I had the opportunity to be on the organizing committee of Women’s March RVA. I stood at the podium because at age 13, people would rather comment on my body than my intellect, which is why I became a Womanist, a term coined by Alice Walker in 1979 that describes a Black feminist who analyzes the intersections of race, gender and sexuality. According to Linda Napikoski of ThoughtCo.com states that a Womanist identifies and criticizes sexism in the Black empowerment movement and racism in the feminist movement. I identify as a womanist solely based on my encounters with White feminism, which has a focus on the issues that primarily affect White women, as opposed to all women.
“Womanist is to feminist as purple is to lavender.”
– Alice Walker
As a result, the concept of Intersectional Feminism was introduced which acknowledges how race, gender, sexuality, class, ability etc. are interconnected. The term “intersectional feminist” is being thrown around so much by White feminists who don’t actively show up for Black women and girls that I find it difficult to identify with the movement. I identify as an Intersectional Womanist.
The reason I identify as a Womanist is because at age 14, a robotics team tried to stop me from pursuing my dreams of being a computer programmer because of my gender AND my race. When I asked out of frustration why I was being treated unfairly, I was accused of acting out. The only other female programmer who worked with me, was a feminist went to the Women’s March, saw what was happening, but she didn’t say or do anything to call out the White woman for being racist.
I identify as a Womanist for Black and Brown youth who experience gun violence at disproportionate rates. When I organized with a March For Our Lives chapter in Richmond, I called the White student organizers out for being insensitive. Because I was Black, I was harassed on the internet, and accused of attacking other people and not exchanging my opinions peacefully. Even though a Black girl named Hadiya Pendleton is literally the reason they wear orange for gun control, I was told that this was about “all lives, American lives and not Black lives”. After being called out for being racist, excluding me as well as a few other Black students from participating in the National School Walkout and not addressing gun violence as a whole, that youth organizing group in RVA no doesn’t exist.
If your activism simply ends at wearing pink hats and praising White suburban students for doing something Black students have been doing for generations, then you’re not doing enough. You need to start showing up for us by confronting your biases and not only showing up to the events that make you comfortable, but also showing up to demonstrations that challenge issues that may not directly affect you.
Written by Stephanie Younger, a 16 year old Black student activist, organizer and writer who advocates for womanism, diversity in STEAM, the abolition of youth prisons and community non violence