White Bourgeois Feminism in Black Face

For the past six weeks I have developed a close relationship with the topic of oppression through race, gende, and economic disenfranchisement, specifically within the framework of the United States.

Although the exploitation of black women is not a newly discovered reality, this course was quite unique given the exploration of this focus through the narrowed scope of Black Feminist thought.

Before denouncing the child of white bourgeois idealists, it became necessary, as an African woman, to understand this matter that I have been informed, through this particular stream of thought, speaks solely to my experience as a black woman.

Black women continue to be impacted through several intersections of oppression, which have been accompanied with severe acts of violence.

Black Feminists struggle against this reality by placing black women at the center of discussion in hopes that by freeing what they attribute to be the most oppressed group within the black nation that all will ultimately share in this liberation.

While this expression may seem tempting, I have found various contradictions within this professed road to freedom.

As an African Internationalist, I align myself with the oppressed people of the world who continue to be assaulted by imperialism and subsequently, another western construction; capitalism.

This system, which operates solely provided the disenfranchisement of a given group, historically has utilized African people to literally pump blood, sweat, and resources into the building of European empires.

As white feminist have failed to acknowledge these contradictions due to their allegiance to a structure that privileges their whiteness above all else, black feminist indeed tackle questions of imperialism and capitalism, but they do so as other examples of oppression.

While black feminist view these mechanisms of radical cultural violence as relevant, they refuse to recognize the issues of imperialism and capitalism as primary contradictions.

By neutralizing any given oppression in relation to black women, black feminists have consciously placed leafs before a viable rooting structure.

By placing these attacks on leveled ground, we place an enigmatic cloud over the question of black liberation and what direction we should be, unifiably, headed toward.

Issues such as race, class and gender are a result of colonialism and imperialism.

Entities such as race, class and gender are western conceptions only and do not trace lineage to African spaces.

While there existed roles based on the needs of the given society, they were not rooted in gender. As far as the topic of classism, the economic system was based, for the most part, in family ties and crop yield, and lastly, race clearly cannot be debated as a western notion.

The first attack by Europeans on African soil was not based in gender, rather this assault targeted what should today be conceived as a black nation.

Again, it is only once under European rule that black people began to be subjected to western ideas of  what is socially acceptable.

Imperialism and the various extensions of it, such as patriarchy, race and capitalism, have resulted in African people baring the brunt of all these disparities.

Black feminists continue to tackle the issues they find relevant and continue to gain no leeway.

This is due to their relentlessness in fighting things that are mentally honed, i.e. race and patriarchy.

Anti-racism is a delusional stance which ironically places white individuals at the center, dismissing black women and every other black entity for that matter.

One cannot fight against the racism of white westerners. We have seen this in periods such as the Harlem Renaissance where the underlining goal of this particular period was to convince a white nation that black people were indeed human.

This was attempted through the presentation or rather self-exploitation of culture. Black northerners such as Aaron Douglas and Langston Hughes tried to create art in hopes that their white counterparts would accept their expressions as authentically creative and intelligible, thus worthy of acknowledgment by Americans.

This stream of thought continues to privilege whiteness by labeling it as somehow worthy of what is authentically acceptable, especially given a history of murder, rape and pillage of African people.

While privileging the struggle of black women, one neglects the nation she has created with the help of black men, and the children she bares that act to populate it.

Although my critique does not ignore the struggles that are specific to black women, I find the reality of the oppression of black women to to be inarguable, but as a black woman, I realize that my struggle is not solely my own.

Instead, the complete liberation of African people is what is necessary to liberate black women, and to prevent her tokens of freedom used to tame her fire in the West from ever dwindling again.

We say “Izwe Lethu! I Afrika!,” because the resources of Africa belong solely to African people of the world. We say this because it is our land, our home. We say, “One Nation, One Africa,” because it is only with this motto that black faces whose futures continue to dwindle in the hands of imperialists will see and feel true freedom, true democracy, and control over their own destinies.

So I end on this note, not to create divisions amongst black women or our people, but to unite with a strategy conducive to the complete liberation of out people.


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