When I attended the Black Lives Matter in the Classroom workshop at Ohio State University (organized by Treva Lindsey), there was this moment where Aja Monet Bacquie challenged the way black feminists still use the term feminism, despite all of the ways white feminists have hurt black women and women of color in the name of so-called feminism.
We can go from slavery to freedom on this, so let’s not debate that as a fact and let’s not jump in my comments with any “but what about me” responses. Hit dogs don’t holler and this status update isn’t about THAT. It its about one of the responses, my favorite response, from Ruth Nicole. Because everyone reacted, myself included, and the reactions were different. Someone claimed it, because it is ours (woc). Some rejected it and affirmed their rejection (example: womanism). Some suggested reclaiming it, because it needs it. All kinds of reactions. Then the discussion moved on, without any kind of real feeling of resolution, until Brown brought it back. Piggy-backing on another question, she said something along these lines, about everyone having a reason for using the term or not using the term, and those reasons might be all well and good but at the end of the day: “…if that is a word that is going to separate ME from YOU…then forget it, scrap it, I don’t want it. Let’s use something else, make up something new.”
Again, that’s not the exact words she used, I’m sure. But I think about that a lot when we talk about terms and terminology and etymology and pedagogy and scholarship and where all these theories come from and what we mean and really mean and who we want to hear us, listen to us, be in the room with us, stand our ground with us, fight with us, make love to us. Words mean things, true, and they carry baggage and they can be liberating too. But at the end of the day, if the word is what is going to put the brakes on US, on this thing we have going, on our love for each other, this kinship between me and YOU–fuck it. I don’t want it. If you tell me as a black woman that this word is gonna be a problem for you, okay cool, done. Give me something else. Give me nothing. Call it Blue-ism. Call it Bae-ism. What matters is: Do you understand me? Do I understand you? Are we gonna ride together? Are we getting free together? Yes? Say word? Okay cool. Let’s go.
Posted on FB 2016 December 22