Can we talk about what it looks like to center black women?

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Can we talk about what it looks like to center black women? The biggest failing of the divest movement is its obsession with men – with what black men think, with which men black women are marrying, with what men are doing.

That is not empowerment.

We need to focus on misogyny within the black communities worldwide and about uplifting black women. Feminism/womanism/girl power whatever you want to call it, we need to start pushing for it. Too many black women are afraid to use these labels and afraid to put women first.

This is why we’re stuck “muling” because black girls grow up without seeing culturally relevant strong women (which is not being the breadwinner for us.) Because we grow up in households that cater to our fathers and brothers. Because we’re taught black history that focuses solely on men. Because even the “progressive” movement of calling out historical figures for racism ignores their sexism.

Can we talk about centering women?

This is about investing in black women. I think it speaks to the wider obsession that women, in general, have with men. It’s a problem that dogs every woman on this planet one way or another (hi patriarchy). This is one interpretation within the Black population, but then you also have cultures where a woman is essentially completely worthless and exposed if she isn’t married by a certain age. It’s all bull but it has a very real impact on our lives.

I think what I’ve struggled with is calling this out while also being kind. It’s a symptom rather than a cause and is precisely why we need to genuinely center ourselves more as women. One way or another, our personhood and value are tied up in the men we spend our time with. I am not keen on the language I’ve seen from some of these individuals at all, I couldn’t be more diametrically opposed in a lot of ways, but I am conscious that these people wouldn’t be expressing themselves in this way if something hadn’t pushed them there in the first place. That is the thing that needs addressing.

I also don’t like how hetero-centric women’s conversations are. I am straight and I realize straight women are tied up with this the most. The primary and often sole concern is what men to accept, and what ones to reject. In real life, it’s actually worse. How many people’s sole topic of conversation is either their husband/partner, how much they want one, or how much they want to know about other women’s love-lives? In online spaces for Black women such as this, anybody who isn’t hetero is probably bored stiff at best and completely marginalized at worst. They’re Black women too, but the dialogue revolves around the priorities of those who center men.

I do think as well, that maybe some consolidation of the topics that aren’t male-centered needs to happen. I’m aware of my own confirmation bias here – it’s a topic that irritates me and therefore I notice it more than perhaps I should, but there is a lot of woman-focused dialogue happening out there. I am hoping that we create this opportunity within this space.