Written by Christina Jane & Lauren Antoinette
Published by Wondrous Occasions LLC
With the recent reemergence of Feminism in the mainstream media, what defines femininity has changed, and people are speaking out against the objectification of women with increasing frequency. The fact that the focus of an accomplished, world class athlete such as Serena Williams is still closely focused on her body; what she is wearing and who she is dating is no longer acceptable. During what has been deemed “The Blackest Black History Month Ever” Beyoncé dropped a bomb of Black Consciousness during her Super bowl performance.
Beyoncé has been subtly letting us know for some time that she is an advocate of women. The emergence of her all female band made waves back to 2013. That voice got louder at the 2014 VMAs when she raised her hand in solidarity with the word “Feminist” in glaring letters behind her. She screamed at the top of her lungs with her Black Panther inspired, unapologetically bold Super Bowl performance. Yes! Beyoncé, the ultimate “popular” artist who crosses multiple genres is now identifying herself as “Pro Black”. Then “Lemonade” dropped, showing that not only is she Pro Black, she is “Pro Black Women”. The visually stunning 60-minute piece includes women only, and uses the words from female Kenyan poet Warsan Shire. The sole focus was on the trials and triumphs of Black Women and black families, the ultimate “I see you” moment. A quote from Malcolm X brought to light during the production is more relevant today than ever before, “The most disrespected person in America is the Black Woman. The most unprotected person in America is the Black Woman. The most neglected person in America is the Black Woman.”
Womanism has been a powerful movement that dates back to the civil rights era. Womanism was a driving force with Black Women in the civil right movement, illuminated by Angela Davis’ efforts to give Black Women and their struggles an identity in equal rights while uplifting the community and our men. There is a need to separate Feminism from Womanism, as unlike the white Feminist movement, Black Women faced a unique different set of circumstances. In today’s society Womanism has been realized in many forms such as the natural hair movement. Years of effort, money and legislatures have been put in place to move forward woman’s rights in the workplace, from closing the gap between differences in male and female salaries, to a woman’s right to choose to reproduce. However, in the very recent past, natural hair in some industries has been deemed as “too wild” or in some cases, unprofessional. This is a separate battle from the ones fought during the Feminist movement and need to be acknowledged as such.
A question often raised is how the Womanist movement can be manifested into action? The true power of the movement lies in Sisterhood and re-conditioning of our minds. We as women need to remember that each of us are facing obstacles, fighting struggles and dealing with circumstances that can feel like the weight of the world is pressing on us. Place peace and support into our actions toward our fellow sisters. Too much time has been wasted battling each other, gossiping and over critiquing each others flaws. Let’s take the steps to uplift each other, our men, our children and therefore uplifting our communities. One of the first steps is to be supportive of our business ventures with tangible means such as financial support. This is not always the easiest or cheapest option but is necessary to unite the community and re-engage our financial power in society. Using black distributors, buying your hair care products from a Black Woman owned hair care lines instead of making a quick trip the local store, and purposely seeking out other Black Woman business owners for your services, are just a few examples. This is where we start to show our power; actively supporting each other’s dreams and ambitions.
We must be supportive of each other and promote sisterhood amongst Black Women. The power of being around supportive positive Black Women is an energy unmatched by anything else. As Viola Davis stated in her Emmy Award winning speech, “we cannot win awards for roles that are simply not there”. There is power in creating opportunities for ourselves. We also need to speak positivity into our children, teach them the principles of financial resilience at a young age, and allow them the opportunity to build a life for themselves so that they can become better leaders, enforcers, thinkers and nurturers. Building the men up in the black community will play a big role in breaking cycles set forth by previous generations and is key to uplifting the black community.
The continued unification of sisterhood will be key to promoting Womanism as the fight continues for equality for Black Women in society and all those that come from her.