The Lory Student Center Theater was filled with students, faculty and community members Tuesday that were eager for “Black Girl Dangerous” creator and self-described radical queer black nationalist feminist Mia McKenzie.
McKenzie is an award-winning writer and prides herself in being black and queer, traits often reflected in her work. In addition to writing and running the podcast “Black Girl Dangerous” and BGD Press, McKenzie currently tours universities and other venues, and CSU was one of her stops during LGBT history month and on National Coming Out Day.
“It was fantastic,” said student and Women and Gender Advocacy center employee, Connor McFarland. “I really appreciate Mia McKenziem and I think that having a black queer woman talk about radical feminism is really important than just some other white person,”
McKenzie has a strong, concise and clear message; her voice demands to be heard, and she commands the room.
This event consisted of two main parts: a speech and a question and answer session. In her speech, McKenzie discussed ten main points of advice for the audience to advance as society and to understand each other and move towards a harmonious world.
The first point was to resist liberalism. McKenzie stresses how we don’t need liberal change; we need radical change.
The second point was to eliminate “tone policing.” McKenzie describes tone policing as the idea that those who are oppressed are only allowed to speak of their oppression if the tone they speak in is acceptable for those doing the oppressing. It is important that we dismantle this idea. Primarily, because it is a lie. Talks of oppression has been approached in every way from quiet, civil, polite, strong, violent and savage. The fact of the matter is that people just don’t want to listen to it, and McKenzie said that is not okay.
Her third point was that allies who will leave if they get uncomfortable by those speaking about oppression are not good allies if even allies at all.
The fourth point focused on rejecting responsibility politics. McKenzie described responsibility politics as the concept of that in order to be justly protected you have to have been deemed respectable enough. We see this at times where a young black man is shot by the police and is only mourned in the media if he is college bound. Everyone needs to be protected, not just those with a success story.
Her fifth point said that hurt feelings aren’t oppression. If one is seen as privileged in a certain area getting lightly teased isn’t oppression because they are still reaping the benefits of their privilege and haven’t suffered in the same way as oppressed people.
The sixth point was to put the people with the most oppression in the center of the movement. Feminism is not just white women. Black Lives Matter isn’t just for the black men. Yet these are the people we see as the faces of the movement. McKenzie describes this as “trickle down justice.” It’s the idea that because the people at the top of the hierarchy got justice, everyone will, and this often doesn’t work. McKenzie uses the example of if a disabled black transgender woman got justice and equal rights, everyone will have justice and equal rights.
McKenzie’s seventh point was about how privileged people cannot navel-gaze oppression. Acknowledging privilege isn’t enough. McKenzie urges us to push back against this. We need to go deeper. McKenzie argues that we need to talk about white supremacy, not just white privilege.
“It does not do just to be educated you must act upon it,” said CSU student Sienna Huebner.
The eighth point said not to expect free education from oppressed people. It is not their job to explain the history and the modern implications of their movement. People need to take it upon themselves to educate themselves. McKenzie argues that there is no excuse in modern society to be ignorant. The internet allows us to all be published and to publicly share our stories of oppression. And, once we get and understand this information, encourage your friends to educate themselves as well.
Her ninth point told the audience to not speak for the oppressed. If one does not identify as queer, they do not have the right to speak on their behalf. They may amplify the queer voice, share the voice, but they can not speak over or in place of it.
And, the final point was to stop quoting Martin Luther King Jr. McKenzie provides a lot of reasons for this. She explained how most modern black people do not automatically agree with everything MLK has said. He was not the only one leading the civil rights movement, so McKenzie said don’t quote the oppressed of the past to combat the voice of the oppressed of the present. MLK was a straight black cis man. The only voice he can speak to is this one. This isn’t to say MLK shouldn’t be valued, it is just his words shouldn’t be always unconditionally accepted.
After her hour long speech, McKenzie went into a 30 minute question and answer session where she pulled questions audience members had written before the event out of a jar. McKenzie also made it a point, as she does in all her speeches, to answer primarily the questions she believes to reflect those with more oppression under the idea that only in a world where everyone is equal is everyone’s question and opinion is equal.
Big takeaways from this question and answer session were the pieces of advise she gave: be accountable for everyone, listen to the oppressed and whose liberation you are working towards, bring all parts of you and your potential intersectionality to all spaces, it takes time to be fully comfortable and proud of who you are, you have the right to be angry at times, do not hide your anger, be fully yourself and think outside of your little convenient frame work.
Her speech ended with a standing ovation and the raffling off of six of McKenzie’s signed book “The Summer We Got Free.”
For more inspiration from McKenzie, visit blackgirldangerous.org.