“How did you become a feminist," a white woman asked me over coffee. She leaned in (across the table) anxiously awaiting my answer.
It felt like an interrogation because her expression read: "why did you think you could become one of us?” As though feminism is reserved for white women.
I went on to tell her “my feminism” and that where I am today was a process that included understanding sisterhood, womanhood, and sexuality. I sensed my answer just confused her especially because I hadn't mentioned any feminist literature. My answer was all about my personal experiences.
Looking back I realize that because I didn’t study her feminism, I wasn’t really a feminist.
About nine months later, during a focus group interview with Black women addressing their experiences embodying ‘strong' Black womanhood, a participant shared that she "takes care of everything: the family, herself, work, everything. I’m feminist because I have to be." Her statement perfectly summed up my feminism and what I was trying to tell this White woman a year ago. I am a feminist because I survived, thrived, learned, and am supporting other women through their surviving and thriving: and now I have a name for it.
It’s fascinating how some people think: That to speak on an issue you (or maybe just me as a Black woman) must have received training. That you must have purchased a textbook, sat in a classroom, completed assignments, or performed research to talk about real issues. Nonetheless, whenever I am asked this question, my reaction is a series of snapshots from my life, but mostly I think about The Day Rider and her process of becoming. A portion of my blog will share my journey of finding my feminism through what initially started out as a book titled, The Day Rider. After considerable thought and reflection, I've decided to share portions of the book through this blog because I find my experiences are relevant today and I hope they assist readers in understanding and framing their cultural experiences.
My feminism is intimately connected to my journey of self-discovery, which has been in process and consistently making progress. Also, my feminism is informed by a variety of thinkers within and outside the realm of feminism.
There is no book on finding your feminism; it just is what you come to do. Several of the reflections I will share explain that being a feminist is not one that I connect to because of the apparent wordage, but because of my self-identities and life experiences shaping the way I explain, understand, and resolve social issues.
I have realized that feminism is beyond teaching or researching around gender equality but action: I as a woman (and feminism isn’t just for women) have learned that being feminist is living in action. To speak and advocate for equality, I challenge myself to feel, dissect and understand the layers that impact people and myself. Coming to the point of being feminist isn't a short answer and best explained as a journey.
I've lived in a world against me – a world designed against Black women and all I can do is live through it. So, my feminism is at the intersection of race, gender, and class; and is in the spirit of equality because I know the struggle of inequality. My race and class are intricately interwoven into my gendered experiences and understanding of inequality.