the streets for justice for Trayvon? Male privilege didn’t save my brother from having to give up a pro baseball career to fight on the front lines of Viet Nam. Male privilege didn’t prevent most of the soldiers on the front line in Viet Nam from being black .Simple analogies about male privilege, that suggest that ALL MEN are the same are a joke and lack the sophistication to unpack the subtleties and nuance that fully explain the issue. For instance, lets agree that black men make the same as white men for the same job. That fact has little relevance if the job has only 5% representation by black men. Feminist make this mistake all the time in calculating equality. Another example, feminists complained that black men got the vote before women( white women) dId. Too often what feminist don’t add is that many blackmen couldn’t exercise they’re right because of physical intimidation and polls taxes.The point is that black male privilege is overrated and should judged within the context in which it exist. That Obama is the president is more a function of his courage, bravery and drive than it is black male privilege. We have seen time and again that President Obama doesn’t enjoy the same respect and therefore male privilege as a white man would get in the same job.Why is it that more black people have run for President of the United States than white women? I think most would agree it is far more dangerous for blackman to run for and be President than a white woman. yet we take these risks over and over again. Everything IVE GOT IN THIS LIFE I’VE EARNED. WHETHER IT WAS WORKING 70 HOURS A WEEK TO TAK……….E CARE OF MY FAMILY( i AM A SINGLE DAD) OR GETTING A 4.0 IN A PLACE THAT WAS DESIGNED FOR ME TO FAIL. ANY MALE PRIVILEGE i HAVE RECEIVED HAS MORE THAN BEEN SUFFICIENTLY UNDERMINED BY THIS RACIST SOCIETY IN WHICH I LIVE.

      • crunktastic April 9, 2012 at 7:55 PM #

        We are a feminist site, and that won’t change. If you find feminism to be so problematic, then I suggest that you spend your time in another blog community that supports your thinking. You will not be allowed to turn this space into a soapbox for your anti-feminist, Black male-centered views, particularly since I think you are more interested in telling us off, than earnestly engaging with us in conversation. Moreover, the grounds upon which you argue are so deeply intertwined with your own personal experience that it would be unwise for any commenter to engage you directly, as they would be wading into what is clearly a deeply emotional minefield of the personal and particular. It would be hard to disagree with you without challenging and invalidating what you have personally experienced, which means that it would be difficult to have an honest dialogue. So I advise our readers against it.


    • The One April 7, 2012 at 12:04 AM #


      • The One April 7, 2012 at 12:05 AM #

        My comment was in support of Mandisa Moore btw.

    • ogwriter April 9, 2012 at 6:24 PM #

      Really? And we should only concern ourselves with sex trafficking that affects girls?! As long as we keep doing this,separating violence and abuse based on gender, those that would destroy progressives will have an easy time of it.

      • The One April 10, 2012 at 12:48 AM #

        Yawn, yet another Black male nerd spewing his anti-Black female garbage because the hot Black girls ignored him in grade school. So tired, so played out already.

  14. Nikesha April 2, 2012 at 5:12 PM #

    i am both a supporter of the hoodie march and the slut walk.

    however as a black woman i have long realized i will have to choose with to which struggle i identify with more being Black or being female… there isn’t a majority space where the two identities co-exist.

    furthermore this article brings to mind the most famous zora neale hurston quote: “black women are the mules of the earth” for all the reasons you listed above.

    at this point i prefer to define myself and which i stand up for in terms of myself instead of in terms of a group because if i get caught up in realizing that calling myself a slut only doubles down on a stereotyped about my race’s gender, i may never stand up for my rights as a woman to walk where i please in what i please and not be harassed by some man who can’t get his head out of his head.

    • The One April 10, 2012 at 12:49 AM #

      That space (Majority BLACK FEMALE) NEEDS to be created asap!

  15. Nuala Cabral April 2, 2012 at 8:08 PM #

    If black men are in fact an endangered species – what are black women?

    And does this mean that our issues must take the backseat if Black men need to be protected and never corrected?

    Black women need allies, just like everyone else. We need women from all backgrounds to stand with us. We need black men to see the connections between our struggles, to see how they can be BOTH endangered and endangering US at the same time. Turning a blind eye to this hurts our community.

    Last wkd I wrote this status update after encountering hostility during a street team for Anti Street Harassment Week in Philly:

    “I will not be silent about gender based street harassment. And to those who try to INTIMIDATE us, SHAME us, SILENCE us for speaking out about this when “more important” issues like racial profiling hurt our men, I say: we need to challenge BOTH. I AM A BLACK WOMAN. And THIS is MY STRUGGLE TOO. Men, when will you see it as your struggle also?”

    Bottom line – we are in a struggle together. This is not a competition… so why do we fight and more importantly, how do we heal?

    • Mandy Van Deven April 4, 2012 at 6:06 AM #

      We fight because we are programmed to believe our issues are of the utmost importance and Others’ issues are either less dangerous or theirs to solve — American individualism mixed with Liberalism is a volatile combination. We must work to increase empathy and the understanding that our lives and our struggles are interconnected.

      • scatterheart April 5, 2012 at 7:39 AM #

        Mandy– right on.

      • The One April 7, 2012 at 12:21 AM #

        “We fight because we are programmed to believe our issues are of the utmost importance and Others’ issues are either less dangerous or theirs to solve”.

        If most Black women believed that then the neglect/ignoring of issues unique to Black women being pointed out here would not be the case.

  16. Amadaun April 2, 2012 at 10:49 PM #

    I was at a rally in Boston two days ago, initially planned as a simple act of solidarity with the Martin family. But as we wrote letters to MA representatives who are currently considering a “Stand Your Ground” bill and spoke about the underlying issues at hand, we moved in a direction very similar to one I see here.
    Speakers brought up cases such as Rekia Boyd, questioning why we focus so much on individuals like George Zimmerman when we have our own default of indifference to the ‘nameless ones’ to confront. We talked about the skewed ways in which the media (and social media) devalue Black lives… and we ended up chanting, “Justice for Shaima Alawadi” as well as “Justice for Trayvon Martin”. Glad to find some similar questions under the spotlight here.

  17. Christopher W. April 3, 2012 at 3:51 AM #

    I really needed to read this article. To me, the natural extension of this argument is that Black men need to start being allies to Black women more often.

    If we look at the history of the African in America, beginning with the advent of race based slavery, Black women have always been defending and supporting Black men. Who were the biggest advocates against lynching? Black women. Who spoke up when civil rights leaders were being jailed? Black women. Who stood up in the 80s (and today) when Black men were being sent to prison at alarming rates for drug crimes? Black women.

    Usually when Black men come to the aid of Black women, it’s under the guise of reinforcing a patriarchal system of us men being providers and protectors rather than an ally/defender. I’m not sure if the above is true or just my perception, but whatever the case, it’s time for us brothers to start asking Black women what they need from us, listening, and acting with the acquiescence of Black women.

  18. kandis the great April 3, 2012 at 7:42 AM #

    Reblogged this on 1/0 undefined and commented:
    very good points. interestingly enough I don’t feel compelled to march for either cause…

  19. Orville April 3, 2012 at 7:46 AM #

    This piece is well written and addresses issues that need to be discussed in the black community. I am a Canadian from Toronto where the first slut walk took place. One of the criticisms of Slut Walk is it is a white female issue. Women of colour do encounter different problems and issues than white females. Black men we should be concered and show more effort to support black women. Yes there is sexism in the black community I will not deny this fact. It seems the usual suspects Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson will mobilize around injustice involving black males very quickly.

  20. tuckom01 April 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM #

    Reblogged this on omar209.

  21. patricia lee stotter April 5, 2012 at 7:26 AM #

    right now…whether military sexual trauma, Hoodies, domestic violence,racism…I want to support those and take an all of the above approach to our first shot at maybe getting civil rights right this time…via all kinds of issues that transcend gender and race as they speak directly to them….I am delighted to see people in the streets again and even more thrilled that there is so much activism (real going on that is actually going on) that we have to make these difficult choices… and then share the thought process that led to our choices…all the while raising our own consciousness…as we share/raise others..
    thank you sister

  22. Pippi April 5, 2012 at 7:36 AM #

    Wow. This was a fascinating post to read; thankyou for writing it. My response to your final question would be, that we need to realize as a nation that police irresponsibility, and unbridled law enforcement, is a threat to everyone in this country. Just because it starts with the perpetrators picking on one area of society, doesn’t mean the rest of us can shrug and keep going. Therefore, racial profiling really isn’t a racial thing when it comes down to it. Ultimately it’s a societal problem.

    Reading the book “Clara’s Story” about the Nazi takeover was a perfect example. First it was just one or two types of Jews. Then a little more. Then the rest of them had stricter guidelines. Then stricter. Then they had to show more paperwork to avoid the roundups. And eventually, the laws got around to all of them. And more. Hitler murdered 11 million people, 6 million of them Jews. The other 5 million probably thought they were safe for a long time.

    Tyranny always finds a way. Keeping our public servants to a high standard is an issue that affects everyone, and we shouldn’t be concerned over the race of the victim.

    • crunktastic April 5, 2012 at 9:58 AM #

      I actually think race is a critical organizing principle of our society, and we should absolutely be concerned about race, in a racial system which is designed to make it impossible to see certain kinds of people as victims. Hence, the smear campaign against Trayvon Martin. So while I think your comment comes from a good place, it won’t help the struggle to think that racial profiling isn’t a racial thing. Racial issues are societal issues.

  23. Virginia Jolly April 5, 2012 at 11:17 AM #

    You are right about the privilege of having the microphone and an audience. And the desire to not alienate yourself is commendable.

    I am a white woman who was born into an age of Civil Rights and Women’s rights, both of which Dr. Martin Luther King supported (and for which I am grateful). He was in danger of stretching himself too thin, and I think that is why he is known more for the Civil Rights Movement. Other Black People and People of Color protested in their own ways: notably, Rosa Parks, who refused to sit at the back of the bus according to Jim Crow Laws decreed to dehumanize Black People.

    I stand with Feminists of all skin color, ethnicity, nationality, orientation, etc., because each in her own way has been pushed aside by society, mainly men, but often by women as well. I stand with Feminists around the world, and I participated in the Facebook challenge, “Boobquake” which supported Middle Eastern women’s choice of garments.

    Feminist white women have scandalized men and women who sought to “put them in their place”: in the home, having babies, taking care of the household, and having dinner ready for the “man of the house” when he got home from work. Oh, they could have jobs, sure–like secretary, caretaker, babysitter, nurse (who was less an RN and more of an assistant)–but don’t take a man’s job (welding, white collar, blue collar, labor, etc.) away from him. The biggest thing was, if she had a job, she still had to take care of the household and make the man’s dinner every night.

    The only way Feminists of the 1960’s, ’70’s, and ’80’s could get anywhere was to ruffle feathers. Gloria Steinem. Elizabeth Taylor. Norma Rae Webster. People who spoke out about the treatment of women in the workplace; people who spoke out about human problems like the AIDS epidemic and how it affected specific populations, like homosexual people. We as women alienated men of all colors–white especially–because there was no other way to get what we needed.

    If you find a way to get what you need without alienating others, that’s great. But if not, it’s no sin. I am behind you for standing up for what you want and need for yourself and others. There is no need to apologize for concentrating on the needs of Women of Color. I stand behind you 100 percent. I also never wanted to reclaim the word “slut”–it is a nasty word with a nasty connotation no matter when it is used. It dehumanizes anyone for which it is used. I support your humanity.

    My love to you and your cohorts.

  24. Mavis Mantis April 6, 2012 at 3:25 PM #

    Brilliant article! I agree that all women should hold “their” men’s feet to the fire. Too often we women are asked to set ourselves aside for the “greater good,” whatever that “greater good” may be. The “greater good” is different in every community, but it always has something to do with men being more important than women. Thousands of women are killed by their husbands or male partners every year, but they don’t call it sexist violence. They only call it “domestic violence,” which completely erases who the perpetrator is and what the motivation is, which is misogyny.

    I only have one small disagreement, which is with the assumption that all white women are free to casually use the word “slut.” I understand why it’s offensive to women of color, but it’s also offensive to many white women. I and many other white women have rejected SlutWalk for that reason. Many white women who are exited from the sex industy and who were abused in the sex industry have rejected SlutWalk for that reason. The word “slut” is often the last word a woman hears before she is beaten, raped or killed by a misogynistic man. And many of us white women are very well aware of that.

    But again, great article. ❤

  25. nika April 6, 2012 at 9:28 PM #

    “The Brown Boi Project is a community of masculine of center womyn, men, two-spirit people, transmen, and our allies committed to transforming our privilege of masculinity, gender, and race into tools for achieving Racial and Gender Justice.”

    “We work for Gender Justice by re-envisioning the power imbalance between traditional notions of masculinity and femininity. We hold institutional systems, other masculine people, and ourselves accountable for its accompanying privileges. We draw on a gender inclusive framework that shapes non-oppressive masculinity rooted in honor, community, and empowerment of feminine identified people, especially women and girls.”


    The voices coming from this community are helping to create space for narratives capable of holding a range of simultaneously shared AND distinct experiences of oppression, privilege, and identity.

  26. Lark Ryan April 6, 2012 at 9:42 PM #

    We need a new word. Rush Limbaugh recently reminded us that the only words for sexually active women are pejorative: slut, whore, etc. What is the term for sex-positive woman? There isn’t one. Yet. A sex-positive man (which sounds almost redundant) is called a stud, a Don Juan, a Casanova, all with a wink and a smile. I’m calling for a new word. If I want to claim my sexuality and my right to enjoy it without fear of unwanted pregnancy and, yes, expect my health insurance to help me pay for birth control, what can you call me? We need a new word. Or perhaps we can rehabilitate an old word. I propose…the antiquated term doxy. Please spread the word. With apologies to Stephen Colbert, I say that’s the word. Got a better one?


    Lark Ryan, LCSW

  27. Rochelle April 6, 2012 at 11:20 PM #

    Can we please stop saying “their” men? It totally alienates those of us who a) do not fit neatly into the black/white racial binary, b) are of mixed race or mixed heritage, or c) have interracial children or interracial relationships. It also totally reproduces a disturbing discourse that assigns the honor, purity, and survival of the nation or race into women’s bodies and their reproductive capacity. We can scrutinize the relentless and devastating social facts of race and racism without resorting to this simplistic and unhelpful reification of the social group.

    • angel macedon April 10, 2012 at 11:19 AM #

      Great call R! This oversimplification of complex relationships is a consistent problem and far too casual an occurrence in dialogue.

  28. Kristen April 7, 2012 at 4:42 PM #

    Love your post!

    I’m just wondering – what is “policing?”

  29. angel macedon April 10, 2012 at 11:16 AM #

    Questions for the feminists: Since we know that there are more women in America that are pro life than they are that are pro choice why is this issue almost always framed as a male versus female reproductive rights issue when statistics tell us it is not. Melissa- Harris Perry recently pointed out that the so called war on women was perhaps overstated since not all women feel that way and not all women even have the same politics, values or beliefs. Why do feminist consistently act as if they speak for ALL women on All issues?

    • crunktastic April 10, 2012 at 11:24 AM #

      As I told you yesterday, you (despite the name change) will not be allowed to turn this space into a referendum against feminism. All further comments are banned.

  30. Joy April 14, 2012 at 7:22 AM #

    Let us not forget the simple human aspect to this issue. Many people are so tied-up with their own lives if they choose to take on a social issue; it is often because it is of imminent importance to them on a large identifiable scale.

    Let’s ask this question: When someone (not Black) on the street sees a Black woman walk past what do you think their mind identifies first, Black person or female?

    Now ask that same question about a someone whom is Black.

    Now also ask the same question of those on an international level.

  31. jjoneluv April 18, 2012 at 7:54 PM #

    Well, I see why the author would claim racism is more potent for her because that’s the foundation of our society. It pained me to read when women like Elizabeth C. Stanton and Susan B. Anthony rightfully called out sexism, but would then talk about black men – where were greatly despised by white men – for being able to vote rather than white women. Why did they have to appeal to such divisive if the same source mistreated them? Why didn’t they bring up black women being raped by their husbands, fathers, and friends within their writings?

    If a black female wants to say racism is worst, she has the right to do so. Yes, we women get mistreated at times, but being a woman of color is to be dehumanized as well as our men. Feminists rightfully complain about sex female representation, but how would white women feel if their mistreatment stemmed from their race and sex, with the former trumping the latter? I don’t like how many black men feel about black women’s issues at time, but I know where they’re coming from. I almost lost my father two years ago because he was held at gunpoint by the cops for looking “suspicious”. When you know that your skin color always makes you suspect in the eyes of power, no gender, no sexuality, and no class can hide you from that. If only you knew…


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