A-Z of Black Radicalism

F is for Feminism, Black

Make it Plain is exploring Black Radicalism with Kehinde Andrews exploring a new letter each day. All of these are sourced from Back to Black: Retelling Black Radicalism for the 21st Century, proceeds of which go to the Harambee Organisation of Black Unity There are some limited suggested resources below but please send in suggestions for more, these are just a few to start with

Far too often Black women have been written out of the history of Black liberation. Using the lens of our oppressors we view our struggle as the work of the great men who battled valiantly against the system. But no Black liberation movement could have existed without the blood, sweat and tears of Black women. Queen Nzinga of Angola was of the earliest figures we learnt about at home. Cecilé Fatiman was alongside Dutty Boukman at Bois Caiman, the ceremony that sparked the Haitian Revolution. Unlike her brother Cudjoe, Nanny refused to sign a treaty with the British, continuing to battle against the system of slavery in Jamaica. Amy Jacques and Ashwood Garvey were just as important to the Universal Negro Improvement Association as the honourable Marcus. The first chair of Malcolm’s Organisation of Afro-American Unity was Lynne Shifflet. Ella Baker is perhaps the most influential of all the civil rights leaders. The Black Panther Party in the US was over fifty percent female and the co-founder of the British Panthers was Althea Jones-Lecointe.

Black Feminism is more than simply retelling the history of Black struggle to include the stories of women. As a body of intellectual work Black Feminism represents the perfect example of radical thought, drawn from activism and lived experiences. As Black Studies has brought our work into the university Black Feminism has retained the organic links to Black communities that are essential. Patricia Hill Collin’s ‘ethic of personal accountability’ perfectly captures the duty of those in the academy to remain accountable to those outside the walls of academia. A reminder that we should be judged not by the institution but our connection to those we are meant to serve. Kimberlé Crenshaw’s articulation of intersectionality, a concept at the heart of Black feminist mobilisations for decades, offers a radical lens to view society. Engaging the intersections of identity through the standpoint of Black women highlights the true nature of inequality and necessitates revolutionary forms of action and solidarity. Black Feminist scholarship offers the promise of the ‘science of revolution’ often missing from our work, even when we act with the best intentions. 

Any analysis of our oppression that does not take account of the forces of patriarchy cannot fully understand the nature of the problem and therefore can never provide a solution. Black Feminism offers a Blackness that is for all of us. A set of analyses, tools and practices that are essential if we want freedom.


Combahee River Collective Statement

Keisha Blain Set the World on Fire

Beverley Bryan, Stella Dadzie, and Suzanne Scafe Heart Of The Race: Black Women’s Lives in Britain

Patricia Hill Collins Black Feminist Thought

Kimberlé Crenshaw Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex

bell hooks Ain’t I a Woman

Claudia Jones Beyond Containment

Audre Lorde Sister Outsider

Robyn Spencer The Revolution Has Come

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