Yesha got jokes. Evidently, it’s funny to her that Black men can’t even die right. This is one comment on Twitter that has been deleted under this thread. We need to talk about this because she has written and writes for Essence and BET. According to Yesha Callahan‘s website, she “is working on various television projects, ghostwriting for clients and writing a book.” She represents a lot of what we see coming out of the media today. How many more Yeshas are out there who think the same away about Black men? We expect this from White writers, but how many Black writers out there are writing in Black magazines, writing scripts for Black TV shows and Black movies that we all are watching? How did we get here?
Let me take you back. We all know that our real enemy is White Supremacy, and all this started with slavery. Plainly, White Supremacy is a system that benefits Whites, makes sure they are on top, and Blacks are on the bottom. If you want to understand White Supremacy better, peep this video of Neely Fuller Jr.explaining it. We hat has become clear over the past 40 years is that Black feminism is a tool of White Supremacy that brings division to Black people. Let’s talk about it.
This all goes back to the late 1960s and early 1970s and at first, Black people weren’t really feeling Black feminism. Black feminism started with a relatively small number of middle class Black women. They didn’t represent the majority of Black women. In 1973, 30 women started the National Black Feminist Organization (NBFO). Then in 1974, a group of women left the NBFO and started the Combahee River Collective. This group wrote the key statement for Black feminists, The Combahee River Collective Statement. In 1976, the NBFO national organization disbanded, and Black feminism didn’t spread across the country.
There are 2 quick things I want to point out about this beginning period. One, these Black feminists claimed that the problems Black women faced were “racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression.” Simply, White people were racists, and all men were patriarchal meaning they wanted to rule over women, yes, even Black men wanted to rule over Black women. This was their problem with Black men in the liberation movement, so they needed to break of and make their own movement that focused specifically on women that were also lesbian. But what did they base these claims on? If you listen to a number of other Black women who were in the movement, they tell a completely different story.
Were they influenced by White women? Although they said they had problems with White women, they continued to work with them. In fact, in 1978, in an early attempt to try to get Black feminism to the masses, former CIA agent, Gloria Steinem helped to publish Michelle Wallace’s Black feminist book Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman. What!? The CIA!? The same CIA that worked with the FBI to sabotage the movement in the 1960s!?
Two, they even admitted to their difficulty in reaching the masses. In the Collective Statement, they said that they couldn’t announce to people that they were Black feminists. They also said that Black people back then thought that Black feminism would be divisive.
They did not get to the masses, but Black feminism was able to grow in higher education. You may or may not have heard of bell hooks, she was the most popular and important in getting it going in higher education. There was also Barbara Smith and Kimberlé Crenshaw. Oh, let me go in on Kimberlé Crenshaw. She is famous for coining this term “intersectionality.” Peep this, she coins the term intersectionality in 1989 and explains it in “Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics.” Now, almost everyone knows what happened in the 1980s, the crack epidemic messed up our neighborhoods. Right in the middle of the crack epidemic and the rise in mass incarceration, Crenshaw coins the term. This is a huge problem because she was a legal scholar talking about the need to account for gender and race but ONLY FOCUSED ON WOMEN! Make it make sense! How, in the middle of one of fastest growing incarceration rates of Black men, could a legal scholar talking about race and gender not focus on men!?!?!?
I bring up Barbara Smith because she provides another example of how the public responded to Black feminism. Back in 1986 on Tony Brown’s Journal, Tony Brown talked to Smith and Ishmael Reed asking Do Black Feminist Writers Victimize Black Men? The all Black audience at the time was laughing at Smith. It was embarrassing. The audience laughed because when she pushed those feminists’ talking points, Reed brought in the actual data that proved her wrong. This might blow your mind, but Black men have one of the highest rates of sexual victimization based on data from the CDC, especially when we include Black men who are locked up. The leading cause of death of Black women is not Black men killing them and Black men aren’t just beating on Black women. It’s messed up, but we physically hurt each other.
We went from ignoring and clowning Black feminists to hyping chucks and pearls for VP Kamala Harris. Let’s talk about how we got there.
The turning point was 2014 and the rise of Black Lives Matter. The three “queer” co-founders of BLM, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi, were actually guided by academic and Black feminist Barbara Ransby. Her guidance provided both academia’s influence and the theory of Black feminism. So now, the way BLM functioned, and their beliefs are Black feminists. The problem still remained though, how will they overcome the previous issues such as concerns about division and the problems people had with feminism?
The first part of the answer many of you already know, they focused on the police killings of Black men. A lot of people were upset over Trayvon Martin’s murder. This is when the #BlackLivesMatter first became popular. The way they did it was genius. Because think about it, back during that time after Martin’s murder and the rise of media coverage in police killings, the phrase Black Lives Matter brought us all together. We didn’t care about feminism; we just wanted the police to stop killing us. When Darren Wilson murdered Mike Brown Jr and he laid in the street for 4 and half hours, Ferguson set the world on fire. We were already saying Black Lives Matter, so that slogan became a rallying cry. The Ferguson uprising changed the world. Because of Ferguson, the world started saying Black Lives Matter. But, this is also the problem. Garza, Cullors, and Tometi were not out there getting tear gassed, shot at and facing off with a militarized police force. The founders didn’t get in the mud in the middle of the uprising, but they became the face of the movement.
The global reaching White media engine pushed this story and the world started rallying around BLM (Black feminism in disguise). We didn’t collectively know that BLM was pushing the ideas of Black feminism. Don’t get me wrong, some people picked up on it right away. Shout out to “Mama” Julia, Ferguson frontline and Director of Black Power for the International Black Freedom Alliance. She did call it back in 2014. I wish I knew her back then because they show nuff got me. I went to Ferguson, and just like a lot of other people who went to Ferguson, came back to my hometown and started a BLM chapter. I was a part of BLM until 2017.
BLM pushed Black feminist ideas to the masses by saying center Black women and queer folx. It pushed out words like intersectionality and quotes by Assata Shakur: “We have nothing to lose but our chains.” This is key though. The reason why so many of us supported BLM was because this was a moment where we all could agree on one thing: Black lives matter and we wanted the police to stop killing us. Let’s not forget the “Ferguson effect.” The whole world paid attention to Ferguson. We watched military equipment ride through the streets. We saw the tear gas, pepper spray, and all of the media images through both mainstream media and social media live streams. For many people, especially young folks, this was their awakening that racism and White Supremacy was real. At the time, we thought it was Black Lives Matter. People on the ground in Ferguson, Los Angeles, and other cities knew the difference between BLM and those who were doing the work, but to the rest of the world, we thought it was BLM.
Because of this, when BLM started pushing Black feminism, many of us supported BLM. When people started to notice Black feminism’s influence such as attacking the family structure and centering Black women and queer folx, I and others defended BLM.
In 2017, we started to figure out what BLM truly was. We clearly see now all the money they got and how they ain’thelping nobody. A lot of people dipped. The thing is though, that three years of popularity was enough that they were able to get into politics and started working with Democrats. Game over.
Gloria Steinem wasn’t successful with Michelle Wallace, but she kept fighting to push feminism and it worked with BLM.
Here is former CIA agent, Gloria Steinem, with Alicia Garza. Photo credit to Emily Crockett.
Black feminism is officially mainstream.
The trinity of academia, activism, and politics has formed.
They were already in academia. BLM gave them the credibility with activists and opened the door to politics.
All this brings us to where we are now. Fam, this is the story I wanted you to know about. BLM decentered Black men and profited off of their deaths. Black feminists’ academics, activists, and social media influencers all became popular through BLM. People we never heard of before 2014 are now mainstream, doing interviews on shows like the Breakfast Club, got blue checks on Facebook and Twitter, and writing bestselling books. It has even infiltrated the church. Peep this book by Candice Benbow, Red Lip Theology. It takes all of the Black feminists talking points and applies it to the Black church.
Just like I started this article with, they are also writing the shows and movies that you watch. Pay attention to the shows and look at how many of them highlight Black women or LGBTQIA+ folx. Look at how many shows and movies have mixed raced couples. Pay attention to how many shows got Black men playing some type of stereotype as the cheater, rapists, or abuser. Even the documentaries are about Black men with a new one coming out about Bill Cosby. It seems like every week or month or so there’s a breaking news story about a Black man who did something wrong 20 years ago, but we need to talk about it today. It’s crazy how many dead Black men we are talking about. Can they rest in peace?!
Based on the come up BLM and Black feminists made off of the deaths of Black men, I guess we can’t die right…
Dr. Travis “Hood Scholar” Harris is the Director of Black Revolutionary Education for the International Black Freedom Alliance. He used to be a BLM organiser and has a PhD. He is intimately aware of this situation. Since BLM has had a global impact, he wants to have a global response and let the world know how they are covertly bringing division to our people. The opinions expressed are not shared by The Southern African Times