I Crashed A Radical Black Feminist Reading Group
Recently I discovered there was a Radical Black Feminism reading group in NYC that discusses Black issues, and Black feminism within social movements. The group is hosted by NYC Democratic Socialists of America, one of the largest socialist organizations in the United States. Democratic Socialists believe that democracy should truly be for the people instead of large corporations and private companies that politics tend to favor at the expense of the working class.
Black feminism is a response to issues, such as racism and class, not being addressed in the mainstream feminist discourse. For many black women, when they pointed out any issues and discussion on racism and how it affects them differently than their white counterparts, they were pushed to the side.
The group who attended was a healthy mix of Black, White, and Asian people who were interested in learning more about democratic socialism, Black feminism, and building solidarity while acknowledging the privileges and anti-black sentiments that they were raised with.
We discussed ways to build alliances and solidarity between races, while acknowledging the privileges some allies have. The need of intersectionality in feminism has been shown in the past few years, with the rise of police brutality, poverty rates, and distrust in the current political system on both sides. Many marginalized people also question how the current government will not only infringe on their rights, but how much of Obama’s eight years of progress will be pushed back due to Trump’s administration.
The group also questioned how certain protests can appear to others. They compared, for example, the Women’s March and the Black Lives Matter march in Ferguson, Missouri. In the Women’s March, the pink pussy hats, which became a symbol for the entire movement in the public’s eyes, were criticized for alienating women of color, trans women, and gender non-binary people whose genitals are either brown or aren’t vaginas. Also, people noticed that a lot of signs were hinting that if Hillary Clinton won, there wouldn’t be anything to protest.
During the Black Lives Matter march in Ferguson, Missouri, there was a question of who made the call about white allies talking to the cops instead of black people during a Black Lives Matter march. In many other marches against police brutality, white allies are occasionally told to stand in the back during police standoffs so that people of color can air their grievances while the allies show support. It wasn’t clear if the allies talking to the police instead was agreed beforehand, or if it was an example of allies pushing themselves into the front of the movement.
The Radical Black Feminism reading group is a welcoming space for people who are interested in delving into feminism outside of the popular, yet base level that everyone is familiar with. I think, in a time where there’s a lot of people who benefit from keeping others divided, learning something from one another will help build solidarity.
Check out the Radical Black Feminism Reading Group hosted by the NYC Democratic Socialists of America. They meet every Monday until August 27th.
Donasia Sykes is a freelance writer, avid podcast listener, and nail polish collector. She graduated with a BA in English/ Creative Writing and she currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. Follow her Instagram and Twitter.