Black feminism holds that the experience of black women give rise to a particular understanding of their position in relation to sexism, class oppression, and racism. The experience of being a black woman, it maintains, cannot be grasped in terms of being black or of being a woman, but must be elucidated via intersectionality, a term coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Crenshaw argued that each concept—being black, being female—should be considered independently while understanding that intersecting identities compound upon and reinforce one another.
A black feminist lens in the United States was first employed by black women to make sense of how white supremacy and patriarchy interacted to inform the particular experiences of enslaved black women. Black activists and intellectuals formed organizations such as the National Association of Coloured Women (NACW) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Black feminism rose to prominence in the 1960s, as the civil rights movement excluded women from leadership positions, and the mainstream feminist movement largely focused its agenda on issues that predominately impacted middle-class white women. From the 1970s to 1980s, black feminists formed groups that addressed the role of black women in black nationalism, gay liberation, and second-wave feminism. In the 1990s, the Anita Hill controversy brought black feminism into the mainstream. Black feminist theories reached a wider audience in the 2010s, as a result of social-media advocacy.
Proponents of black feminism argue that black women are positioned within structures of power in fundamentally different ways than white women. In recent years, the distinction of black feminism has birthed the tag "white feminist", used to criticize feminists who do not acknowledge issues of intersectionality. Critics of black feminism argue that divisions along the lines of race or gender weaken the strength of the overall feminist movement or anti-racist movements.
Among the notions that evolved out of the black feminist movement are Alice Walker's womanism, and historical revisionism with an increased focus on black women. Angela Davis, bell hooks, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, and Patricia Hill Collins have emerged as leading academics on black feminism, whereas black celebrities, notably Beyoncé, have encouraged mainstream discussion of black feminism.
Black feminism has been around since the time of slavery. If defined as a way that black women have sought to understand their position within systems of oppression then this is exemplified in Sojourner Truth's famous speech, "Ain't I a Woman?", which was delivered in 1851 at the Women's Convention in Akron, Ohio. Truth addressed how the issues being discussed at the convention were issues that primarily impacted white women. Some feminists that were exhibiting major attempts for change at the turn of the century were Ida B. Wells, a politically driven activist, and Zora Neale Hurston, a prolific writer of African American culture. Ida B. Wells became famous after she fought to find the truth about the lynching of black men.  One of Zora Neale Hurston's most notable contributions was her depiction of a strong female lead in her works in the form of Janie Crawford from her novel "Their Eyes Were Watching God", which altered the public's perception on black women at the time.  The book A Voice from the South (1892) by Anna Julia Cooper has been credited as one of the first pieces of literature that expresses a black feminist perspective. Several other texts have been published since that have expressed the evolution of these ideas; one of the keystone pieces within the modern black feminist movement being Women, Race, and Class (1981) written by activist and cultural critic, Angela Davis. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a prominent feminist law theorist, gave the idea the name intersectionality in 1986–1987 as part of her work in anti-discrimination law, as part of describing the effects of compound discrimination against black women.
In the post slavery period, black female intellectuals including Sojourner Truth, Anna Julia Cooper, Ida B. Wells, Mary Church Terrell, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, set in motion the principles that would become the basis for black feminism. Activists, such as Harper, proposed "some of the most important questions of race, gender, and the work of Reconstruction in the nineteenth century", a very bold action for a black woman at the time. These intellectuals accomplished things that were unheard of for black women, such as giving public lectures, fighting for suffrage, and aiding those in need of help following reconstruction. Suffrage was early evidence of schisms between white and black feminism. According to Harper, white women needed suffrage for education; however, "black women need the vote, not as a form of education, but as a form of protection". Even though feminism as a movement was at a rise in this point in time, black women were often left behind and disregarded by the white feminists of this revolution. This, however, did not stop the black feminists, who would eventually create a separate path for themselves fighting for the cause. Out of this, the National Association of Colored Women (NACP), the Nation Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and the National Association of Wage Earners was born. 
Although many wave metaphors of feminist and Civil Rights activism leave out the few decades after the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, this was a particularly important moment in the development of black feminist activism. During this period, a few radical black female activists joined the Communist party or focused on union activism. Although they did not all identify as feminists, their theorizing included important works that are the foundation for theories of intersectionality—integrating race, gender, and class. In 1940, for example, Esther V. Cooper (married name Esther Cooper Jackson), for example, wrote a M.A. thesis called "The Negro Woman Domestic Worker in Relation to Trade Unionism." And in 1949 Claudia Jones wrote "An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman."
Other feminist activism and organizing happened around different cases of racial and sexual violence. For example, Esther Cooper and Rosa Parks organized to help Recy Taylor. In 1944, Taylor was the victim of a gang rape; Parks and Cooper attempted to bring the culprits to justice. Black feminist activists focused on other similar cases, such as the 1949 arrest of and then death sentence issued to Rosa Lee Ingram, a victim of sexual violence. Defenders of Ingram included the famous black feminist Mary Church Terrell, who was an octogenarian at the time.
In the second half of the 20th century, black feminism as a political and social movement grew out of black women's feelings of discontent with both the civil rights movement and the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s. One of the foundational texts of black feminism is "An Argument for Black Women's Liberation as a Revolutionary Force", authored by Mary Ann Weathers and published in February 1969 in Cell 16's radical feminist magazine No More Fun and Games: A Journal of Female Liberation. Weathers states her belief that "women's liberation should be considered as a strategy for an eventual tie-up with the entire revolutionary movement consisting of women, men, and children", but she posits that "[w]e women must start this thing rolling" because
All women suffer oppression, even white women, particularly poor white women, and especially Indian, Mexican, Puerto Rican, Oriental and Black American women whose oppression is tripled by any of the above-mentioned. But we do have females' oppression in common. This means that we can begin to talk to other women with this common factor and start building links with them and thereby build and transform the revolutionary force we are now beginning to amass.
Not only did the civil rights movement primarily focus on the oppression of black men, but many black women faced severe sexism within civil rights groups such as the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Within the movement, men dominated the powerful positions. Black feminists did not want the movement to be the struggle for black men's rights; they wanted black women's rights to be incorporated too. Black women felt they needed to have their own movement because the complaints of white feminists differed from their own and favored white women.
Between 1960–1960, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was highly active, and focused on achieving social justice through peaceful tactics. The SNCC was founded by Ella Baker. Baker was a member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)and the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC). When Baker served as Martin Luther King Jr.’s SCLC executive secretary, she was exposed to the hierarchical structure of the organization. Baker was tired of the sexism found within both the NAACP and the SCLC, so she wanted to start her own organization that had an emphasis on an egalitarian structure and that allowed women to be a part of the movement and voice their needs. In 1964 at a SNNC retreat in Waveland, Mississippi, the members discussed the role of women and addressed sexism that occurred within the group. A group of women in the SNCC (who were later identified as white allies Mary King and Casey Hayden) openly challenged the way women were treated when they issued the "SNCC Position Paper (Women in the Movement)". The paper listed 11 events in which women were treated as subordinate to men. According to the paper, women in SNCC did not have a chance to become the face of the organization, the top leaders, because they were assigned to clerical and housekeeping duties, whereas men were involved in decision-making.
When Stokely Carmichael was elected chair of the SNCC, he reoriented the path of the organization towards Black Power. Thus, white women lost their influence and power in SNCC; Mary King and Casey Hayden left to become active in pursuing equality for women. While it is often argued that black women in the SNCC were significantly subjugated during the Carmichael era, Carmichael appointed several women to posts as project directors during his tenure as chair. By the latter half of the 1960s, more women were in charge of SNCC projects than during the first half. Despite these improvements, the SNCC's leadership positions were occupied by men during the entirety of its existence.
This combination of the raised fist of black power, and the astrological symbol for Venus, denotes an intersection of ideals of the two groups. Ideals were shared, such as a "critique on racial capitalism, starting with slavery". Despite this, Black feminism had reasons to become independent of Black Nationalism. Black feminism had been cast "as a negotiation of the sexism and masculinist (and sometimes heterosexism) of Black Nationalism".
Despite often initiating protests, organizing and fundraising events, communicating to the community, and formulating strategies, women in positions of leadership remain to be overlooked by many historians covering the Civil Rights Movement. Many events, such as the Montgomery bus boycott were made successful due to the women that distributed information. During the Montgomery bus boycott, 35,000 leaflets were mimeographed and handed out after Rosa Parks’ arrest. Georgia Gilmore, after being fired from her job as a cook and black-listed from other jobs in Montgomery due to her contributions to the Montgomery bus boycott, organized the Club From Nowhere, a group that cooked and baked in the 1950s to fund the Montgomery bus boycott.
The second-wave feminist movement emerged in the 1960s, led by Betty Friedan. Some black women felt alienated by the main planks of the second-wave feminist movement, which largely advocated for women's right to work outside the home and expansion of reproductive rights. For example, earning the power to work outside the home was not seen as an accomplishment by black women since many black women had to work both inside and outside the home for generations due to poverty. Additionally, Angela Davis wrote that while Afro-American women and white women were subjected to multiple unwilled pregnancies and had to clandestinely abort, Afro-American women were also suffering from compulsory sterilization programs that were not widely included in dialogue about reproductive justice.
Some black feminists who were active in the early second-wave feminism include civil rights lawyer and author Florynce Kennedy, who co-authored one of the first books on abortion, 1971's Abortion Rap; Cellestine Ware, of New York's Stanton-Anthony Brigade; and Patricia Robinson. These women "tried to show the connections between racism and male dominance" in society.
Throughout the 20th century, Black feminism evolved quite differently from mainstream feminism. It retained historical principles, while being influenced by new thinkers such as Alice Walker. Walker created a whole new subject of black feminism, called Womanism, which emphasizes the degree of the oppression black women faced when compared to white women and "addressed the solidarity of humanity". In addition, she stressed the importance of heritage in Black feminism through the medium of literature, exemplified by an interview in 2011.
Fighting against racism and sexism across the white dominated second wave feminist movement and male dominated Black power and Black Arts movement, Black feminist groups of artists like Where We At! Black Women Artists Inc were formed in the early 1970s. The “Where We At” group was formed in 1971 by artists Vivian E. Browne and Faith Ringgold. During the summer of that year the group organized the group organized the first exhibition in history of only Black women artists to refute the American viewing public’s belief that “the Black artist was synonymous with the Black male artist.” In 1972 the group would issue six demands to the Brooklyn Museum that demanded the museum address its sexist and racist hierarchies and blind-eye towards the large community of Black women artists in Brooklyn. The 2017 Brooklyn Museum exhibition “We Wanted a Revolution: Black Radical Women 1965–1985” celebrates the work of a large number of Black women artists who were part of the Black Arts and Black Power movements and who created new expressive paradigms which challenged the criteria for inclusion within institutional structures and also would be visible on its own terms to circulate and be accessible and legible to the Black communities that it was created for and also spoke about. Black women artists responded to racism and sexism within the art world and sexism within the Black Arts movement, how these women responded to oppression within formal institutional structures and how they might create new spaces for the appreciation of their work, and how greater amounts of autonomy and self-determination might be gained.
Black lesbian feminism is a political identity and movement that incorporates perspectives, experiences, and politics around race, gender, class, and sexual orientation. It was created in response to the exclusion of racial experiences within mainstream, lesbian feminist agenda. Hence, this form of lesbian feminism emphasizes its focus on expanding lesbian feminism to incorporate solidarity.
Black lesbian feminists were often ostracized in mainstream black movements based on their gender and sexual orientation; and, in mainstream feminism, and black lesbian feminists were often excluded in lesbian feminism based on race. During the 1970s, lesbian feminists created their own sector of feminism in reaction to homophobia and lesbian exclusion in the mainstream Second-Wave Feminist agenda. Lesbian feminism created a radical agenda focused on challenging homophobia; finding a place in feminism; and, for some, separatist notions. Additionally, some lesbian feminists were involved in black power movements, and vocalized the need for the inclusion of people of color. However, these perspectives on race and sexuality were not accepted by the mainstream, lesbian feminism; and, black lesbian feminists felt excluded from this movement.
In 1970, a defining moment for black lesbian feminists occurred at the Black Panther’s Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Several black lesbian feminists confronted a group of white, lesbian feminists about their racially, exclusive agenda. Following this event, several groups began to include and organize around black lesbian politics. For example, in 1973 the National Black Feminist Organization was founded and included lesbian agenda. Additionally, in 1975 the Combahee River Collective was founded out of experiences and feelings of sexism in the black power movements and racism in the lesbian feminist movement. The primary focus of this collective was to fight interlocking systems of oppression, raise awareness of these systems, and create a group made up of differences but connected by solidarity. Lastly, in 1978 the National Coalition of Black Lesbians and Gay Men was founded. In addition to the multiple organizations that focused on black, lesbian feminism, there were many authors that contributed to this movement such as Audre Lorde, Barbara Smith, Pat Parker, Karen Sims, Rose Mason, Darlene Pagano, Kate Rushin, doris davenport, Cheryl Clarke, Margaret Sloan-Hunter, and a number of others.
Black women's voices were continuously marginalized but groups were formed that stood up in the face of oppression. In the early 1990s, AWARE (African Woman's Action for Revolutionary Exchange) was formed in New York by Reena Walker and Laura Peoples after an inspiring plenary session on black women's issues held at the Malcolm X Conference at the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) entitled Black Women and Black Liberation: Fighting Oppression and Building Unity.
In 1991, The Malcolm X Conference was held again at BMCC and the theme that year was "Sisters Remember Malcolm X: A Legacy to be Transformed". It featured plenary sessions, "Sexual Harassment: Race, Gender and Power" and was held in a much larger theater that year. Black women were a central focus and not an aside as they were prior. Speakers included Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lorde, Verniece Miller, Reena Walker, Carol Bullard (Asha Bandele) and Vivian Morrison. In 1991, Reena Walker along with the members of AWARE also worked in coalition with AWIDOO (American Women in Defense of Ourselves), formed by Barbara Ransby, to sign a full-page ad in The New York Times to stand in support of Anita Hill.
In 1995, Reena Walker went on to put out the call to various women and organized the group African Americans Against Violence that effectively stopped a parade that a group of reverends led by Al Sharpton were attempting to hold in Harlem for Mike Tyson. The group, including Eve and Kathe Sandler, Nsia Bandele and Indigo Washington, worked tirelessly and successfully stopped the parade from happening, bringing much needed attention to the struggle of black women and sexism and domestic violence. A supporter of Mike Tyson, social worker Bill Jones, exclaimed "The man has paid his debt" (in regards to Tyson's rape conviction), and joined a large group of other Tyson supporters in heckling the African Americans Against Violence group, accusing them of "catering to white radical feminists".
A particularly imminent medium of oppression for black women in the 1990's was hip-hop music. During that time, there was little effort to express black feminism through the music. The New York hip-hop scene was mainly dominated my men in the 1990's, and most producers were focused on rap superstars Notorious B.I.G. and Sean "Diddy" Combs. Three female emcees can be credited to have expanded black womanhood in music during this time. Lil' Kim who was signed to Biggie Smalls' Junior M.A.F.I.A. Imprint, expressed her message very quickly. She achieved an image of fierce independence and comfort with her body. She defied the presumption in hip-hop that women are there to humble the presence of men. Lil' Kim's outspokenness and unprecedented lyrics were rejected by many people who believed in the traditional sound of hip-hop. Lil' Kim stood behind her words and never apologized for who she is. Faith Evans is another female emcee who broke barriers in the hip-hop world. At just 21 years old she was the first female artist signed to Bad Boy Records. Faith Evans spent more than 20 years in the music business fighting gender discrimination and harassment in an industry where men were the dominate content creators and producers. Mary J. Blige was another artist who became an advocate of women empowerment in hip-hop. She was a legendary singer who influenced the Bad Boy Records label although, she was never signed by them. Together, these women shared a sense of freedom in the music business that allowed them to bring women together across the world. There was a new perspective in the spot light that swung the pendulum in a different direction and gave women in hip-hop a voice.
The new century has brought about a shift in thinking away from "traditional" feminism. Third-wave feminism claimed the need for more intersectionality in feminist activism and the inclusion of black and other ethnic minority women. Moreover, the advancement of technology fostered the development of a new digital feminism. This online activism involved the use of "Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr, and other forms of social media to discuss gender equality and social justice. According to NOW Toronto, the internet created a "call-out" culture, in which sexism or misogyny can be called out and challenged immediately with relative ease.
As an academic response to this shift, many scholars incorporated queer of color critique into their discussions of feminism and queer theory. Queer of color critiques seeks an intersectional approach to disidentifying with the larger themes of "racialized heteronormativity and heteropatriarchy" in order to create a more representative and revolutionary critique of social categories. An example of queer of color critique can be seen in the Combahee River Collective's statement, which addresses the intersectionality of oppressions faced by black lesbians.
The 2010s saw a revitalization of black feminism. As more influential figures began to identify themselves as feminist, social media saw a rise in young black feminists willing to bring racist and sexist situations to light. Brittney Cooper, assistant professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at Rutgers University, said: "I think Black feminism is in one of the strongest moments it has seen in a while; From Melissa Harris-Perry on MSNBC, to Laverne Cox on Orange Is the New Black to Beyoncé ... we have prominent Black women [sic] identifying publicly with the term." Social media served as a medium for black feminists to express praise or discontent with organisations' representations of black women. For example, the 2015 and 2016 Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows were commended by Ebony magazine for letting four black models wear their natural hair on the runway. Black feminists on social media showed support for the natural hair movement using the hashtags #melanin and #blackgirlmagic. Alleged instances of the "appropriation" of black culture were commented on. For example, a 2015 Vogue Italia photo shoot involving model Gigi Hadid wearing an afro sparked backlash on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Some users claimed it was problematic and racist to have a non-black model wear an afro and a fake tan to give the appearance of blackness when the fashion magazine could have hired a black model instead. Kearie Daniel wrote that white people wearing certain hairstyles is a particularly touchy subject in black feminism because of the perceived double standard that when white women wear black hairstyles, they are deemed "trendy" or "edgy", while black women are labelled "ghetto" or "unprofessional".
Black feminists also voiced the importance of increasing "representation" of black women in television and movies. According to a 2014 study by the University of Southern California, of the 100 top films of that year "nearly three-quarters of all characters were white," NPR reports, and only 17 of those 100 top movies featured non-white lead or co-lead actors. That number falls further when only looking at non-white women leads, considering only one-third of speaking roles were for women, according to the same study.
The activist movement Black Lives Matter was initially formed by Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza, and Patrisse Kahn-Cullors as a hashtag to campaign against racism and police brutality against African Americans in the United States. The movement contributed to a revitalization and re-examining of the black feminist movement. While the deaths of black men played a major part in the Black Lives Matter movement, Rekia Boyd, Michelle Cusseaux, Tanisha Anderson, Shelly Frey, Yvette Smith, Eleanor Bumpurs, Sandra Bland and other women were also killed or assaulted by police officers. While Black Lives Matter has been critiqued for a failure to focus on black women's treatment by the police, it has since been better about incorporating the interlocking systems of oppression that disadvantage black women in particular. Activism of black feminists in Black Lives Matter has included protests against political candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, and hashtags such as #oscarssowhite, and #sayhername.
Black feminist identity politics can be defined as knowing and understanding one's own identity while taking into consideration both personal experience as well as the experiences of those in history to help form a group of like-minded individuals who seek change in the political framework of society. It also can be defined as a rejection of oppressive measures taken against one's group, especially in terms of political injustice.
Black feminist writer Patricia Hill Collins believes that this 'outsider within' seclusion suffered by black women was created through the domestic sphere, where black women were considered separate from the perceived white elite who claimed their dominance over them. They also felt a disconnect between the black men's suffering and oppression. As a result of white feminists excluding black women from their discourse, black feminists expressed their own experiences of marginalization and empowered black consciousness in society. Due to the diverse experiences of black women, it is imperative to Collins to speak for and of personal accounts of black women's oppression.
Identity politics have often implemented race, class, and gender as isolated categories as a means of excluding those who aren't perceived as part of the dominant group. These constructed biases formed from race, class, and gender are what feminist Kimberle Crenshaw believes need to be used, not as a means of degradation, but as a form of empowerment and self-worth. Ignoring these differences only creates more of a divide between social movements and other feminist groups, especially in the case of violence against women where the caliber of violence is correlated with components such as race and class.
Another issue of identity politics is the conflict of group formations and safe spaces for black women. In the 1970s, increased literacy among black women promoted writing and scholarship as an outlet for feminist discourse where they could have their voices heard. As a result, black women sought solace in safe spaces that gave them the freedom to discuss issues of oppression and segregation that ultimately promoted unity as well as a means of achieving social justice.
As the notion of color-blindness advocated for a desegregation in institutions, black women faced new issues of identity politics and looked for a new safe space to express their concerns. This was met with a lot of contention as people saw these black female groups as exclusive and separatist. Dominant groups, especially involved in the political sphere, found these safe spaces threatening because they were away from the public eye and were therefore unable to be regulated by the higher and more powerful political groups.
Despite the growth in feminist discourse regarding black identity politics, some men disagree with the black feminist identity politics movement. Some black novelists, such as Kwame Anthony Appiah, uphold the notion of color-blindness and dismiss identity politics as a proper means of achieving social justice. To him, identity politics is an exclusionary device implemented in black culture and history, like hip hop and jazz, that limit outsider comprehension and access. However, writer Jeffery A. Tucker believes that identity politics serves as a foundation where such color-blindness can finally be achieved in the long run if implemented and understood within society.
Black feminist organizations faced some different challenges to other feminist organization. Firstly, these women had to "prove to other black women that feminism was not only for white women". They also had to demand that white women "share power with them and affirm diversity" and "fight the misogynist tendencies of Black Nationalism".
The short-lived National Black Feminist Organization was founded in 1973 in New York by Margaret Sloan-Hunter and others (The NBFO stopped operating nationally in 1975). This organization of women focused on the interconnectedness of the many prejudices faced by African-American women, such as racism, sexism, classism, and homophobia. In 1975, Barbara Smith, Beverly Smith, Cheryl L. Clarke, Akasha Gloria Hull, and other female activists tied to the Civil Rights Movement, Black Nationalism or the Black Panther Party established, as an offshoot of the National Black Feminist Organization, the Combahee River Collective, a radical lesbian feminist group. Their founding text referred to important female figures of the abolitionist movement, such as Sojourner Truth, Harriet Tubman, Frances E. W. Harper, Ida B. Welles Barnett and Mary Church Terrell, president of the National Association of Colored Women founded in 1896. The Combahee River Collective opposed the practice of lesbian separatism, considering that, in practice, Separatists focused exclusively on sexist oppression and not on other oppressions (race, class, etc.)
The Combahee River Collective was one of the most important black socialist feminist organizations of all time. This group began meeting in Boston in 1974, a time when socialist feminism was thriving in Boston. The name Combahee River Collective was suggested by the founder and African-American lesbian feminist, Barbara Smith, and refers to the campaign led by Harriet Tubman who freed 750 slaves near the Combahee River in South Carolina in 1863. Smith said they wanted the name to mean something to African-American women, and that "it was a way of talking about ourselves being on a continuum of black struggle, of black women's struggle".
The members of this organization consisted of many former members of other political organizations that worked within the civil rights movement, anti-war movement, labor movement, and others. Demita Frazier, co-founder of the Combahee River Collective says these women from other movements found themselves "in conflict with the lack of a feminist analysis and in many cases were left feeling divided against [themselves]." The Combahee River Collective argued in 1974 that the liberation of black women entails freedom for all people, since it would require the end of racism, sexism, and class oppression.
As an organization, they were labeled as troublemakers and many said they were brainwashed by the man hating white feminist, that they didn't have their own mind, and they were just following in the white woman's footsteps. Throughout the 1970s, the Combahee River Collective met weekly to discuss the different issues concerning black feminists. They also held retreats throughout the Northeast from 1977 to 1979 to help "institutionalize black feminism" and develop an "ideological separation from white feminism".
As an organization they founded a local battered women's shelter and worked in partnership with all community activists, women and men, gay and straight playing an active role in the reproductive rights movement. The Combahee River Collective ended their work together in 1980 and is now most widely remembered for developing the Combahee River Collective Statement, a key document in the history of contemporary black feminism and the development of the concepts of identity.
Michelle Cliff believes that there is continuity "in the written work of many African American Women, ... you can draw a line from the slave narrative of Linda Brent to Elizabeth Keckley's life, to Their Eyes were Watching God (by Zora Neale Hurston) to Coming of Age in Mississippi (Anne Moody) to Sula (by Toni Morrison), to the Salt Eaters (by Toni Cade Bambara) to Praise Song for the Widow (by Paule Marshall)." Cliff believes that all of these women, through their stories, "Work against the odds to claim the 'I'".
Evelyn Hammonds begins her essay by reflecting, as a black lesbian and feminist writer, on the “consistently exclusionary practices of lesbian and gay studies” that produce such problematic paucities as: the presence of writers of color, articles written on black women’s sexuality by black women that complexly examine race in representations of gender, and the visibility of black lesbian experiences (Hammonds, 127). Hammonds articulates how whiteness defines the canonical “categories, identities, and subject positions” of lesbian and gay studies and depends of maintaining and presupposing patterns of black women and black lesbian sexualities’ invisibility and absence (Hammonds, 128). This articulation is directly linked to Hammonds concern about the visibility and audibility of black queer sexualities since if black women’s sexualities are perceived as always invisible or absent then that of lesbian and queer black women and authors must follow as doubly invisible. While white sexuality as the normative sexuality has been challenged by other writers Hammonds frames her intervention as reaching beyond the limits of this familiar critique. To effectively challenge the hegemony of whiteness within Queer theory Hammonds charges black feminists with the major projects of reclaiming sexuality so that black women and black women sexualities may register as present and power relations between white women and black women’s expression of gender and sexuality becomes a part of theory making within Queer studies. Black holes become a metaphor used to stage an intervention within Queer theory—Hammonds mobilizes this astrophysical phenomenon to provides a new way to approach the relationship between less visible (but still present) black female sexualities and the more visible (but not normal) white sexualities. Hammonds writes that in Queer studies’ “theorizing of difference” white female sexualities hold the position of visibility which is “theoretically dependent upon an absent yet-ever-present pathologized black female sexuality” (Hammonds, 131).
In 2018, Carol Giardian wrote an article, " Mow to Now: Black Feminism Resets the Chronology of the Founding of Modern Feminism." explores black women and their involvement with the organizing of the 1963 March on Washington (MOW). Particular focus is given to how this was pivotal to the shift of feminist organizing of the 1960s. Many activists are noted including Dorothy Height, Pauli Murray, and Anna Arnold Hedgeman. Facing down powerful male figures of the black church, they established feminist protest models that they subsequently used to inform the establishment of the National Organization for Women in 1966.
Within five organizations I studied-- the Third World Women's Alliance (1968-1979), the National Black Feminist Organization (1973-1975), the National Alliance of Black Feminists (1976-1980), the Combahee River Collective (1975–1980), and Black Women Organized for Action (1973–1980) – several thousand black women activists explicitly claimed feminism and defined a collective identity based on their race, gender, class, and sexual orientation claims.
The African Feminist Forum (AFF) is a biennial conference that brings together African feminist activists to deliberate on issues of key concern to the feminist movement. It was developed out of the growing concern amongst feminists on the continent, that the efforts to advance the rights of women on the continent were under serious threat from a number of sources. It took place for the first time in November 2006 in Accra, Ghana, and has subsequently convened in Uganda (2008), Senegal (2010) and in Harare, Zimbabwe (2016).Africana womanism
"Africana womanism" is a term coined in the late 1980s by Clenora Hudson-Weems intended as an ideology applicable to all women of African descent. It is grounded in African culture and Afrocentrism and focuses on the experiences, struggles, needs, and desires of Africana women of the African diaspora. It distinguishes itself from feminism, or Alice Walker's womanism. Africana womanism pays more attention to and gives more focus on the realities and the injustices in society in regard to race. Africana Womanism is geared to be absolutely African-centered. Even in the naming, Africa is at the center and in African cosmology, nommo is the proper naming of a thing which calls it into existence. Clenora Hudson-Weems sought to create a ideology specific to African women and women of African descent. Hudson-Weems believes that the creation of the ideology separates African women's accomplishments from African male scholars, feminism, and black feminism. In attempt to avoid being grouped in with other groups of people, Hudson-Weems decided it was time African women had their own ideology established by them. Thus, the terminology Africana Womanism, more appropriately fits the Africana woman, who is both Self-Namer and Self-Definer ("I have to Know Who I Am"). Such realities include the diverse struggles and experiences, and needs of Africana women.
The Africana Womanism Society lists 18 characteristics of The Africana womanist, including self-naming, self-defining, family-centered, flexible and desiring positive male companionship. The agenda for the Africana woman is, indeed, distinguishable from all other female based theories. Primarily because of its insistence upon the prioritizing of race, class and, gender in that order. The sharp contrast between brands of feminism and Africana Womanism has to do with the fact that feminism focuses on females and their empowerment ("I Have to Know Who I Am"). On the other hand, Africana womanism is a family-centered, race empowerment agenda. This ideology is based upon eighteen essential pillars: Self-Naming, Self-Definition, Family-Centeredness, In Concert With Men, Wholeness, Role Flexibility, Adaptability, Authenticity, Genuine Sisterhood, Male Compatibility, Recognition, Ambition, Nurturer, Strength, Respect, Respect for Elders, Mothering, Spirituality ("I am Because We Are: Africana Womanism as a Vehicle of Empowerment and Influence").Barbara Smith
Barbara Smith is an American lesbian feminist and socialist who has played a significant role in building and sustaining Black Feminism in the United States (US). Since the early 1970s, she has been active as a critic, teacher, lecturer, author, scholar, and publisher of Black feminist thought. She has also taught at numerous colleges and universities over the last 25 years. Smith's essays, reviews, articles, short stories and literary criticism have appeared in a range of publications, including The New York Times Book Review, The Black Scholar, Ms., Gay Community News, The Guardian, The Village Voice, Conditions and The Nation. Barbara has a twin sister, Beverly Smith, who is also a lesbian feminist activist and writer.Beyoncé 2018 Coachella performance
American singer Beyoncé headlined the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, performing on April 14 and 21 at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California. Making up for her cancellation of a headlining appearance at Coachella the previous year due to her pregnancy with twins, Beyoncé was the first African-American woman to headline the festival. Her performances paid tribute to the culture of historically black colleges and universities, featuring a full marching band and majorette dancers, while incorporating various aspects of black Greek life, such as a step show along with strolling by pledges. The performances were also influenced by black feminism, sampling black authors and featuring on-stage appearances by fellow Destiny's Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams as well as sister Solange Knowles.
Her performance of April 14 immediately received widespread critical praise, with many in the media describing the show as "historic". The performance was nicknamed "Beychella" by fans and the media. On April 17, 2019, Beyoncé released a concert film and live album of her performance entitled Homecoming.Combahee River Collective
The Combahee River Collective was a black feminist lesbian organization active in Boston from 1974 to 1980. The Collective was instrumental in highlighting that the white feminist movement was not addressing their particular needs. They are perhaps best known for developing the Combahee River Collective Statement, a key document in the history of contemporary black feminism and the development of the concepts of identity as used among political organizers and social theorists.Feminist activism in hip hop
Feminist activism in hip hop is a feminist movement based by hip hop artists. The activism movement involves doing work in graffiti, break dancing, and hip hop music. Hip hop has a history of being a genre that sexually objectifies and disrespects women ranging from the usage of video vixens to explicit rap lyrics. Within the subcultures of graffiti and breakdancing, sexism is more evident through the lack of representation of women participants. In a genre notorious for its sexualization of women, feminist groups and individual artists who identify as feminists have sought to change the perception and commodification of women in hip hop. This is also rooted in cultural implications of misogyny in rap music.Feminist ethics
Feminist ethics is an approach to ethics that builds on the belief that traditionally ethical theorizing has under-valued and/or under-appreciated women's moral experience, which is largely male-dominated, and it therefore chooses to reimagine ethics through a holistic feminist approach to transform it.Home Girls
Home Girls: A Black Feminist Anthology is a collection of Black lesbian and Black feminist writings, edited by Barbara Smith. The anthology includes different accounts from 32 black feminist women who come from a variety of different areas, culture, and classes. This collection of writings is intended to join black women together and encourage them to celebrate similarities that have often gone unnoticed. In the introduction, Smith states her belief that "Black feminism is, on every level, organic to Black experience". Writings within Home Girls support this belief through a series writings that exemplify black women's struggles within their race, gender, sexual orientation, culture, and home life. Topics and stories discussed in the writings often touch on subjects that in the past have been deemed as taboo, provocative, and profound.Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw (born 1959) is an American lawyer, civil rights advocate and a leading scholar of critical race theory who developed the theory of intersectionality. She is a full-time professor at the UCLA School of Law and Columbia Law School, where she specializes in race and gender issues. Crenshaw is also the founder of Columbia Law School's Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS) and the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), as well as the president of the Berlin-based Center for Intersectional Justice (CIJ).Crenshaw is known for the introduction and development of intersectionality, the theory of how overlapping or intersecting social identities, particularly minority identities, relate to systems and structures of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Her scholarship was also essential in the development of intersectional feminism which examines the overlapping systems of oppression and discrimination to which women are subject due to their ethnicity, sexuality and economic background.Michele Wallace
Michele Faith Wallace (born January 4, 1952) is a black feminist author, cultural critic, and daughter of artist Faith Ringgold. She is best known for her 1979 book Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman. Wallace's writings on literature, art, film, and popular culture have been widely published and have made her a leader of African-American intellectuals. She is a Professor of English at the City College of New York and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY).Misogynoir
Misogynoir is misogyny directed towards black women where race and gender both play roles in bias. The term was coined by queer black feminist Moya Bailey, who created the term to address misogyny directed toward black women in American visual and popular culture. Trudy of Gradient Lair, a womanist blog about black women and art, media, social media, socio-politics and culture, has also been credited in developing the lexical definition of the term.The concept is grounded in the theory of intersectionality, which analyzes how various social identities such as race, gender, class, and sexual orientation interrelate in systems of oppression.Olive Morris
Olive Elaine Morris (26 June 1952 – 12 July 1979) was a British community leader and activist in the feminist, black nationalist, and squatters' rights campaigns of the 1970s in the United Kingdom.Sheila White (abolitionist)
Sheila White (born 1988) is an African-American abolitionist and a former human trafficking victim from The Bronx, New York City.White grew up in a dysfunctional home and, during her teen years, was placed in foster care, where she was raped. She then attempted suicide and was transferred to a psychiatric hospital. At the age of 15, she was living in a group home, where she was abused by a pimp who forced her into prostitution. While a prostitute, White was battered, raped, and branded with irons. In 2003, she was battered next to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey without anyone even asking her if she needed help.White eventually escaped from being trafficked and went on to work with Girls Educational and Mentoring Services in order to raise awareness on the issue in New York, and President Obama recognized her work by personally giving her an award at the Clinton Global Initiative. She was interviewed in the documentary film Not My Life about her experiences while being trafficked, and said, "There is a point where you begin to feel numb. You really feel like you're not even a person." In 2013, she spoke at the Disrupting Slavery Symposium, the first symposium of the Somaly Mam Foundation, saying that "we need a platform in which a survivor has the support and comfort needed to become a leader in the field."She has three children and attends Bronx Community College, pursuing a Bachelor's degree in social work.Southall Black Sisters
Southall Black Sisters (SBS) is a non-profit all-Asian organisation based in Southall, West London, England. This Asian women's group was established in August 1979 in the aftermath of the death of anti-fascist activist Blair Peach, who had taken part in a demonstration against a National Front rally at Southall Town Hall. In 1980 SBS campaigned successfully against virginity testing in the UK, a policy which was being used to verify the authenticity of Asian marriages by checking the state of women's hymens.The personal is political
The personal is political, also termed The private is political, is a political argument used as a rallying slogan of student movement and second-wave feminism from the late 1960s. It underscored the connections between personal experience and larger social and political structures. In the context of the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s, it was a challenge to the nuclear family and family values. The phrase has been repeatedly described as a defining characterization of second-wave feminism, radical feminism, women's studies, or feminism in general.The phrase was popularized by the publication of a 1969 essay by feminist Carol Hanisch under the title "The Personal is Political" in 1970, but she disavows authorship of the phrase. According to Kerry Burch, Shulamith Firestone, Robin Morgan, and other feminists given credit for originating the phrase have also declined authorship. "Instead," Burch writes, "they cite millions of women in public and private conversations as the phrase's collective authors." Gloria Steinem has likened claiming authorship of the phrase to claiming authorship of "World War II."The phrase has heavily figured in Black Feminism, such as "A Black Feminist Statement" by the Combahee River Collective, Audre Lorde's essay "The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House", and the anthology This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color, edited by Gloria E. Anzaldúa and Cherríe Moraga. More broadly, as Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw observes: "This process of recognizing as social and systemic what was formerly perceived as isolated and individual has also characterized the identity politics of African Americans, other people of color, and gays and lesbians, among others."Tint (magazine)
Tint magazine is a quarterly global zine and independent magazine published in Detroit, Michigan. Though its motto "Celebrating Women of Every Color" targets all women, the magazine typically covers issues from the voices of women of color, and often from a politically left-wing perspective.
Tint began as a multicultural women's webzine, first published in 2004 by then college freshman Margarita L. Barry on the campus of Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. Created as a response to the lack of diverse faces and voices in mainstream women's publications, the first issue of Tint was launched in PDF format online that May. Barry never intended for the magazine to be a campus publication, though a misquote in the university's weekly newspaper, The BG News, hinted otherwise.
Tint has been loosely linked to several subcultures and movements, including Transculturation, DIY Culture, Arts and Crafts Movement, Anarcho-punk, Afro-punk, Zine, Feminism, Black Feminism, Grassroots, and Activism.
To date, Tint has featured cover stories on a unique blend of women including actress/vocalist Alisa Reyes, actress/vocalist Persia White, and recording artist Goapele, all celebrities of multiethnic heritages with notable grassroots arts or activism involvement. In addition to celebrity interviews, Tint also regularly features stories on everyday women who are making their own individual impacts on the world. The publication maintains a small but relevant cross-cultural readership and following.
Tint is rumored to be taking a more local slant in the year 2007, incorporating both digital and print editions.Triple oppression
Triple oppression is a theory developed by black socialists in the United States, such as Claudia Jones. The theory states that a connection exists between various types of oppression, specifically classism, racism, and sexism. It hypothesizes that all three types of oppression need to be overcome at once. It is also referred to as "double jeopardy", Jane Crow, or triple exploitation.Womanism
Womanism is a social theory based on the history and everyday experiences of black women. It seeks, according to womanist scholar Layli Maparyan (Phillips), to "restore the balance between people and the environment/nature and reconcil[e] human life with the spiritual dimension". The writer Alice Walker coined the term womanist in a short story, "Coming Apart", in 1979. Since Walker's initial use, the term has evolved to envelop varied, and often opposing interpretations of conceptions such as feminism, men, and blackness.Womanist theology
Womanist theology is a religious conceptual framework which reconsiders and revises the traditions, practices, scriptures, and biblical interpretation with a special lens to empower and liberate African-American women in America. Womanist theology associates with and departs from Feminist theology and Black theology specifically because it integrates the perspectives and experiences of African American and other women of color. The former's lack of attention to the everyday realities of women of color and the latter's lack of understanding of the full dimension of liberation from the unique oppressions of black women require bringing them together in Womanist Theology. The goals of womanist theology include interrogating the social construction of black womanhood in relation to the black community and to assume a liberatory perspective so African American women can live emboldened lives within the African American community and within the larger society. Some of its tasks are excavating the life stories of poor women of African descent in the church and to understanding the "languages" of black women.