The choice to use the term feminist to describe a significant part of my personality is greatly because, although it’s not a fashionable term, it’s the one that describes the inner revolution caused by the anger, or rage even, and the sadness that I feel about our world being often detrimentally defined by “his-story”. And anyway I’m not someone who wants to believe in things because they are fashionable.
That said, it is of not much importance what terms people use to define things they believe in, it’s what they believe in that matters. However, when a person describes themself as feminist despite its tellingly provoking capacity, I tend to read it as a sign that the person means business about being fed up with millennia of women’s oppression.
To question, analyze and be vigilant of one’s privilege is an admirable quality in a person. Whether it’s for example heterosexual people who are gay right’s advocates, or white people who actively oppose racism towards non-whites, or as the case is here, men who care strongly about women’s issues, there’s something truly humble to it.
It’s good news when black men who despite themselves being subject to structural, institutional and everyday racism, challenge their male privilege, the double oppression that black women face and the neo-black afrocentricism that denies that gender inequality is a problem despite that black African “sisters” pay the heaviest price for patriarchy (socio-economically, politically and culturally).
Last year on International Women’s Day I interviewed Dan Tres Omi, a black male feminist. We spoke about Wangari Maathai, Phoolan Devi and pan-Africanism among other things. I’m keeping with the tradition of highlighting black male feminism this International Women’s Day. Yup. Last year at this time I still thought that black male feminist approaches were few and far between, and so it was actually encouraging that it was so hard for me to choose seven of my favourite posts offering a black male feminist perspective that I’ve been bookmarking since. Here goes:
1. Mark Anthony Neal, a ‘New Black Man’ with Farai Chideya on NPR
2. Why I Am a Male Feminist – by Byron Hurt in The Root
3. African Feminism and the dilemma of Class by Mukoma Wa Ngugi in African Writing
4. The negative effects of being a so-called ‘real man’ by Mbuyiselo Botha in The Sowetan
5. 7 Thomas Sankara Quotes about women right here on the blog
6. Why black men should become feminists by Symeon Brown in The Voice
7. Growing pains of a black male feminist by Mychal Denzel Smith in The Root
What do you think?
photo credit: Steve Snodgrass
Mychal Denzel Smith says
Hi, you attributed the essay “Growing Pains of a Male Feminist” to Michael Eric Dyson. That was actually written by me, Mychal Denzel Smith.
Thanks for letting me know, Mychal.
Black. Gay. Atheist. Feminist. That’s me. No turning back on it.
Ikenna Azuike says
this post reminded me that i in fact wrote my final year dissertation on feminist economic theory. waaay back in 2002! damn.
That sounds V interesting!