Happy New Year!
I’m especially excited about two things in 2020. Firstly, the 10th anniversary of my blog on 16 March. Then three days later, on 19 March, the UK book launch for Sensuous Knowledge, my debut collection of interwoven essays that centre womanhood, African Studies, black feminism, philosophy, personal narrative, myth, art and culture in knowledge production. The enchanting novelist and poet Chris Abani says Sensuous Knowledge is “inclusive, rigorous in process and thought… a strong and important testament, the map perhaps, for now, and the future”, and the prolific and liberatory writer, Bernardine Evaristo, says it’s “a probing, challenging and imaginative book that dares position black feminism as the prism through which we can all better experience and understand the world”. Keep an eye out for the special 10-year anniversary post I’m planning as well as for the book launch plans. I can’t wait to share the book, which you can pre-order here, with you. 🙂
As 2019 came to an end, I had the privilege of discussing two favourite topics, feminist history and feminist futures, in three publications’ end/beginning of year round-ups.
For the Guardian, I contributed with hopes for the future. For Morgenbladet, Norway’s leading weekly, I shared my reflections of the past feminist decade. Lastly for the most read Catalan newspaper, Ara.Cat, I contributed with a prediction for feminism in the 2020s.
To these past and future reflections, I am adding a question that seldom gets analysed but ought to be – what is the goal of feminism right now? Not yesterday or tomorrow – today. Because what we do in the present is the best way to foresee the future. The most valued quality in a feminist future will be a reflection of it’s most valued quality today.
One of the important things for feminism-at-large to do in the present, right now, is to encourage clarity. The world is an increasingly confusing place, and everyone is seeking answers everywhere. For feminism to continue to be a place of answers, it must provide clarity. The clearer we are about the issues we are resisting, the greater the chance of success. Whether it is a patriarchal state, a Eurocentric capitalist nature-destroying culture, a dominant spouse, or an impossibly bureaucratic body of power, the oppressor’s main tactic is always to prevent clarity because the end of deception is the beginning of freedom.
The methods of preventing clarity range from direct suppression tactics to using technology to “divide and conquer” as well as to dull our minds and foster a sense of hopelessness. As Aditya Chakrabortty writes this week in an excellent piece explaining the sense of apathy that marks our times, “What value in a glorious future when the present is so chaotic? What’s the point of grand designs drawn up in Westminster when daily life for the public is a prosaic mess?”
To encourage clarity, we’ll need to fight for qualities such as depth, enlivenment, borderlessness, conscientiousness, dialogue, Eros, poetry, stillness, beauty, compassion, mystery, wisdom, honesty. All things that are diminished because they have been categorised as “feminine” but that are necessary for deep transformation and lasting change. As Audre Lorde wrote in “Poetry is not a luxury” (pdf), to think of poetry as a luxury is to discard “what we need to dream.”
Feminism today, a feminism of the now, needs to resist the fleeting, robotic, superficial, performative and soulless life that capitalist patriarchy in the Anthropocene has resorted to so that we will lack both the skill and passion to oppose it. It needs to not only make us bolder but also wiser and consequently more at ease and peace, the two things a patriarchal system never wants women to be.