‘There is no such thing as race. None. There is just a human race – scientifically, anthropologically’ – Toni Morrison.
Since 2013, the Black Lives Matter movement is at its peak today, sparked by the murder of 46-year-old George Floyd. It first started as a hashtag after the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager, Trayvon Martin. This initiated the black lives matter protest by three women – Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi. The movement was in response to the murder of Trayvon Martin, known as one of the movements which mobilized hundreds to thousands in the world.
Racism is a fatal disease. Over a thousand people die because of racism each year. Communities are subject to police violence based on race, gender, age, and even personal choices. Research states, 72% of trans people killed in America are black women. Killing unarmed people of color has unleashed the unprecedented expression of outrage from white people in past years.
Is Racism Worse for Colored Women?
Even though men are a target of police brutality, women of color suffer equally from racial injustice. The stories of men speak louder than women- as always. Colored women not just have to compromise on their sexual and reproductive health but they also suffer psychologically. Their limited access to health, education, civil rights, and justice restricts them from being a free citizen and enjoying life to the fullest.
Women of color suffer harassment as well as sexual assault by individuals from Law enforcement. These women living in ‘virtual invisibility’ suffer both, directly and indirectly, due to police brutality and racial discrimination. Where they have to deal with the hate directly, they also suffer from the loss of their friends and families.
Racism and Feminism
The mainstream feminism in the world, specifically in the United States happens to center around white women. It leaves the sufferings of colored women unnoticed. The term Womanhood in America is synonymous with White womanhood. All the steps, taken to empower women, help only the White woman of the States. This makes the African-American women believe that feminism and activism of white women do not encompass all the women’s issues.
Civil disobedience has risen in the past where women’s rights have not been protected and trans people are not humanized. Movements like ‘Say her name’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ come into existence. These movements are powered by suppressed, angry, humiliated, and frustrated women who know they have to be their superheroes.
The BLM movement is becoming an array of hope that the world would become a safer place for colored children one day. These women who are empowering the black lives movement and facing death each day have the potential to make this movement life-changing for future generations. Black women have been doing all the work to sustain communities but saying that black men have not been able to protect black women would not be wrong.
When a black man tries to stand up for a black woman, he is killed or injured.
With a high rate of killings, black men think about not standing up for the women of their communities. Every man avoids this issue because it would bounce back to the men of the black community. For them, the cost of not saving the women is tolerable than again contributing to patriarchy. Similarly, if someone kills a black man, there is no justification for the police brutality; however, for the black women, there always is. All of this makes us rethink the purpose of the Black Lives Matter movement because if lives do matter, all black lives matter.
The BLM Movement And Patriarchy
The erasure of black women within black lives matter speaks for the extensiveness of patriarchy and sexism. It is not just harmful because it contributes to a narrow understanding of who the movement is for and who it represents. It also removes the gender-specific ways in which black women experience racism from the agenda of the movement.
To adequately disrupt the system threatening black lives, there needs to be a greater understanding of how the system of white supremacy and patriarchy intersect and form each other. This must manifest in more attentiveness to sexism within the Black Lives Matter movement. It also can be a deliberate effort to amplify the stories and voices of black women and credit their integral rules within the movement.
The Black Lives Matter movement must not just be about racism. It covers all the aspects of gender discrimination and be the voice of every single suffering individual. For many people, the Black Lives Matter movement would be entirely about people like George Floyd or Trayvon Martin. Let’s not forget that it has sizable, unseen, and yet-to-be unleashed potential inside it.
Giving Up is Losing
As Rosa Park said ‘To bring change, you must not be afraid to take the first step. We fail when we fail to try’.
The fact that Americans have grown comfortable with racism is dangerous on so many levels. The immediate response to racism would define who Americans are as a nation. Racism cannot end over-night. A lot of work is required to build comprehensive police reforms that support local community engagement and empowerment.
We live in a world where there are more debates on the issues than considerable actions. We can only move forward as a community here if everyone plays their part Inaction is unacceptable at every level.
There is a long way to go for African-American women to finally get the freedom of expression, speech, and livelihood. Everything comes with a price, but it is not possible without all the community standing on a single page. As it is known, Visionary feminism is a wise and loving politics. It is rooted in the love of male and female beings, refusing to privilege one over the other.