Recently, I found myself in a conversation with someone I was acquainted with from the so called Black Woman Empowerment spaces on my Google account. Though me and her had some discord in the past, I had moved on past it and forgave each other. But I did notice her passive aggressive taunts and subtle anger in her responses on the Google chat. It made me uneasy. However, it wasn’t until a friend of mine told me that she was basically gas-lighting and intimidating me. It dawned on me that she wasn’t someone to continue communicating with so I blocked her from my account. Hence my interaction with her sparks the topic of the drama and mistreatment of Black women in these spaces and it intersects with the state of Black Feminism/Womanism and the so called Black Woman Empowerment spaces.
Infighting and backbiting is a major problem with women, regardless of their race. As in any other space that is predominately female, there was a lot of it in the Black Feminist/Womanist and the so called Black Woman Empowerment spaces I frequented. Some of these conflicts were based on a mere difference of opinion on a particular subject on the same thread. Much of these disagreements lead to arguments and fights. Unfortunately, there was a problem with group polarization and confirmation bias in the so called Black Woman Empowerment spaces. I found myself walking on eggshells when it come to expressing my opinions in these spaces; I would modify or change my opinions so that I wouldn’t be attacked. If I, or any other woman, expressed any differing opinions, one would be called a racist/sexist terms such as Mammy to silence her. How is this any different from the misogynist Black men,who call Black women heauxs and hoes for disagreeing with them? There were major rumors especially untrue rumors started by other women about other women. Especially the one rumor about me not being a Black woman, because my Facebook profile looked fishy DESPITE the fact that I posted pictures of myself and used my government name as the name on my Facebook profile. Worst of all, I didn’t even know these women but they were starting rumors about me based on what they saw on my Facebook profile. Though I am aware that all women speak about one another, it hurts to see women, who profess to be ”pro Black woman” spread false rumors about other Black women. As for the woman I blocked, she actually played an active role in perpetuating much discord in these spaces.
Originally, I friend her on Facebook while she still used her government name. At first, I enjoyed my conversations with her and I related well to her when it comes to domestic concerns with our families. But I noticed somethings that were quite odd about her. She would always delete and make another Facebook profile but under another name or alias. She also was quite immature and lacked much experience that I would have expected a woman in her mid to late twenties would have. Something about her didn’t sit right with me. Then it came out that she had back stabbed a close friend of mine and spread a rumor about her. This friend of mine blocked her. But I decided not to give up on her because I had some sympathy for her due to the issues she went through with her family. Then she started another incident where she tried to friend Aysha Bee and some of the women picked up on her constant messaging women on social media. She was ousted from many BWE and Black Feminist groups. I cut her off because I found much of her actions suspicious. I went months without contacting her until she contacted me again through messaging. This time, she was quite vindictive and was always harping about the incident where she was ousted from many of those groups. She even took out her problems on me to the point that I tried to cut her off. She was persistent and used aliases to track me down and try to apologize for her actions. I accepted all of this until I contacted a friend about it and he suggested I cut her off for good, which I did.
Along with the infighting and drama I saw in these spaces, I am also disgusted by the misogynistic, classist and respectability politics leaning aspects of these groups. I saw comments and posts, that put down single mothers, woman from lower echelons of society and overweight women. Though I used to frequent those spaces, I never agreed with many women putting down single mothers or overweight women. In fact, I had a lot of disdain for one of the posts that they had put out about a single mother with five children and three more on the way while her boyfriend was in prison. It was disgusting to read these remarks from these women, because they don’t know the full extent of this woman’s situation. Nor have they walked in these women’s shoes. I also disagree with their rhetoric that overweight Black woman are somehow a threat or a danger to the image of Black women. Though I am not overweight myself, I believe that it is much better to actively and helpfully encourage overweight women to lose weight instead of shaming them. However, a major hurdle to much of these messages is their disdain for women of lower income or working class background. I happen to be a college student of working class background. It offended me to see so many of these BWE gurus blaming working class and poor Black women for their lack of opportunities in education, housing, employment, healthcare and the workforce. None of these women took into account that there were many policies and institutionalized racism that held back Black people’s advancement in education, healthcare and housing in society. The truth of the matter is that acknowledging the effects of structural racism will make these women to realize that it was the same White men, whom they were propelling on the pedestal as saviors, that created much of these same problems that are being discussed. I believe it is a form of cognitive dissonance. This form of cognitive dissonance in the BWE spaces is the same cognitive dissonance many Black women have when it comes to their one sided and unrequited loyalty to the Black man. Only this time, their gods and saviors are White men. I wrote about this in my post, Trading In One Form of Oppressor For Another: Why I No Longer Look at BWE sites. To add insult to injury, many of their misogynistic language towards Black women, who disagree with them is also distasteful. Names such as Mammy being flung at Black women, who disagree with them, not only reinforces White supremacist stereotypes about Black women, it also says alot about the women, who use such terms to describe other Black women. Most of all, frequenting these spaces took up much of my time and energy and distracted me from my coursework as a college student. So I deleted my Facebook profile and stay away from such spaces o focus on school and getting my life together.
What is my opinion about the state of Black Feminism/Womanism?
Black Feminism/Womanism is a different philosophy from the so called Black Woman Empowerment philosophy. Womanism is a term coined by author, Alice Walker to distinguish Black Feminism apart from mainstream feminism. Womanism is a philosophy that discusses the issues Black women face when it comes to race and gender. Black Feminism/Womanism also discusses classism, transphobia, lesbianism and other intersectional issues Black women face. Black Woman’s Empowerment is an online movement started by the likes of Khadijah Nassif, Faith Dow and Halima Anderson. The Black Woman Empowerment is an online social justice movement that discusses issues that Black women go through, but it lacks the same approach to the racism and other intersectional issues Black women face that Black Feminism/Womanism entails. Often times, there is an overlap when discerning the difference between Black Feminism/Womanism and Black Woman’s Empowerment when it is brought up in discussions on online forums. Despite the similarities between their primary focus on Black women, these philosophies are different and should’t automatically be seen as the same thing.
I believe that Black Feminism/Womanism is in a state of stagnation. There isn’t many younger generations of Black feminists coming up to replace the likes of Alice Walker, Bell Hooks and Patricia Hill Collins. The few Black feminists that I have interacted with and seen didn’t seem genuine to me nor did they really understand the intersectional oppression that came with being Black and female in this country. Honestly, I believe that Black Feminism/Womanism has lost sight of what is really important:Black women coming together to solve issues that Black women, uniquely, face in society. Instead, there is alot of back and forth bickering about transgender rights and trying to see if a particular biracial woman is ‘Black’ or not. I felt like many of the women in these spaces wanted to assimilate into White society instead of dismantling the system, itself. It isn’t much different from the Black men, who preach against the evils of White supremacy, but aims to marry White woman and assimilate into society. Often times, I felt that many Black Feminists were quite selective in the type of Black woman that they would rally behind. If one feminist didn’t like a particular Black woman, she would bash or disparage the Black woman. I even saw many of them throw other Black women under the bus for the approval of non Blacks and Black men. Worst of all, many of these women still held misogynistic sentiments and views of Black women yet they made blogs and groups dedicated to Black women. In many ways, they weren’t much different from the BWE spaces either. Worst of all, many Black Feminists and BWE women operated the same way the likes of Tommy Sotomayor and other anti Black woman haters did when it comes to anything pertaining Black women.
What is my opinion on the state of the so called Black Woman Empowerment spaces?
Throughout the whole discussion, I thoughtfully discussed what I felt was wrong with these spaces. But how I really feel about the state of the so called Black Woman Empowerment is that it is in a slow rate of decline. At it’s peak, the BWE was helpful and taught Black women to get out of limited thinking, put themselves first, cut off those who aren’t beneficial to their livelihood and secure quality mates to marry and settle down with, regardless of the race of the man, in question. Sites like Muslim Bushido(I will admit, I am still quite fond of the site) were one of the primary blogs that were valuable to the Black woman’s mental and emotional health. I suspect that interracial blogger, Christelyn Kazarin helped derail the movement after she allowed commenters on her blog, Beyond Black and White, bash the founding members of the BWE Movement. Or was it the water down versions of BWE that promoted the White man as their savior? Who knows? Unfortunately, the message went from Black women, who are actually empowering themselves by making better choices to Black women propelling White man as their savior from societal ills. It was all so sickening. Even the actions of some of Breukelen Bleu’s followers led me to unsubscribe from her on Youtube, though I believe that the message behind her videos is something that Black woman should listen to. I believe the whole movement is going down a slippery slope due to the actions of the women in it and their overlooking systematic racism’s effects on Black women. At the end of the day, much of their actions will be their own undoing.
Most of all, I learned that the majority of Black American women aren’t particularly interested in forming a sisterhood. So I also learned that political correctness and identity politics doesn’t come into fruition if everyone else isn’t adhering to it. And that was the case that I saw in those spaces. Though I am completely done with the so called Black Woman Empowerment spaces, I am not sure if I could really call myself a Black Feminist/Womanist anymore either. So I guess it is best to focus on elevating myself by going to classes, graduate with my degree on time and focus on building up my career. After all, there isn’t any use letting things like this get the best of us when there is so much more to do in life.