Has the rise of Black Feminism unified or divided Black men and women?
Every member of the Pan-African Alliance understands that there is only one crime punishable by expulsion – promoting disunity among our people. Every other shortcoming, from miseducation and ignorance to moral faults can be dealt with.
We do not look down on others for not being “perfect” Pan-Africans. And we believe that we dont have to be uniformed in our opinion to be unified in our intention.
However, when an individual seeks to divide and destroy the unity of our people, that person does so intentionally and therefore must be held to the harshest standards of accountability.
We know that unity is one of the biggest problems we face in the Black community, and so ideas and practices that seek to further divide and destroy us must be examined and corrected.
We also know, thanks to the works of Dr. Frances Cress Welsing that sex can be used as a weapon to maintain white supremacy over Black men and women.
Many of our sisters have become “Black Feminists”, and many brothers have become “Sex-negative” or “anti-sex” feminists. This relatively new movement promises a more “conscious” and less “oppressive” atmosphere for those who choose to exercise their identities in ways that mainstream society may not recognize. But in the context of Black Consciousness, is this movement responsible for the unification or the further division of the Black man and woman – the two elements that make up the Black survival unit known as the family?
If we are to protect ourselves from the weapons of white supremacy and begin to heal ourselves from the wounds that these weapons have inflicted, we must understand how those weapons came into play in the first place, as well as how they are used in contemporary settings. Therefore, all of us must understand where feminism came from and how it is being used as a tool to keep us confused, divided, conquered, and fighting amongst ourselves.
Lets start at the beginning….
A Short History of Black Feminism
Feminism, as defined by the Webster’s New World Dictionary is “1. the principle that women should have political, economic, and social rights equal to those of men; 2. the movement to win these rights.” The term was created by a male French philosopher in 1872 who believed in a perfect, Utopian world. The world during the late 19th and early 20th century was a place where power was concentrated in the hands of white men. It was feminism that sought to bring balance to this concentration of power by granting women the right to participate in politics, parenting, and economic advancement (to include expanded job opportunities and property rights).
The “First Wave” of feminism began when white women banded together to demand a share of power, and the opportunity to fully and equally participate as members of society. Organizations like the the National American Woman Suffrage Association (comprised entirely of white women that denied membership to Black Women) drafted and pressured congress to pass the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1919, granting all women the right to vote. It is important to note that all Blacks were granted the right in 1870, but were blocked from doing so in practice the end of Jim Crow laws. Black women, however, suffered from both racism and sexism, and so received virtually none of the benefits of the women’s suffrage movement.
In 1954, Blacks in America mustered together enough political and legal power to overturn school segregation(Brown v. Board of Education – Topeka, 1954) kicking off the Civil Rights Movement. One of the most important pieces of legislation was the 1964 Civil Rights Act, originally drafted to end Jim Crow laws once and for all. However, the bill was hijacked by white feminist organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW) to advance opportunities for white women as well as all other minorities. The hijacking of the Civil Rights movement by white feminists began the “Second Wave” of feminism.
Once again, Black women found themselves left out and unrepresented in the white feminist movement but were still able to secure power for their race. Women like Rosa Parks, Daisy Bates, Mary Mcleod Bethune, and Rev. Dr. Prathia Hall (who was the inspiration for Dr. King’s I Have A Dream Speech) helped make the movement successful. Six of the “Little Rock Nine” were women, and thousands of unnamed and unknown women spilled their blood alongside Black men to secure a better future for the entire race – not just for their gender.
But whereas organizations like Stokely Carmichael’s Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)’s encouraged Black female leadership, the Black Panther Party and other smaller Black Power organizations restricted women from positions of leadership.
Assata Shakur and Angela Davis found themselves being subjected to the same forms of oppression that they found in the white world. Disenchanted with their subordinate role in the Black Power movement, and unwelcome in the white women’s suffrage movement, Black women set out to define their own place in the world. Thus, the “Third Wave” of feminism emerged.
Rather than serving to bridge the divide between Black male and female relations and their equality in a white supremacist society, Black Feminism became a perpetuation of the same miseducated thinking that led to the destruction of Black civilization.
The Black Power movement sought to set Blacks free from the harmful influences of white society. Black Feminism saw integration into that society and the adoption of white values as a way to achieve equality. Ideas concerning race and sex gave rise to those who believed that there are no inherent differences between the sexes and that gender roles were created by social conditioning.
Black Feminism evolved as white supremacists began to change their tactics to cope with the rise of Black Consciousness. The Black Feminist movement was fertile ground for several weapons of white supremacy, including miscegenation, integration, miseducation, sex, and eugenics. With reproductive rights being a cornerstone of the Feminist movement, Planned Parenthood launched an all out campaign to encourage Black women to voluntarily participate in eugenics.
White supremacists also saw the destruction of the community as an important factor in destroying the Black Power movement at large. Black communities were flooded with drugs by the same governments that unleashed an army of police officers to disproportionately prosecute Black men and imprison them for decades – thus leaving women to single-handedly raise children while working to cover the income lost by the male of the household.
These circumstances produced “independent women”, who came to spite the Black man missing from the family unit, and the “career woman”, who bypassed having children to attend college and climb the corporate ladder in white owned companies. Some Black feminists turned to lesbianism to have their intimate needs met. Others abandoned Black men entirely to enter interracial relationships.
All of these results played perfectly into the tactics of white supremacy, whose original goal was to prevent the rise of a unified Black movement that could destabilize the concentration of power in white hands.
Today, Black feminism has evolved into a movement that sets Black women against Black men, promotes both violence and victim-hood, spreads extremist thinking, and that demonstrates white supremacy in action. Here’s how.
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