Friday, October 21, 2016

#WS3330F: Blog Post #6: Lydia Weigel - Black Feminist Thought

Gender, Race and Migration: Black Feminist Thought

Black Feminist Thought is situated in a global and transitional world. It looks to the future, while paying homage and respect to the past. What is unique to Black Feminist Thought, is that it is sustained through an unspoken spirituality that is not prevalent in the white feminist movement. The memories of slavery, migration and resilience offers another perspective of social transformation that is needed to equalize the lives of Canadian Black Women in mainstream white society.

Theorizing Empowerment: Canadian Perspectives on Black Feminist Thought is a key collection of essays evaluating feminist theorizing in Canada. Jazmine Zine, Assistant Professor in the department of Sociology at Wilfrid Laurier University reviews ‘It is indeed empowering to read the new critical imaginings of Canadian Black Feminist scholar/activists as they theorize the fractured and shifting spaces of identity, community, and nation in a globalized post-modern world.’ As mentioned, its focus on spirituality is endearing. Through Wane and Neegan’s deeply engaging essays and research on spirituality between rural women in Embu Kenya, and Burnt Ground, Jamaica, we come to see spiritualty as a form of resistance. This reliance on spirituality is indicative when exploring African resistance. This spirituality, not necessarily religious often connects Black Canadian women, but it act as somewhat of unspoken kinship. African ancestry connects the lives of many Black Canadian Women today. At the bottom of this page there is YouTube clip, of three Black women who met each other 30 years ago in Russia, having been reunited after all this time, they express in a conversational, colloquial manner why they felt so connected to each other all those years ago, which I believe is a great example of placing Wane and Neegan’s research into a ‘real world’ context and explaining this spirituality.

When looking at Black Feminism, it is vital to acknowledge that Black women experience a very different kind of oppression, one that is racist, sexists and classist. This is referred to as Triple Jeopardy. Black Canadian Feminists must then have an awareness of what ‘others’ they are not. This brings us to the question, can sisterhood ever truly be an inclusive movement? What feminism means to the white woman, is very different to what it means to the women of colour. Black feminisms runs counter to the mainstream view, whereas white feminism works within its realms. Canadian mainstream feminists have repeatedly tried to address the particulars of women’s oppression, however, what works for white women, doesn’t necessarily work for women of colour, e.g. the issue of domestic violence. Thus Black Feminism is necessary to empower black women, not just within the context of Canada, but all around the world. Black Canadian Feminist theory holds the stories of many Black women living in Canada which not only provides them with recognition but provides them with a framework that shine light to other Black women who paved the way.

Incorporating spirituality into our everyday lives: what I like to call a ‘self-care checklist’
(Taken from Theorizing Empowerment: Wane and Neegan, pg42)

  • 1.       Begin with nurturing the inner self.
  • 2.       Become aware of our weaknesses and strive.
  • 3.       Ritualize our lives through methods such as singing, storytelling, humour, ceremonies.
  • 4.       Constantly remind ourselves of who we are and where we come from and that the spirit that live in us lives in all of nature’s creations.
  • 5.       Constantly remind ourselves that spirituality evolves from exploring and coming to know and experience the nature of living energy moving in each of us, through us and around us.
  • 6.       Provide room for growth and learning from others.
  • 7.       Recognize the right for every individual to explore their spiritual identity whether it is religious or not
  • 8.       Understand the challenges of bringing spirituality into public spaces such as the academy
  • 9.       Acknowledge and accept there are multiple spiritual ways of knowing and that African women’s spirituality is just one of them
  • 10.   Aim for inner peace, including the understanding of multiple knowledge systems
  • 11.   Understanding the colonial context of what happened to spiritual knowledge and ways of knowing, how power permeates societal structures, and how this power is disseminated through pedagogical practices.

A cross-continental black sisterhood rekindled after 30 years:
Barbara Smith, ‘That’s not going to work for us’:

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