The Black/African American Culture Center holds Real Talk each week, a student-facilitated discussion where students are encouraged to share their thoughts on topics such as social stratification, current events and intersections of identities. The topic this week was Black Feminism, and with it brought a room full of excited students with many different inputs and a mutual desire to make the topic known.
The discussion started by defining feminism, challenging modern feminism ideals and its questionable application to all identities. Much of the dialogue centered around the history of Black Feminism and how Black women are being erased from mainstream feminism.
“A lot of white feminists feel uncomfortable with Black Feminism because there is this idea if you adhere to feminism you can not be sexist, and if you have oppressed identities you can not be an oppressor,” said second-year CSU student Tricia Alexander who attended Real Talk and also presented at facilitation this weekend at CSU’s Women’s Conference on Black Feminism. “A lot of white feminists find themselves in this void where they think, ‘How can I be sexist or oppressive to Black women when I am a woman who is oppressed?’ That’s why Black feminists came about because they felt left out of the feminist movement.”
Students talked about the true history of the term ‘intersectionality’ in regards to feminism. Kimberlé Crenshaw, a Black feminist, civil rights advocate and a leading scholar in critical race theory, coined the term intersectionality. She saw that Black women’s voices were being silenced in both the Civil Rights Movement and the feminist movement, an intersection of oppression. Attendees discussed that being a Black feminist is not simply the characteristics of being Black or and also a feminist, it is seeing things through a lens of multiplied oppression and acting on it.
Participants of Real Talk agreed that intersectionality can and should be applied to other identities but should not be seen as “oppression Olympics.” Instead, the intersecting of identities should be recognized and understood that these intersections bring about different experiences with different institutions.
Those who attended were given the opportunity to listen to other student’s perspectives, raise their hands and weigh in. While student facilitators had questions to guide the group discussion, participators broadened the discussion by bringing in perspectives on defining liberation, the feminine, individual experiences and intersectionality.
“I think the main themes that came in this talk were trying to highlight the urgency of the need to understand Black Feminist thought,” said senior ethnic studies and sociology student Kahlea Kahbir. “It was very clear that it was untouched territory for a lot of people. We are at a predominantly white institution that is working in a framework of white, hegemonic, patriarchal capitalism, where Black Feminist thought it erased. It was a clear that there was a need to go there.”
Third-year student and regular attendee of Real Talk Jakya Bridges talked about how Black Feminism was made to create a space for Black women; Real Talk provides a similar function on CSU’s campus.
“I feel like a lot the time as an African American woman I am not necessarily provided an outlet to feel comfortable enough discussing issues that are relevant to my life and issues that are not necessarily reflected on and verbalized,” Bridges said. “Real Talk, depending on their topics, really provides that outlet to express myself and talk to other people and get their perspectives.”
During the talk, it was reiterated several times that the space was for learning. Not knowing something or using the right word was validated and considered OK.
Real Talk ended with the encouragement for students go out and learn by reading and taking ethnic studies and women’s studies courses.
Go to baacc.colostate.edu to learn more about the weekly Real Talks.
Collegian reporter Miranda Moses can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @mirandasrad.