Friday, August 27, 2010
As a young Black female doctoral student and a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. in the year 2010, I identify as what some may label a “young feminist”. I recently entered a sisterhood of African American women that began at a time when we had limited voice, limited opportunities, and limited resources partnered with a rich legacy and a more than promising future. The founders of this organization – like so many others – grew up in an America wherein the “us vs. them” tension governed. Many – including myself – agree that this dichotomy continues to reign. However, as a young feminist, I identify with my founding sisters and those sisters who fought for the 19th Amendment. You see, for those who don’t know, some of those who marched down Philadelphia Ave. weren’t fighting an “us vs. them” battle. They were fighting for all women; all “feminists.” Unfortunately, some of their fellow marchers were fighting for the few. They were fighting for their mirrored reflections and denying their sisters in the other room. And more unfortunately, this system of thought/behavior continues.
90 years after the passing of the 19th Amendment and almost 100 years after the 1913 march in Washington, I deny, denounce, and deplore any assertions that I am not a feminist. I am a part of the new wave of feminism because I refuse to reaffirm age-old systems of feminist claims by which sexism is fought against and yet systems of racism, ageism, or classism are sustained. My moral integrity, my organizational affiliations, and my education simply will not allow for it. It is with tears in my eyes that I must acknowledge that there continues to be an “us vs. them” mentality amongst any oppressed social group. It pains me that some women can be as hypocritical – yes, I said hypocritical – so much as to argue that they fight for women’s rights and yet they mean white women or women of color or young women or older women or upper class women or working class women or any other compartmentalization.
If, as equalists, – which all feminists should identify themselves as – we seek solidarity, camaraderie, transparency, civic responsibility, and above all…progress, then we must replace the “or” with “and.” So for me, from the brave founders of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. to the actresses in Iron Jawed Angels, from bell hooks and Sojourner Truth to Susan B. Anthony and Belva Lockwood, we must move beyond drawing lines in the sand. We – yes, we – can identify as feminists in 5 inch Mahnolo Blahniks or in fabulously comfortable Aerosole flats. We can burn bras or push ‘em up. What matters is that we stand together, not divided. (Please excuse the list of clichés, but they are so apropos.) Moral of the story ::: I AM A FEMINIST ::: no further distinction necessary.