Search results for 'Somewhere between Black Power and White Rage '

Umoja means Unity!

26 Dec

Today is the first day of Kwanzaa and I am having a few friends and family over to celebrate Umoja, which means UNITY.  I was first introduced to Kwanzaa as a child when my mother volunteered me to work the slideshow at a black arts museum in Atlanta.  I was so irritated then, but I am so thankful now.  Now that I am a full grown Black feminist I want to take the opportunity to reflect on CFC posts from 2011 that I think of as part of Nguzo Saba–Seven Principles of Kwanzaa.

Image

Image taken from http://www.lasentinel.net/UserFiles/File/122211/1Kwanzaa-kinara.jpg

UMOJA means Unity and it is my favorite day because it is simple.  Gather together and rejoice, remember, and recommit yourself to your ancestors, friends, family and community.  There are four posts highlighting this principle of unity on several levels from the very intimate to mass organizing.  They demonstrate the power of unity to change our world and our-selves.

Feminism 101 for Girls A Report Back

The Revolution Televised

Somewhere between Black Power and White Rage

KUJICHAGULIA means self-determine/self determination and this is my second favorite day (you will start to see a pattern) because I love saying koo-jee-jha-koo-lee-ah.  I also love it because I believe that is the greatest gift of black feminism.  Through Audre Lorde I learned the importance of naming/defining oneself and the power of determining your path for yourself.  The following are posts that I admired and taught this year precisely because I believe they express this principle.

Praise the Lorde

The Zen of Young Money

Ode to Dark Skinned Girls

UJIMA is really my favorite because I am a fan of collaboration and service in all areas of life.  It means “collective work and responsibility” and this is something we at the CFC truly believe in.  It is not enough to think about change, we must act! Whether is it recognizing the importance of care/self-care, the necessity of organizing, all of our responsibility to support mothers (parents) in childcare, or fighting to defend our right to exist—we must Act!  Troy Davis we continue to speak your name.

Image

The Immediate Need for Emotional Justice

Musings on the day after Mother’s Day

Lynching Remixed

UJAMAA is cooperative economics and this year it wins my CFC “top choice award” because without this community supporting our vision for doing a workshop specifically to introduce feminism to girls we would not have been to do it (meaning provide resources, goodie bag, and a healthy meal) for 10 teenage black girls in Atlanta.  When there are so many people undervaluing the importance of girls, particularly black girlhood, you supported us and let us know that there are many around the globe that do value girls.  For that we sincerely thank you.  We must continue to support one another financially and emotionally in our immediate communities as well as our virtual ones.

Feminism 101 for Girls

A Love Poem for Single Mothers

Help Support “To the Other Side of Dreaming”

‘Tis the season for a different type of giving”

NIA means purpose.  My mother took this name a few years ago (favorite).  I believe that this day is about being bold, being reflective and being open to listen to voices that you may not usually hear in order to move forward with “inclusive” political purpose for advancing justice in the lives of so many people who are marginalized and exploited.

Conflict is forever

Confessions of a Backslider

From Margin to Center: Health for Brown Bois

KUUMBA is the best because it means creativity and the only way to be a united, self-determined, collective, cooperative, purposeful, person is to bring your full creative (free) self to everything you do, and I do mean EVERYTHING!

Image

How talking to your girls can liberate your sex life

Sexy, Self-conscious, Sanctified, Sassy & Single

It Gets Wetter

10 Crunk things for spring

IMANI means faith.  Faith is what I wish for each of you as we journey into this brand new year.  Have faith in yourself and your abilities and your community and your spiritual source.  You have everything that you need.  Trust yourself.  I feel blessed to be part of this community and I have faith that in this community we are doing good work.

The Joys of Being a Black woman

We Created A Circle

Image

Love Overflow: A Red Reflection (and a Trigger Warning… SMH)

14 Feb

It’s early on Valentine’s Day, an invented holiday by U.S. greeting card companies (for real, look it up!). I just learned about Too Short’s “Fatherly Advice” to young boys about how to “turn girls out” in a video for XXL. While this is not shocking for Too Short, it also speaks to the culture we live in, where encouraging boys to rape girls is not something that automatically trips the “do not post/publish” kill switch. This is not a question of individuals’ values, as the hastily drafted XXL apology suggests, but indicative of a culture so steeped in misogynoir (Black women hatred) that our humanity is not assumed. As satisfying as it might be to see the editor fired on whose watch this occurred, it’s so much bigger than her. In this country, girls are objects, things to be manipulated for boys’ pleasure. And boys are getting fatherly advice that sets them up to see girls as agentless tools for their own desires.

On a day, where love=consumerism, we wanted to offer a counter narrative, one of self- love, intimate love, intergenerational love between mothers and children, a recentering of the type of love that can be celebrated. This takes on a profound new significance in the harsh light of  yet another reminder from a culture that doesn’t value Black girls (or Black boys) enough to say that they deserve to be safe.

And so yet again, we will do it ourselves. We will create the world we want to see. A world where kids of all genders (there are more than two) don’t feel forced to fit into two boxes that are predestined to join in some heteronornative, f*ucked up abuser/victim celebration on this day (that is made up!). The CFC wants to support children of all genders dealing with the “late middle school, early high school” years in an awesomely sex and body positive way. We want young people (and Lorde, help these adults!) to come correct, to make decisions about their sexuality with all the information and agency they need.

We encourage readers to support this project and others that remind us that we can create new narratives that challenge the old. We can reclaim this day as a celebration for the greatest love of all.

with love overflowing,

Moya

Love Overflow: A Red Reflection

by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

“When you first realize your blood has come, smile; an honest smile, for you are about to have an intense union with your magic.”

“from Marvelous Menstruating Moments in Ntozake Shange’s book Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo (As told by Indigo to Her Dolls as She Made Each and Every One of Them a Personal Menstruation Pad of Velvet)”

From Awkward to Abundant: A Community Supported Miracle

Next month my mother and I are launching the newest groundbreaking workshop in ourThicker Than Whatever: Unstoppable Mother/Daughter Relationshipsseries:  LoveOverflow: Marvelous Menstruating Moments!  This process has caused my mother and I to look deeply at what a black feminist personal political economy of menstruation might look like in our ideal communities. This workshop is our inspired practice towards transforming intergenerational silence and shame into action and power.  We love each other too much to make the awkwardness of talking about bodies, sexuality, gender identity and blood a barrier to our fully expressed support and love!  In order to make sure this beautiful day is accessible for free to the amazing visionary black mamas and daughters in our organizing community we are reaching out to our whole worldwide community to support the costs of this program.  If you love this idea and find it healing that this type of space can exist we’d love your support!  You can chip in here:

http://alexispauline.chipin.com/love-overflow-marvelous-menstruating-moments-mamadaughter-workshop

Beyond Books: Tangible Practices for Embodied Love

So when mamas across my organizing community in North Carolina started talking about their complex and juicy emotions about their daughters beginning their periods, often earlier than they had began theres and  one of the Indigo Afterschoolers started her period afterschool at my house (how lucky we were to have Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo on hand to create a ritual right away!) what they spoke to was a need wider and deeper than a booklist.

Our Saturday program LoveOverflow comes from a core desire to create spaces to work through the questions, challenges and insecurities of all ages that the bright and deeply felt physical event of menstruation brings up in our communities.  We need rituals of ongoing affirmation.   So first Saturday in March my mom will be facilitating my mama comrades in working through the residual energy of their own early period experiences, their fears around their kids growing and changing and to create a mantra for everyday use that reminds them of their true love, passionate belief and inspired clarity about their daughters to refer to in hard times.   And I will be facilitating the younger folks, using art practices to draw through their questions, excitements and fears and helping them to individually create their own embodied and spiritual definitions of their menstruation experiences and rituals for how they want to honor themselves and create safe space monthly from here on out.   And THEN we will be bringing everyone back together for a ritual of affirmation, there will be circles and witnessing, lavender hand baths (our favorite), whispered poems and listening and love.   I know that this experience will be memorable for the participants and profoundly healing for my mother and I.

Not (Always) So Marvelous

My mama and I are so excited to bring our love and commitment (and the generative genius of Ntozake Shange’s words) to the community of black mothers and daughters here in Durham who have been bringing up the drama of the period…period of puberty and asking for support!  However when we started thinking about our own experiences blossoming into red, we realized that our first experiences and many subsequent experiences were not so marvelous, and for similar reasons.

I can’t quite remember my first period experience.  I know that I was about 14 and just starting high school.  Long ago in elementary school I had, along with my peers been giving a pretty illustrated book called “Period: A Girl’s Guide to Menstruation” and I remembered the affirming, reassuring and calming images from that book.   My first period experience was pretty painless, but after that I began to have intense-wake-you-up-out-your-sleep cramps.  I realize now that for years I ignored my own experiences of PMS, secretly wondering if I

a. needed a new life free from all of the people I knew

b. was experiencing the onset of one of the many mental illnesses in my mother’s psychology textbooks

Ultimately I assimilated my period as an intellectual experience without ceremony.  Like many other experiences since, my period was okay, and almost understandable because I had read about it somewhere.

It’s only this past weekend that I realized that my mother’s experience was similar to mine.  Growing up in Jamaica with an elderly grand-aunt who treated my mother’s period as something dirty to be ashamed of, my mother’s lifeline was a book that her mother sent.   My grandmother was a domestic worker in England paid to mother privileged white folks, and my mother remembers being upset and disappointed that all she had to help her through her transition and the complicated belts and napkins that accompanied it was this book.   She wanted her mother to be there herself to help her through.

And while I remember my mother being very sympathetic to the pain I endured (and continue to endure) on the first day of my period, we didn’t have many rituals or mechanisms to deal with the teenage angst and how impatient we could be with each other during period time at our house.   Luckily, we’ve learned a lot from our volatile journey through my teen years, and my mom now has stories full of advice to share with her therapy clients, all ending with something like..see and after all that my daughter still turned out great and we have a wonderful relationship today!

The bottom line is what our composite intergenerational period story shows is that ceremonyand presence are key elements of the growing time of menstruation that we both longed for and are excited to make more possible and accessible in the lives of young people and their parents today.

A Gender Diverse Approach

Even though the participants in our upcoming workshop identify as black mothers and daughters, in this workshop it is important for us to honor the fact that gender is in transformation and that while some people see their period as a symbolic opportunity to reflect on “becoming women,” becoming ourselves is a more complicated and gender diverse experience.   Gender is unpredictable and people of many different genders can experience menstruation.   We want the participants in this workshop, especially the youth, to have access to the knowledge that menstruating can be part of a process of becoming an intentionally creative person who releases negative energy and creates time and rituals for love of self, period.  It does not have to be a feminine or feminizing experience unless that is what they want it to be.    Towards this end we are in the midst of a wisdom drive collecting insights that people of many genders have learned from their experiences menstruating.   If you are interested in sharing an insight for our LoveOverflow depth of wisdom pool please email us at lexandpauline@gmail.com with the subject “LoveOverflow.”

Again…if you love this idea, spread the word to folks you know to donate their wisdom and/or dollars to the project!

http://alexispauline.chipin.com/love-overflow-marvelous-menstruating-moments-mamadaughter-workshop

Love,

Lex

Somewhere Between Black Power and White Rage

25 Oct

There have been several public “events” privileging race, gender, and class during the past weeks in New York City that featured prominent Black feminists.  After the film screening of The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, the conference about Anita Hill 20 Years Later: Sex, Power and Speaking the Truth, and the Occupy Wall Street  movement based in Zucotti Park/Liberty Square, I  wanted to mark how Black womanhood and Black feminist thought are positioned.

The Black Power Mixtape, 1967-1975

The Swedish film is an incredible compilation or mixtape that chronicles the US Black freedom movement by arranging interviews, speeches, and snapshots of activists and urban Black life. The most compelling moments include Black women. There is one scene, for example, when Stokely Carmichael (Kwame Ture) sits on an apartment floor boyishly looking up at his mother Mable.  In a “play” interview, he presses her to describe the intersections between race and class. It is a humorous, affectionate exchange that complements the defiant image of Carmichael championing Black power. Carmichael’s fiery rhetoric at the beginning is matched by Angela Davis’ cool midway through the film when she responds to a question about armed resistance. Davis recalls the 1963 Birmingham church bombings when

Picture of  four Black girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson, and Denise McNair who were killed by the Klan during the 1963 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham, Alabama

1963 Birmingham Klan bombing that killed four Black girls

neighborhood girls Addie Mae, Cynthia, Carole and Denise were brutally murdered by white supremacists.  She places her personal recollection within a context of ongoing racial terrorism experienced by African descended people. In one story Davis reveals American hypocrisy. In one story she creates an emotional bridge to connect with the film so the audience could better understand the complexities of Black America then and now.  (The CFs in the audience echoed, “that’s Black feminism for you.”)

The Davis and Carmichael interviews are followed by a third moment, which is the most unsettling part of the film because I am left hanging, wondering what to do with a local teary-eyed young Black woman who describes how she has had to wrestle with her drug addiction after a family member sexually assaults her as a child. In the midst of the Black power movement, we are invited to read her story as part of “the ghetto” and hear the PSA-like radio voice-over about premature babies from drug-addicted mothers as hers. The film explains drug abuse by Black male Vietnam veterans who return home disillusioned, homeless and unemployed, and it illustrates gender-specific forms of (sexual) violence experienced by Black men who are tortured during the Attica uprising, but there is no commentary, no gender framework to really see her or other dazed Black women shooting up in an abandoned New York apartment. In fact, if we are to gather any meaning at all from the voice-over, street footage, and her interview, we might believe that she has failed her family and by extension the Black community—ideas echoed by the news media a decade later when audiences are re-introduced to the bad Black woman as the crack-welfare-mother.  That the director-editor, Goran Hugo Olsson, opted to let saturated images of the ghetto “speak for itself” while admittedly letting go of the archived footage of the landmark 1972 Presidential Candidate, Shirley Chisolm, suggests specific discussions about gender added an unwanted complexity to the Black power he envisioned.

Anita Hill 20 Years Later: Sex, Power and Speaking the Truth

The daylong conference began with sessions about Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during the confirmation hearings of then US Supreme Court nominee, Clarence Thomas. The Sex and Justice film excerpt and morning sessions were followed by lunch discussions about sexual harassment in the military, on the streets, and in schools, and a keynote about home with Hill herself.  Hill asked (and I paraphrase), “Is there a way to Race-ing Justice Engendering Powertalk about race that isn’t so male dominated?” Hours before Hill posed this question I asked myself, is it possible to talk about gender on a national scale that isn’t so white identified? I had come to the conference to learn more about Hill specifically and about Black feminist thought in general (as the tag was “an all day conference about race and gender identity”).  I got it even though it felt sandwiched between a kind of deracialized gender, which eclipsed the intersectionality so many women of color emphasized.  Long before Kimberlé Crenshaw reminded us about intraracial resistance to Hill and other Black women who dared to air dirty laundry, and before Melissa Harris Perry offered us her exacting critique about respectability and the reception of The Help, a New York college instructor leaned over to school the Black-girl-too-young-to-remember about the Thomas-Hill hearings. Pulling out her Black feminist good book, Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power, my informal Black feminist instructor suggested Hill had been embraced by white feminists because Thomas seemed less threatening to their social standing than the white men who systematically harassed Black women in the workplace.  From my back-seat instructor to the panelists on stage, it would appear the symbolic body of Hill was still very much in the making. At the daylong conference, Hill stood (in) as a testament to interracial feminist solidarity, “front line” Black feminist mobilization, and white feminist cooptation (for at least one sistah in the audience).

 

Occupy Wall Street

Occupy Wall Street has been characterized as white middle class rage against the capitalist machine. Prior to the Harlem march where folks from Liberty Park joined activists of color to protest the stop-and-frisk policies that disproportionately targeted Black and Latino persons, communities of color insisted the “occupiers” reconsider language (e.g., replace occupy to decolonize) and reconsider tactics, such as voluntarily camping in spaces that displaced homeless persons.   The first time I went to Liberty Park, Black folks peppered the space. We were mainly on the margins, taking up space on the steps and the stone parameters of the blue tarp makeshift community.

The physical make up of the protestors at the Park and on the street during the Manhattan marches appeared to be the same, yet the meetings and talks I attended attempted to be inclusive and intentionally anti-racist even in the absence of a lot of colored folk. (See Greg Tate’s Top 10 Reasons Why So Few Black Folks Appear Down to Occupy Wall Street.) And just like I stayed at the Hill conference, I came back to Liberty Park because I wanted to hear an amazing Black intellectual, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, explain capitalism’s connection to group exclusion, criminalization, and racialized labor. When Gilmore evoked CLR James,  she reminded me of another Trinidadian thinker, Kwame Ture (Stokely Carmichael), that I had seen weeks earlier in the Black Power Mixtape. Immediately after Gilmore’s talk, I walked upstairs to see a remarkable scene for which I still have no meaning.  To my left, Rev. Jesse Jackson was surrounded by a small group of men with studio cameras and a spotlight.  To my right, the actor Rev. Billy began his popular street performance as the crowd circled. Onlookers held up camera phones to record the spectacle of the Black-led choir and the Reverend, who dramatically preached about the evils of consumerism. Each had a platform at Liberty Square to talk about economic justice, however, their messages were digested and distributed differently. Jesse was on my left, Billy was on the right, and Ruth (or Ruthie if you know her) was somewhere in between…

I Saw the Sign but Did We Really Need a Sign?: SlutWalk and Racism

6 Oct

I want to be in solidarity with Slutwalk. I really do.  But my knees are getting weak. It’s inspiring to see women coming together to protest the all-too-real threat and reality of rape and to reclaim our right to define and exercise our respective sexualities outside the context of patriarchy. I dig all that. But I do not dig seeing signs like that held up by Erin Clark and Kelly Hannah Peterlinz at Slutwalk NYC that said “Woman Is the Nigger of the World.”

I've added this 2nd pic since a commenter wants to dispute who was holding the sign. Clearly, too many damn people held the sign.

I do not dig debating with young white feminists late into the night about white privilege and having other Black women in the thread have to call out the supposed anti-racist feminists for not speaking up, for yet again forcing Black women to do the exhausting work of teaching. I do not dig being told on the interwebs, –tumblr, other blogs, the Slutwalk NYC FB page–that Black women are being hyper-sensitive and divisive. I do not dig being intellectually insulted with the assertion that I simply didn’t understand “Yoko and John’s intent.” As if. Y’all know that saying about intentions and well, perhaps you should also recognize that we are long past the point of talking about intent when we talk about racism. We should be talking about impact. (Rest in Power to the venerable Dr. Derrick Bell, father of Critical Race Theory, whom we have to thank for that little insight.) Intent is about individual relationships and hurt feelings; impact is about systems of power and their impact on material realities.

But let me tell you, for the record, what I do and don’t understand (all at the same time):

  • (Why) White folks love the n-word and they keep trying to find a way to use it. And ain’t nobody fooled by these claims of confusion, because for some reason that confusion about off-limits terminology doesn’t extend to those terms reclaimed by Jewish communities, LGBTQ communities, or people with disabilities. Only to the n-word.
  • (Why) Black women and the fact that we are always Black and female at exactly the same time is a fact that continues to elude white women. That I’m making this observation in 2011 makes me wonder if it is in fact 1969, the same year that Frances Beale created the Third World Women’s Alliance. Any person who defends this song based on historical context or otherwise clearly has not grappled with the ways that Black women’s gendered experiences of Blackness make the conflation of “woman as nigger” an untenable category.
  • (Why) The organizers of Slutwalk are genuninely baffled that this happened in the first place. To organize a movement around the reclamation of a term is in and of itself an act of white privilege.  To not make explicit and clear the privilege and power inherent in such an act is to invite less-informed folks with privilege (in other words, folks who know just enough to be dangerous) to assume that reclamation can be applied universally. If Black folks’ collective track record at reclamation is any indication, clearly based on Erin Clark’s sign, the n-word reclamation is a #majorfail. Even if we look at Black women and feminism, “womanism,” Alice Walker’s attempt to create cultural and discursive space for Black women within feminism, by all academic accounts remains the stepchild of viable feminist identifications.
  • (Why) The debates over the reclaiming of “slut,” and “nigger,” and the racial elements of those debates are absolutely parallel to debates over the claiming of the term “feminism” itself.

If we thought of the history of feminist movement building as a battle over terms,  what we would find is that every major battle over terms and the rights and identities attached to them have always had the same damn problem: the racial politics, like the Black women implicated in them, have been fucked. “Suffrage” didn’t include all women. (Just ask Ida B. Wells how she felt about marching at the back of the 1913 suffrage march.)  “Woman” is not a universal experience. (Sojourner Truth anyone?) “Nigger” is not a catchall term for oppression. (Ask Pearl Cleage) Feminism is not a universal organizing category. (Ask bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith, Fran Beale, and on and on) And “slut” is not the anchor point of a universal movement around female sexuality, no matter how much global resonance it has.  (Ask a Hip Hop Generation Feminist).

Alice Walker said recently:

“I’ve always understood the word “slut” to mean a woman who freely enjoys her own sexuality in any way she wants to; undisturbed by other people’s wishes for her behavior. Sexual desire originates in her and is directed by her. In that sense it is a word well worth retaining. ” (Source)

Clearly, from a strictly pro-sex  perspective, I could see why it would be attractive to reclaim this word. And within Black communities, certainly there is, like in most other communities, a tacit shaming of “loose women” and a strident investment in women being “good girls and ladies.” Still, slut-shaming has particular resonance for white women, whose sexuality has largely been constructed based upon middle-class, often Christian, heteronorms of proper chaste womanhood. The positive referent about chastity against which slut becomes the negative referent has never been universally available to Black women.  A Black woman who “freely enjoys hers own sexuality” has been called “jezebel, hoochie, hoodrat, ho, freak, and perhaps, slut.”  In other words, “slut” is merely part of a constellation of terms used to denigrate Black female sexuality; it is not at the center of how our particular sexuality has been constructed.

But “sluttiness” and “slut-shaming” around sexuality are in fact, central to white women’s experiences of sexuality. So to start a movement around that word is to inherently to place white women and their experiences at the center.   To actually be able to materially reclaim “slut,” however much one has been slut-shamed is to have the power to work within a universe of multiple meanings in which both committed chastity and casual coitus, and everything in between, are understood as sexual options. For Black women, our struggles with sexuality are to find the space of recognition that exists between the hypervisibility of our social construction as hoes, jezebels, hoochies, and skanks, and the invisibility proffered by a respectability politics that tells us it’s always safer to dissemble. To reclaim slut as an empowered experience of sexuality does not move Black women out of these binaries. We are always already sexually free, insatiable, ready to go, freaky, dirty, and by consequence, unrapeable.  When it comes to reclamations of sexuality, in some senses, Black women are always already fucked.

Thus, the politics of reclaiming slut expose the fault lines that exist between the discursive, the material, and the symbolic. And the degree to which slut reclaiming will be placed in any of these categories is necessarily determined by the power and privilege that each slutwalker has. If Black women’s discursive acts cannot change our material realities with regard to our sexuality, then our actions become merely symbolic. Our actions will come to exist only in the realm of representation. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. For Black women do have agency. Our voices do matter, and our interventions will contour this mo(ve)ment, though we are unsure yet, just what those contours will look like. But our commitment to discursive acts must be measured, by our histories, by our material realities, by the psychic and social costs and the attendant benefits of such acts for improving the quality of our (sex) lives. We are long past the point of putting our own bodies on the line for political acts that improve white women’s lives while leaving the rest of us in the dust.

So when I look at Black women, like the Black female organizer of Slutwalk NYC who was asked to ask Erin Clark to take down her sign, I see us doing what we’ve always done—taking a broad view of movements that have clear red flags when it comes to inclusion in order to serve the greater good of women. While white women often want to deploy “woman” as a universal category and have the nerve to get angry and defensive when Black women like myself point out differences in our experiences, it is Black women themselves who have demonstrated what it really means to care about women as a group. For we put our bodies and our psyches on the line to show up at events called “Slutwalks” knowing that we are both more vulnerable to the same violence that brought other women there and yet that we have little social privilege and power to reclaim the terms in the ways that many of the others marchers do. But we show up anyway, and in showing up, white women feel like they are being inclusive, when in fact, I would argue that most Black women, are showing up in spite of, not because of, Slutwalk’s inclusivity.

So, too, our histories with feminism. It is because white women inherently kept gatekeeping the right to determine the forms and agenda of feminist movement building that Alice Walker felt so compelled to create womanism, that Barbara Smith and the members of Combahee had to articulate what Black feminism looked like, that Fran Beale and the members of the TWWA had to articulate what a third world feminism looked like, that Gloria Anzaldua had to articulate what a Chicana feminism looked like.

In light of these observations, some argue that the movement is not primarily about the terms.  But that assertion is belied by the fact that the organizers continue to organize under the term even though it clearly has some problems with inclusion.  Despite the calls from Black Women’s Blueprint that the movement be “re-branded” these marches are going to continue to be called “slut walk” because frankly the term is catchy, it was and is used against all kinds of women in violent ways, and many of the women who participate still find the notion of a universal female experience of oppression narratively compelling. Hence, Erin Clark’s sign. The protestations of Black women and other women of color are at best an inconvenient nuisance to an otherwise sexy exercise and at worst seen as divisive and potentially derailing. The reality though is that every feminist I’ve talked with about this sees the potential for good in SlutWalk, hence our cautious optimism, hesitant solidarity (but solidarity nonetheless), and our willingness to spend our time offering our critiques.

A little Ace of Base (throwback joint) is appropriate here:

“I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes

I saw the sign

Life is demanding without understanding

I saw the sign and it opened up my eyes

I saw the sign

No one is gonna drag you up to get into the light where you belong.”

Word. The challenge now SlutWalk is how will you respond?

For some other great reads on SlutWalk from feminists we admire and respect here at the CFC, check out:

Aishah Shahidah Simmons, speaker at SlutWalk Philly: here.

Salamishah Tillet, speaker at SlutWalk DC: here.

Akiba Solomon, at Colorlines: here.

Andreana Clay, at QueerBlackFeminist: here.


%d bloggers like this: