1. From womanish. (Opp. of “girlish,” i.e. frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.) A black feminist or feminist of color. From the black folk expression of mothers to female children, “you acting womanish,” i.e., like a woman. Usually referring to outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wanting to know more and in greater depth than is considered “good” for one. Interested in grown up doings. Acting grown up. Being grown up. Interchangeable with another black folk expression: “You trying to be grown.” Responsible. In charge. Serious.
2. “A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or non-sexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/or non-sexually. Committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female. Not a separatist, except periodically, for health. Traditionally universalist…
3. Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.”
4. “Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender”
Victoria N. McGovern
By Stephanie Younger •
Speech at Women’s March RVA + Expo 2019 •
At an age where I was extremely self-conscious about the way I looked as a Black girl, people would rather comment on my body than my intellect. At age 14, people attempted to stop me from pursuing my dreams of being a programmer by stereotyping, isolating and discrediting me for my work. When I asked out of frustration why they were erasing me from my work, the adults accused me of being “ungracious,” and “acting out.” The only other female programmer was a self-proclaimed “feminist” who attended the Women’s March, and didn’t show up for me as she watched me experiencing misogynoir. I responded to that misogynoir by leaving that robotics team, and starting a coding program for other Black girls so they wouldn’t have to ensure what I went through.
At age 15, I faced more misogynoir by a group of “gun violence prevention activists.” in Richmond when I held them accountable for ignoring the voices. They harassed me on the internet, and excluded me and multiple Black students from their protest, further showing their insensitivity to the experiences of Black youth, who experience gun violence at disproportionate rates. After being called out for excluding Black youth, that organizing group in RVA no longer exists.
It was imperative to maintain resilience by standing by what you believe in, in spite of those who erase our narratives, and in spite of those who refuse to show up for causes that challenge issues that may not directly affect them. After learning about the work of Black feminists such as Alice Walker, Kimberle Crenshaw and Angela Davis, I realized that imperative as Black folks to create our own table, rather than asking for a seat at the table where our authentic selves are not welcomed. In response to the intersections of misogyny and anti-Blackness, I channeled that trauma into creating a table, called Black Feminist Collective.
Stephanie Younger is a 16-year-old who advocates for womanism and the abolition of youth prisons.