Black Feminism Week: Jamilah Lemieux
 
Those who have followed me for a while know it was two women who inspired me to start Black Feminism Week. Jamilah Lemieux is one of those women.

If you’re not familiar with Jamilah Lemieux, she is the Senior Editor of Ebony magazine and she is someone who you should read and follow now!


Right now!


Yesterday’s image defined Black Feminism as intersectional, however it referred to White Feminism™. Although Ella Achola and Jamilah Lemioux are not one of those who capitalize and trademark the phrase, doing so has a special meaning. Even though the brand of White Feminism™ is defined in this, I want to make sure that I am not referring to white people who are feminists, but the brand White Feminism™ and touch on what corporate feminism is, and how they are different from black feminism.


White Feminism™ and White Feminists™ are perfectly defined by this image. This also includes erasure of women of color, trans women, and trans women of color. Unlike “Rad Fem” which denies the existence of trans women (And I am not going into much further on this post), White Feminism™ is more insidious because it reinforces white supremacy. Black feminists do not expect white people to understand all of the issues in intersectionality (However, constantly explaining them over and over again is exhausting work. I have a taste of that when I celebrate black feminism, but that doesn’t mean I understand the depth of how they feel.)


People like Nicole Sandler, who had the idea of intersectionality explained to her by many different people, choose not to understand the issue and continue to erase, or in Sandler’s case, throw black women under the bus. Last year she had Imani Gandy on her show (Starts about 25 minutes in.) to explain to her how structural racism works, and Sandler was clueless as to what “white privilege” or privilege in general even is. Imani (Who I do consider a friend) patiently explained it to her (Even though she didn’t point out black soldiers never qualified for the G.I. Bill like Sander’s father was because of the virtue of his whiteness.) and after the conversation (Which is worth listening to, Imani killed it!) Sandler completely dismisses the conversation when talking to a white man, Bob Ney, by quoting an e-mail from a fan and co-signing it by saying “anyone who uses the word ‘Intersectionality’ is classist!”

No! Intersectionality is not classist in this day and age! As Imani wrote after this interview:


The privilege from which you benefit is not your fault. Whether you choose to recognize that privilege, and then how you choose to leverage that privilege is what matters. Are you actively working to tear down the structural racism, sexism, and cissexism that is built into our society in order to level the playing field and promote equality for all people? Or are you simply looking at those who don’t have the advantages that you have, shrugging your shoulders and saying, “Sucks to be you, yo.” That’s what matters the most. It’s not the privilege. It’s what you do with it.


So that moment when Nicole Sandler had a conversation about this, because it wasn’t what was affecting her as a white woman, she disregarded that.


White Feminism™ is different from corporate feminism however, they both have the same chilling effect. Corporate feminism erases all struggles women have. Carly Fiorina is a great example of what corporate feminism is, she ignores the issues facing most women and just focuses on hammering at that glass ceiling. In 2008, this was Hilary Clinton’s problem, too. (However, in 2016 she has hired Maya Harris and Zerlina Maxwell as advisors and has opened the door for me to support her. If she wants my vote Clinton needs to do more, but this is a good start.) Corporate Feminism tends to also reinforces structural problems, like capitalism, sexism, racism, classism, etc, just to have a clean narrative.


What I love about Black Feminism is the conversation. I learn more about society with my conversations with black women than I do with anyone else. As an artist, I try to confront society with these lessons I have learned. Intersectionality, the backbone of intersectional feminism, as Ella Achola called it yesterday, is how you learn about sexism, racism, homophobia, and other issues that affect the broad spectrum of existence. Intersectionality is how we must all live, and if you chose to ignore that, that’s your problem. Now, if your privilege makes you stumble and it’s pointed out to you and your response is “hey, I didn’t see that before, I’ll try to do better” then you are part of the solution.


All you need to do is make your feminism and your liberalism more intersectional.


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