The African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) wants to talk and write about feminism and patriarchy about as much as feminists want us to talk and write about it─which is zero.
We would rather spend all of our time engaged in solving the problems of our class; organizing African women to combat colonialism, which threatens our participation in the African liberation struggle.
We are forced to, however, make critiques of the subjective petit bourgeois nature of feminism because it is a divisive, unproductive political line that leads African women away from African liberation and toward an unrealistic stance of self-preservation under white power imperialism.
ANWO is a confusing organization for many feminists and feminist leaning activists, because while we are in favor of equality of African women on one hand; we are against colonialism in all of its forms including in the form of petit bourgeois feminism which puts forth the position that patriarchy is the primary barrier for African women.
Patriarchy, as problematic as it may be, is not the core contradiction. It can be overturned with political education in the form of discussions and, from time to time, physical resistance.
Colonialism, on the other hand, cannot be reasoned with. Its very existence is at the expense of the lives and lands of many of the world’s peoples regardless of age, gender, political alignment, class or religion.
Therefore, ANWO understands that patriarchy is undesirable; as we continue to critique feminist conclusions that prioritize ending patriarchy over all other things, because we understand that an equal society cannot be achieved under the parasitic exploitative system of capitalist colonialism.
Only the African revolution can bring about an equal society
What we do instead is build toward a revolution. In that process of building a new socialist society where African workers have control of the State, we are challenged and transformed through criticism and self-criticism, dialectical materialism, combating liberalism, engaging in struggle and forwarding the leadership of African women, as a practice.
Alternatively, feminism encourages equality in order to maintain the status quo within the existing parasitic social structure.
For example, it has African women fighting for equal pay for “women”, while oppressor nation women continue to earn more than African, Indigenous and Latinx men and women in the U.S.
So essentially, colonized oppressed people within the U.S. colony are fighting just to catch up to white women, while white women are fighting to be equal to white men.
Patriarchy cannot explain this dichotomy, nor can it explain the many other issues that affect poor working class colonized people.
Patriarchy does not explain the overrepresentation of the African prisoners in the U.S., Europe and Canada; State violence; the overrepresentation African children kidnapped by the State; dumpster babies; neocolonialism; infant and maternal death; poor healthcare; food deserts; gentrification; ethnic cleansing; and proxy wars.
Feminists are confused about privilege, patriarchy and oppression
The fact that feminism cannot explain the world confuses even feminists themselves. Feminism does not provide an analysis for oppression, colonialism or violence, even though violence seems to be the primary basis for the creation of a black feminist.
A self-identified feminist initiated a struggle with Party member, Dexter Mlimwengu, after he made a critique of Angela Davis on a social media post. What resulted was a stream of strawman arguments, used by feminists, to defend their position that African men benefit from white power.
The feminist tried to make a point about oppression, which lobbed all forms of internal colonized oppression on African men.
When Dexter presented her with the variations of violence that happen amongst the colonized giving the example of “cishet” African women “oppressing” queer African women, the feminist says, “we do, but in a power structure, it doesn’t do anything. Like a black person being “racist” to a white person.”
To which Dexter asked, “but if their “oppressing” doesn’t do anything then they are not really oppressing. So black women are incapable of oppressing but black men oppress black women?”
The reality is that oppressive violence is a symptom of colonialism. Colonized people engage in violence at much higher rates than if we were not colonized, because of the forced contained conditions that are in place to control us.
This is how we explain the African mother who kills her children or the African trans man who beats his girlfriend, or the African teenage girl who stabs and kills her classmate.
Colonial conditions breeds violence. Colonialism is not the creation of African men it is the creation of white power, imperialism to maintain control of the colonized.
African men cannot therefore, benefit from white power when they are victims of it.
The feminist could not contend with this line of questioning and attempted to retreat from the discussion when the comrades deepened the question of African male privilege and oppression.
Confused about privilege, patriarchy and oppression
There is no such thing as African male privilege
Does male privilege then save us from getting gunned down by the pigs?
Does male privilege work when white women yell rape and the next thing you know, there’s a lynch mob at the door?
Did African men get whipped less [and African women more] on the plantation? Did African men get to be in the house while African women were outside?
Does male privilege keep African men from being stuffed into prisons?
Perhaps it was male privilege that crushed the Black Revolution of the ‘60s too, right?
Where is my so-called male privilege to grant me power over judges, the police, the courts, the schools, the banks? How does one begin to organize to defeat “male privilege”, since this seems to be the fundamental issue?
Colonialism, imperialism, and parasitic capitalism be damned! It’s “male privilege” that snatches African women’s children away and places them in foster care.
It’s ‘male privilege’ that has distorted the relationships between African men and women – not centuries of oppression.
How do you define how you, a black woman, ended up in this country? Do you say that “male privilege” did that?
This “male privilege” that African men supposedly has didn’t come into effect when we were being stuffed on to those slave ships, same as African women.
It did nothing for us when they dispersed us around the world; it does nothing for us today with the present conditions of genocide.
To think that African women can achieve liberation separate of African men, you really have to ask how that will happen.
African men do and say horrible things to African women, and vice versa, not as a result of “male privilege” but because of this relationship we have with colonialism. When we identify our issue as “male privilege”, we place the onus on the oppressed versus the oppressor and doesn’t give us an opportunity to overturn it.
The feminist responded, “You see! That’s what black men do! You always make it about you! That’s what I’m talking about!”
This sister does not have a historical materialist understanding of the world and the place of Africans in it, such as what is explained in the theory of African Internationalism, therefore, she has come to the wrong conclusions about the whole question of patriarchy and privilege.
We can have ideological disagreements with sisters who have this understanding, but at the end of the day, we want every African woman to be educated about the root cause of our conditions and how to fight. We recognize barriers that are sometimes present in our communities and unite that they should be destroyed. We do not want to fight African men and discourage them acting as the State in our homes, communities or any other space, and we support dialogue and action that dismantle colonial behaviors that mimic the oppression of white power.
That’s why we are actively involved in dismantling these behaviors, like what we’ve done in Santa Barbara, California when we organize our community to respond to a campus predator.
We have also targeted our work at the primary purveyors of violence in our communities, the State. We have organize protests against slumlords that threatened eviction and social service offices that denied services – and won.
We’ve organized a community response to the state-sponsored kidnapping of African children from poor working class African families, with our campaign #ArrestCPS.
We are also organizing a community response to child welfare, Uhuru Kijiji Childcare Collective that makes the community responsible for African women, children and families overall.
We are also engaged in building economic self-sustainability for our organization and our community through our brand DeColonaise and we provide political education through our website, flyers and The Burning Spear Newspaper’s column Harriet’s Daughter.
Our work addresses the real material conditions of our people. So even as we debate about patriarchy, we are actively involved in overturning real colonial conditions—Our feelings about patriarchy.
To learn more about what we do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or (240) 326-3959 (U.S.) or visit our website at anwouhuru.org.