For some, the 1st of March is just the first day of “Women’s Herstory Month.” For black women, the 1st of March marks the day we’re expected to shed our brown skin and “choose gender.” The 1st of March marks the date we’re supposed to smile as blackness disappears from bulletin boards, as librarians move the texts by James Baldwin and Maya Angelou to the back, as we recover from being told “choose race” for 28 days only to be told “choose gender” for 31.
Why is it that black women constantly must prove that we are our whole selves? Why is it that black women constantly must prove that we are willing to die for our freedom, when we have been doing exactly that since the first Africans were forced onto slave ships? Why is it that black women constantly must prove to white women that we are as much women as we are black? Why is it that black women constantly must pass these misogynoiristic litmus tests to access spaces we have more than earned access to?
Why is it that black women constantly must “earn” things at all? Why is it that we hate black women so much? Why is it that the more popular the term intersectionality becomes with white women, the less popular it is to check them on this blatant misogynoir?
I believe that this can be attributed to the intellectual colonization of race scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw’s work, especially the work that led her to coin the term intersectionality.
Intersectionality is a theory of oppression. Intersectionality is a theory built off of the race-class-gender framework of Crenshaw’s predecessors.
Intersectionality is not and has never been for white women, and it disturbs just how comfortable white women are with infiltrating black feminist circles and sucking them dry.
The co-option of intersectionality is an act of violence. The co-option of intersectionality kills black women.
White women’s persistence in carving out pieces of Crenshaw’s work that induldge their refusal to reflect on what their whiteness makes them immune to.
This only makes sitting idly by while black bodies are subjugated more comfortable. The colonization of intersectionality by white feminists means that we still lack the lenses necessary to view black women as entire, multidimensional beings and to view the inherently violent, destructive nature of whiteness and all that it infiltrates.
The colonization of intersectionality means that we are all right back where we started, checking for ourselves because we know that the feminist movement will never, ever check for us.
So when you talk about “Women’s Herstory Month,” understand that though you may not preface it with the word white, black women know that white is implied.
You cannot buzzword your way out of accountability.
You cannot post or tweet your way out of accountability. You cannot “we are all women” your way out of accountability. Understand that you do not have to. You do not have to smile in the faces of black women or keep up with all the buzz words.
As Audre Lorde said, “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”
We never forgot for one second that our liberation will not come through you.
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