Feminism. Probably one of the hardest things to talk about in today's day and age because everything you say is going to be so hotly contested. If you're a self-proclaimed feminist, you are going to get backlash for being too outspoken, too direct, too needy. If you claim you are not a feminist, the backlash is going to be equally as rough; women will attack you saying "How dare you not support your own gender," or even worse, saying you are proliferating the oppression of women. What many people don't understand, though, is that there are many different types of feminism, different ways to look at the monster that is "feminism." Often times white and black women find themselves at a crossroads, not knowing how to intertwine the two.
Black feminism is in fact a very real term, and a completely different branch of feminism. Black feminists felt the need to coin their own term because white people, shockingly, were leaving black women out of the fight for equality. Black women felt as if they had no place in feminism because while yes, they were women, they were black and that was another factor holding them back. Black women are the most marginalized group of people, because not only do they have to work up from their gender, they have to work up from their race as well. You cannot deny or fight this concept because of basic statistics.
Growing up and finding myself, a white girl, feeling very to the left in most situations, I did not know how to approach the topic of black feminism. I didn't know if because I was in fact white I could not hold the mindsets black feminists did. I didn't know if I did, black women would be mad because I was white. But my freshmen year of college my women studies teacher brought in a group of black women from South Africa to speak to our class. Upon expressing their troubles of growing up black and they way they were treated being a women as well, I asked a simple question:
How can I, as a white women, better not only understand the struggle that black women go through, but help combat it?
And every single one of their jaws dropped and said what I have been trying to preach: they just want white women to acknowledge their struggle. And that's when I put two and two together. We grow up with the mindset of white privilege, we grow up with the mindset of white supremacy and the illusion white people can fix everything, just like we think white women can fix the problem black women are dealing with. Instead, acknowledging there is a problem and actively working to, in easy terms, "jump off our high horse" is the way to combat this problem.
Women do a disservice to women everywhere when they deny the fact of feminism and an even bigger disservice when they think all feminism can be lumped into one. White feminists and black feminists alike could make the fight for women's equality much easier by recognizing each others struggle and deeming them as worthy even if they aren't their own struggles.