When no she did not have good hair:

When I was younger I used to hang out with this girl named Becky— and no she did not have good hair: it was just alright. One day she asked four other girls and I to play house. As always Becky took it upon herself to designate the roles we were going to be playing. But you’ll never believe what she did. She gave everyone in the group a role and then turned to me and said “Alex you’re gonna have to sit out on this game”, because she didn’t have a role for me to play. I would like to mention that I was the only black girl in our playgroup and I always seemed to get no part or a cameo role. I eventually got tired of Becky’s antics and found my own friends to play house with. As I grew up and began studying and reading about black feminism and remembered my time as Becky’s “friend”, I noticed the way Becky treated me is the same way black women are treated by white women leading feminist movements. Becky claimed that she wanted us to always play together and be nice, but when it came down to it, I was always the one excluded. White women in the feminist movement love to claim women empowerment and banding together to push back against the common enemy but always exclude woman of color. My goal in telling this story is not to oversimplify the treatment of black women in movements or the consequences of white feminism. This story instead provides a personal modern-day connection to how white women have historically worked in feminist movements and how black feminism is created. For example, my personal story is not the only example of black feminism in modern day and how it can even be extended through art. Now in the third wave of feminism after the work of women of color has been published for over 30 plus years it causes us to ask the question, How has the work of the late 60s and early 70s black feminists influenced modern figures of black feminism? After research and analysis of literary works and interviews, This bridge called my back: Anthology by Audre lorde, Angela Davis:Blues legacies and Black Feminism, Paula giddings: When and where I enter, Audre Lorde:The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House,Gloria Steinem interview: Black women have always been more feminist than white women, Divided Sisters: Bridging the Gap Between Black Women and White Women by Midge Wilson and Kathy Russell what would bell hooks say” bell hooks interview, and bell hooks: interview and Book: Ain’t I a Woman, the work of late 60 and early 70s black feminist has prompted women of color in modern day to critique white feminism and start movements of their own that deconstruct racist or oppressive systems. To answer this research question, this paper will explore the History of feminism, the definition and substance of black feminism, who are black feminists and what they have to say, why is what they’re saying important, and how does all of this relate to modern day.  According to Rebecca Walker, an American feminist, writer, and activist, the history of feminism can be divided into three waves. The first feminist wave was in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the second was in the 1960s and 1970s, and the third extends from the 1990s to the present. Feminist theory emerged from these movements. It is manifest in a variety of disciplines such as feminist geography, feminist history, and feminist literary criticism. The hypocrisy in the feminist movement since the first wave has prompted many women of color who were Poets, writers, educators, and historians to speak up against the movement. The second wave of feminism in the late 60s and early 70s is where women of color have exposed the truth to the movement that claimed to fight for their rights and existence, but in reality, only prioritized and spoke for the rights of white women in America while also steering away from the idea of intersectionality. This train of thinking bread the Black Feminism Movement which can be defined as Black feminism is a school of thought stating that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are inextricably bound together according to Patricia Hill Collins, a professor of Sociology at Maryland College Park. Black women involved in activism such as Angela Davis, Paula Giddings, Bell hooks, and Audre Lorde who through their literary works critiqued the feminist movement helped promote the idea that feminist movements lacked intersectionality. When addressing this question we first need to know the issue that black feminists were addressing. The main problem was that the exclusion of intersectionality in the feminist movement has made it an advocacy group led by and promoted for mainly middle-class white women. Audre Lorde mentions this exact issue in a letter she wrote to a woman she was acquainted with. The woman Lorde was addressing, Mary Daly wrote a book called gyn/ecology that examined herstory, which is history written in the point of view a feminist on women’s role in society. Lorde argued that Daly’s feminist theory excluded the herstory of women of color while using women of colors struggle to emphasize the issues of equality. She explained,” The assumptions that the herstory and myth of white women is the legitimate and sole herstory and myth of all women to call upon for power and background, and that nonwhite women and our herstories are noteworthy only as decorations or example of victimization”. Lorde believed that Daly’s work created separation and racism within the movement. Bell hooks another noteworthy black feminist echoes Lorde’s train of thought in her book, Aint I a Woman. For example very earlier on in the book she says, ” The feminist movement, a largely white middle, and upper-class affair, did not articulate the needs of poor and non-white women, thus reinforcing sexism, racism, and classism. Paula Giddings an activist, professor of women’s studies and African Americans studies who wrote When and Where I Enter, examines how white feminists work excludes women of color as well but focuses on one piece of work in particular. Giddings examines The Feminine Mystique, written by Betty Friedan which was one of the first feminist books to be released and gain much attention from the community, but black women in particular. Giddings explains, “The author spoke to middle-class white women, bored in suburbia(an escape hatch from increasingly Black cities) and seeking sanction to work at a “meaningful” outside the home”. She then continues, ” Not only were the problems of White suburban housewife(who may have had black domestic help) irrelevant to Black women, they were also alien to them”. It was concluded that Black women felt as if white women were complaining about a life that didn’t speak to the life they were living, in fact, they believed some of the issue mentioned was a privilege they love to have, but couldn’t because of the status in which black women were placed in society. Through women of colors literary work that critiqued feminism, the issue of the feminist movement was addressed but so was the solution to how to fix the women’s  movements. That solution was intersectionality. Intersectionality in the feminist movement basically looks like White women not leading and being the face of the movements and the recognition and representation of all women.  Lorde speaks of this concept in The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House when she says, ” The absence of any consideration of lesbian consciousness or the consciousness of third world women leaves a serious gap within this conference”. Lorde says this when describing the lack of focus on women of color and queer women at a women’s rights movement. If we stand to advocate for women’s rights, we need to represent all women. Divided sisters by Russell and Wilson speak to how non intersectional feminism is dangerous when they say, ” Feminists writers like Betty Friedan generalized all women that ended up alienating and angering those who did not fit her particular profile”.  Doing that, the movement we then be able to serve all women In doing this they not only alienate women of color in the movement but also create a link between women of colors experiences and white women’s experiences, which are inaccurate.  The way in which white women have dealt with being a woman in society is completely different from the way women of color and queer women have dealt with their existence in society. This is another point that white women need to understand when they claim to fight for women’s rights.Although we want to move to intersectionality as soon as possible, Black Feminism will take time to transition into. Bell hooks mentions in an interview called What would Bell hooks say, hooks says, “Feminism offers young women and men incredible tools that can allow them to live well in an unwell society”. But we all have to be willing to put in the works to make intersectional feminism work, which can be difficult if people continue to live in denial about their role in creating a nonintersectional movement.  In today’s society, we can see mainstream examples of black feminist work. For example according to The Black Lives Matter organization, it campaigns to elevate the experiences and leadership of most marginalized Black people, including but not limited to those who are women, queer, trans, femmes, gender nonconforming, Muslim, formerly and currently incarcerated, cash poor and working class, disabled, undocumented, and immigrant. This movement was created by three black women Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi, and Patrisse Cullors. These women created a system that advocates for all while may not be focused in on specifically women rights, this organization does what the feminist movement fails to do which is the inclusion of intersectionality. On a smaller scale, you have women like Tarana Burke who started the Me too campaign which allowed women to publicly share on social media their experiences with sexual harassment and assault. Publicly speaking on topics like sexual assault has been taboo for years, but it took one black woman to be brave enough and began a movement that went national and empowered all women across the nation.Black feminism has also been inspired through art. Becky with the good hair became an international meme after Beyonce sang the lyric her song called lemonade. Most people believed that the line or the song as a whole just focused in on relationships and how to handle cheating, but the message was much stronger. Lemonade was made for black women. This record was made to empower black women and tell them they are beautiful even when society tells them that they are not and reject their black features as beauty. The title Lemonade speaks to the fact that black women have had to metaphorically take lemons and make lemonade. Black women have had to historically fight for their rights and wellbeing throughout history.  The work of these women may not exist had women like Audre Lorde, bell hooks, or Angela Davis stood up for the empowerment of women of color and critiqued the movement that didn’t represent for them. Black women have been organizing and fighting for their rights for decades. Though the credit for their contributions isn’t appreciated or even mentioned in most feminist movements. Gloria Steinem supports this claim in an interview she did with writer  Phoebe Robinson. Steinem says, ” Black women have always been the heart of feminism, yet more often than not white feminism and mainstream American culture had overlooked invaluable contributions of women of color”. Although most women of color who participate in activism understand and know this, white women don’t and in order for the movement to become a more inclusive environment, it is essential that they do or just stop claiming that they advocate for women’s rights.