Black Feminists In My Life

I’ve never really considered the women in my life who might be feminists. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any of them refer to themselves as such. And I only began learning about feminism/womanism when I read Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens early last year. I’d have to say that an obvious choice would be my mother. She worked full-time, completed a bachelor’s and master’s in psychology while doing so and somehow managed to keep my brother and I from killing each other and ourselves in the process. Of course, my dad was always there to offer support and aid – but the image she represents strikes me as exceedingly feminist. She wanted something so she went after it and she never let anyone or anything tell her that it wasn’t possible. Because of her I have seen and done things that most people only dream about. 

I’d have to say that my dad is feminist in some regards as well. He probably wouldn’t appreciate me saying this, but he was fill-in Mom when my Mom had papers to write and tests to study for. He answered questions about things that make most men squirm and he was one of the first people who openly talked about issues of the world with me – from rape to politics. Those conversations had a profound impact on how my life has turned out. And, if we consider the sort of political comments that were made in the last year regarding rape and women’s bodies, those conversations were far more empowering than I think my father could have ever imagined. 

And, to round out my top three, my newly discovered mentor. She’s highly personal, so I won’t leave her name here on the internet – but she met me very briefly in October and offered, without any hesitation, to guide me through the graduate school process. In reference to my post on Morrison – she is the woman who told me that I have a voice and that I should use it. That I should not drop that class and that I should use it as an opportunity to confront the racist assumptions that people might make. She recognized that I was too afraid to do so, but she also told me that, at some point, I will need to speak or I will never be heard. 

I realize that all of these people are highly personal feminists – people central to my own personal circle. But they are the people who are giving me the support I need to be a proud, vocal feminist that can go out into her community and be a part of it rather than merely a bystander or a criticizer of it. 

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~ by Kristen on January 25, 2013.

2 Responses to “Black Feminists In My Life”

  1. I find it interesting that you chose to write about your parents. My parents kind of fit the same roles that your parents had. My mother always had a full time job, except for one time in my life, and has always been in school or taking some type of training, while still being the mother she needed to be for my younger brother and me. My dad was also the fill in mom. When my mom was busy or was not feeling well, he cooked dinner for us all, provided us with advice when we asked, and gave us spiritual guidance as well. I find it ironic that we tend to realize how much our parents really helped form who we are, in retrospect, and how easy it is to be a feminist without realizing it or directly identifying yourself as one.

  2. I agree! There’s too many people who don’t consider themselves feminist when they engage in feminist thought and behavior. It’s like “feminism” is a dirty word or a bad label.

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