Many institutions fail to educate Black History and Women’s History from the Black female and non-binary narrative. We are discredited for our contributions to the feminist movement and the civil rights movement. Civil Rights is often centered around cishet Black men, while mainstream feminism is often centered around cishet white women. While many women are already reprimanded for standing for their rights, Black women, girls and Nonbinary people are often systematically undermined and told that they should be remorseful of their voices when they speak out, which calls for a broader, intersectional and womanist agenda. I am grateful be part of a generation where the theory of intersectionality, the definition of womanism and movements like Black Lives Matter can build a socially and politically just society.
Kimberlé Crenshaw – Intersectionality was first coined Kimberlé Crenshaw, the founder of the African-American Policy Forum. Intersecionality is a good way to analyze issues affect race, gender, sexuality, and many interconnected identities at the same time, which was the subject of her Ted talk she gave at TEDWomen 2016.
“I began to use the term “intersectionality” to deal with the fact that many of our social justice problems, like racism and sexism are often overlapping, creating multiple levels of social injustice.”
With the African American Policy Forum, she launched the #SayHerName Campaign which directs attention to violence against Black women.
“The African-American Policy Forum began to demand that we “say her name”…anywhere and everywhere that state violence against black bodies is being discussed…We have to be willing to bear witness…to the…everyday violence and humiliation that many black women have had to face…across color, age, gender expression, sexuality and ability.“
Alice Walker – Best known for her novel “The Color Purple,” Alice Walker is a writer, author, poet and activist. She coined the term “Womanist” in her book “In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden” published in 1983. She defines a Womanism as Black feminism, and/or a feminism for women of color, and includes women who love other women “sexually and/or non-sexually”. She coined this term in response to anti-Black racism in the feminist movement and misogyny within the Black Power movement from the Black female narrative. A womanist is also defined as a Black feminist who is “committed to survival and wholeness of entire people.”
“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to Lavender”.
Enjoli Moon – Enjoli Moon is the founder and creative director of the Afrikana Independent Film Festival , based in Richmond, VA, which unites communities by “showcasing the cinematic works of people of color from around the world”. The film festivial has a Noir Cinema Series which presents short films created by and about people of color. Afrikana features an annual event on Black History Month called “An Evening with an Icon” which has featured activists and artists, like Sonia Sanchez, Julie Dash, and Angela Davis. In the summer, Afrikana features Starry Night Cinema hosted outdoors at the Historic Tredegar at the American Civil War Museum and presents “feature-length films”.
“It’s important that we have diverse voices, authentic voices in different forms of art that are represented, and we think that Afrikana gives a platform for that,” Moon said in an interview with Virginia This Morning.
Alicia Garza, Opal Tometi & Patrisse Khan-Cullors – In response to the lack of accountability for police brutality and racism in America’s criminal justice system, organizer Alicia Garza wrote a “Love letter to Black People”.
“Black people, I love you. I love us. We Matter. Our Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter”
Patrisse Khan-Cullors an LGBTQ+ advocate and prison abolitionist transformed the phrase “Black Lives Matter” into a hashtag, while immigration rights advocate Opal Tometi transformed Black Lives Matter into a movement. Black Lives Matter also addresses misogynoir, where sexism and racism intersect, immigration and the marginalization of queer and trans Black people.
Angela Y. Davis – Legendary prison abolitionist Angela Davis doesn’t simply talk about how the privatized prison system targets Black women. She has lived the experiences she talks about. She is an advocate for Black people, Black feminism and prisoners’ rights. She was the intersection of all of those identities at one point in her life. While she taught classes at UCLA, many people didn’t appreciate that she taught there and received backlash through hate-mail with racial slurs. In an attempt to funnel her out of the university she was incarcerated for a crime she never committed, for two years before being found innocent. The controversy ignited a world wide movement called Free Angela. Professor Davis is an inspiration to many and is continues her advocacy for Black feminism, prison abolition and the criminalization of marginalized communities. She is also the author of many books about intersectionality and prison abolition including, Women, Race and Class, Freedom is a Constant Struggle and The Meaning of Freedom.
Kat Blaque – Kat Blaque is a transgender LGBTQ+ youth advocate and graphic designer who uses social media as a platform to discusses the intersections of race, gender and sexuality and hosts a series called True Tea, where she answers her followers’ questions about the intersections of racism, misogyny, transphobia, and inequality in general. She has contributed to websites such as Everyday Feminism and Huffington Post’s Black Voices and has also contributed to San Diego’s Comic-Con by being involved in a panel writing transgender characters. Kat is a great role model for Black youth in the LGBTQ+ community looking for positive voices.
“I’m a woman, I’m black, I’m curvy and I’m trans. There are a lot of things that I deal with. When I talk about those things, I am literally talking about my embodiment of these intersections.”
Amandla Stenberg – Amandla Stenberg is best known for portraying Rue in The Hunger Games where they received racist backlash because their character was Black. Amandla used their platform to become an activist who is very vocal on cultural appropriation and created “Don’t Cash Crop My Cornrows”, a “crash course on cultural appropriation” which went viral.
“What would America be like if we loved Black people as much as we love Black culture?”
At the core of Amandla’s activism is intersectionality. After coming out and publicly stating that they are non-binary and prefer gender-neutral pronouns, Stenberg became a strong voice for Black folks in the LGBTQ+ community. They will star in ‘Everything, Everything’, and will star in another movie called ‘The Hate U Give.’
Mikaila Ulmer – Environmental advocate Mikaila Ulmer is founder and CEO of Me and the Bees Lemonade. Inspired by her Great-Grandmother’s 1940’s Flax-seed Lemonade recipe, Mikaila founded her own business at the tender age of 4 years old.
“I got stung by a bee twice in one week -one in the neck, and one in the ear. I saw a beehive and I wanted to learn more about bees.”
Mikaila invests a portion of the profits to organizations that advocate for our environment.
“One thing I do to help the bees is I donate some of my profits to organizations to help the bees, and one of those is Heifer and another one is Austin Beekeeper Association.”
She also volunteers her time educating youth about the importance of empowering our ecosystem by saving the bees. In 2016, Mikaila landed a $11M deal with over 50 Whole Foods stores.
Marley Dias – Marley Dias noticed the low amount of representation of Black female protagonists in literature. In November of 2015, she set a goal to collect 1000 books with Black female protagonists in three months and launched #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign.
“I decided to start a campaign where Black girls are the main characters, and I think this is important because when you see someone you can relate to in a book, you’ll normally remember the things that they learn so then you can use them in your life to make your life better.”
Using the power of social media, Marley’s book drive went viral and young readers across the globe wanted to participate. In February of 2017, Marley partnered with Scholastic and will publish a guide to youth activism. Her book will guide kids to utilizing the power to positively make change from volunteerism, social justice, to using social media for good.
Kimberly Bryant– Electrical engineer Kimberly Bryant is the founder of Black Girls Code a non-profit whose mission is to diversify and change the face of technology by exposing girls of color and in underrepresented communities to STEM. While there’s been much progress in racial politics, there’s still a need to close the intersection of the gender gap, and the racial gap in these fields.
“When I was first introduced to computer programming, as a freshman in Electrical Engineering…I recall…feeling culturally isolated: few of my classmates looked like me. By launching Black Girls Code, I hope to provide young and pre-teen girls of color opportunities to learn in-demand skills in technology and computer programming at a time when they are naturally thinking about what they want to be when they grow up.”
Yara Shahidi – You may know Yara Shahidi as Zoey Johnson on black-ish and as the social activist who is outspoken on racial justice. Addressing President Trump’s executive order banning refugees from 7 countries including Iran where her dad is from, she posted on Twitter,
“I am the result of love. More specifically, Black and Iranian love, of a love that highlights how interconnected we truly are…Xenophobia destroys the power of love and our collective potential, it creates a false sense of security for some, and an environment of fear for others.”
Franchesca “Chescaleigh” Ramsey- Franchesca Ramsey, also known as Chescaleigh is a social activist, a writer and a comedian. In 2012, she first made herself known on social media when she turned a popular YouTube meme into a lasting global conversation about things people casually say to Black women that unintentionally marginalize them. She is the host of MTV’s Web series, Decoded, a platform which discusses the intersections of gender, race, and other issues that aren’t always comfortable to discuss.
Written by Stephanie Younger, a 14-year-old student activist, organizer and writer who advocates for Womanism, diversity in S.T.E.A.M, the abolition of youth prisons and gun violence prevention