September 30, 2014
"#BlackFeminismLives‬
I don’t find any contradiction or any tension between being a feminist, being a pan-Africanist, being a [B]lack nationalist, being an internationalist, being a socialist, and being a woman in North America. I’m not sensitive enough to people caught in the “contradiction” to be able to unravel the dilemma and adequately speak to the question at this particular point in time. My head is somewhere else… ~ Toni Cade Bambara"

Toni Cade Bambara in conversation with Beverly Guy Sheftall (Savoring the Salt: The Legacy of Toni Cade Bambara, ed. Linda Janet Holmes and Cheryl A. Wall, pg 125)

April 4, 2014
"

…It is through this lens that I listen to Beyoncé ’s Drunk in Love. In fact, while I thoroughly love Beyoncé ’s new album, the conversations and processes that I have been a part of because of the controversial track have made it single handedly the most influential in refining my stance for women’s liberation. To be clear, however, my issue with the song is not so much with Beyoncé ’s feminism, which has been thoroughly critiqued, complicated, and defended in pieces published at The Huffington Post, The Guardian, and Black Girl Dangerous. My issue is with Jay‐Z’s lack of a feminist stance as demonstrated in his verse on the track. The apex of the verse, excerpted below, speaks volumes as to how Hip-Hop masculinity understands consent:

“…On sight, catch a charge I might, Beat the box up like Mike, in ’97 I bite. I’m Ike, Turner, turn up,
baby no I don’t play. Now eat the cake Anna Mae, said eat the cake Anna Mae!…”

Jay-Z’s invocation of Ike Turner is a troubling nod to one of the most visible examples of domestic violence and violence against women in the music industry. This invocation is one of several individuals Jay-Z identifies himself with in the verse, including Mike Tyson who was found guilty of rape charges in 1992. I think its important to mark that the “Eat the cake Anna Mae” line is an allusion to a scene in What’s Love Got to Do With It (1993)…

"

Power Play with Anne Mae: Drunk in Love, Beyoncé and the Exploration of BDSM in the Deconstruction of Sexually Violent Mantras by Mark-Anthony Johnson in The Feminist Wire

Read the article in its entirety: http://thefeministwire.com/2014/04/drunk-in-love-beyonce-jay-z/

April 4, 2014
"Instead of a roll call (of feminists I love), let me say that I love feminists who are bold, audacious, loving, critical, self-reflexive, creative, thoughtful, intersectional, anti-racist, anti-heterosexist, anti-imperialist, anti-colonialist, anti-transphobic, anti-ableist, anti-classist, and anti-misogynistic. I love feminists who support one another and who believe that their purpose is fighting for justice. I love feminists who believe unequivocally in freedom. I love feminists because I found myself within feminism."

Treva B. Lindsey is a #Feminist, The Feminist Wire Loves

Read and view TFW’s Associate Editor David J. Leonard’s print and video “Feminists We Love” interview with Treva: http://thefeministwire.com/2014/04/treva-lindsey/

May 5, 2013
Radical Love, Race, and Feminist Futures ~ The Feminist Wire concluded its 10-day Forum on Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism Within Feminism

On May 1, 2013, Brooke Elise Axtell with Monica J. Casper, Heather Laine Talley, and Aishah Shahidah Simmons concluded The Feminist Wire's (TFW) 10-day Forum on Race, Racism, and Anti Racism Within Feminism with their Radical Love, Race, and Feminism article.

…We are called to be fiercely honest, compassionate, and gracious in our discourse. Radical love can hold our rage, our sadness, and our grief over the ways we have failed each other, and may continue to fail each other. Without love, we remain fractured beyond measure.

In closing, we want to offer an opening; that is, our Forum has been as much about forging dialogue as it has been about trying to locate lived experiences. Over the past ten days, this collection of essays, visual art, poetry, creative nonfiction, and love notes has functioned as an invitation to think critically and to act ethically, to recognize our structural locations, and to innovate new ways of living as allies and practicing community.

As part of our commitment to continuing this dialogue about race, racism, and anti-racism within feminisms, we will continue to publish works that engage our deepest concerns as a collective. We invite you to share your insights with us as we explore more of this fertile and volatile terrain…

Painting by Mequitta Ahuja

Painting by Mequitta Ahuja

Radical Love, Race, and Feminist Futures includes links to every single article, love note, poem, interview, and visual artwork that was featured in the Forum. If you missed some of the featured pieces or would like to refer to them in the future, you may do so by clicking here.

TFW’s co-founder and managing editor Tamura A. Lomax said, “[the Forum] was the most diverse critical discourse on this subject/life matter to date.” She continues, “And yes, I’m quite thrilled that it happened at TFW. The issue(s) re: race within (and without) feminism is not black and white, nor is it simply gray. In actuality it’s quite colorful. And if we’ve learned nothing else this past week and a half, we know there’s still lots of work ahead. And, we ALL have work to do.”

The Forum’s lead editor Heidi Renée Lewis, in concert with the team of co-editors (Aimee Meredith Cox, Heather Laine Talley, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Hakima Abbas, Tamura A. Lomax, Monica Casper, Omar Ricks, Shubra Sharma, and Aishah Shahidah Simmons), compassionately and lovingly worked together virtually across multiple time zones in the United States and internationally in Africa and South Asia often while simultaneously on the road, teaching, lecturing, mothering, partnering, conferencing, and dealing with unexpected life altering personal, familial, and professional life crises. Just when many wanted to throw in the towel and forgo the conclusion other than say, “That’s all folks! Take care,” Brooke Elise Axtell, picked up the ball and helped everyone carry it across the finish line.

The power of the compassionate, loving, and selfless TFW Collective can never be denied.

April 22, 2013
Across Liberation, Toward Difference

Today is Day 1 of The Feminist Wire’s 10-day Forum on Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism within Feminism.

Across Liberation, Toward Difference: An Introduction to TFW’s Forum on Race, Racism, and Anti-Racism within Feminism" by Aishah Shahidah Simmons and Heather Laine Talley


"…This is an attempt to reexamine race and racism from multiple feminist perspectives. To be sure, this is not a Black-white dialogue. This is not a cisgender dialogue. It is not exclusively academic in nature nor entirely activist in spirit. It is multi-voiced, even as it is not representative. It is a conversation that pre-dates all of us, even as it is a dialogue that is no less important now than in previous iterations of feminism, from the suffragettes exclusion of African-American women to the whiteness of the sex wars, to white feminism’s response to and engagement with transnational feminism.

A theme emerges in this Forum–white folks will be called out. And not just because of white silence to recent events, but also because our time is one that is shaped through and through by white supremacy. White privilege may be diluted by class, geography, ability, sexuality, gender identity. And yet, the structural underpinnings of the institutions that inscribe our lives and everyday patterns of seeing and talking are bound together by a legacy of racism, the overvaluation of white bodies at other humans’ expense, and policies intended to promote thriving for white folks.

This Forum is certainly not meant to be the definitive statement on race, racism, and anti-racism within feminism. TFW is committed to cultivating an ongoing dialogue, and so even as we start this Forum, we know that this is only the start of a long-term and potentially difficult conversation, part of which we will continue to publish. We offer these essays and love notes as a beginning and invite you to continue to journey and engage with us.

Racism in feminism exists. This fact is not up for debate, not here not now. But we ask you to consider: what actions and inactions, words and silences make it possible for racism to breed? Morphing in response to logics like colorblindness and thriving through co-optation of words like “diversity” and “multiculturalism.” Enduring because of cowardice and privilege rather than courage seems to be the default mode of operating. For the next ten days this Forum seeks to interrupt this dynamic. We invite you to join us.”

http://thefeministwire.com/2013/04/across-difference-toward-liberation-an-introduction-to-tfws-forum-on-race-racism-and-anti-racism-within-feminism/

January 25, 2013
Temple University Women’s Studies Department hosts Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Temple University Women’s Studies Department Presents:

Alexis Pauline Gumbs ~ “Daughters Dreams: Critical Reflection and Audre Lorde’s Dream Journal" ~

The public talk and reception will be held on:

Tuesday, February 12, 2012, 6:00pm – 8:00pm

Temple University
Women’s Studies Lounge
821 Anderson Hall
1114 Polett St
Philadelphia, PA 19122

Alexis Pauline Gumbs earned her PhD in English, Africana Studies and Women’s Studies from Duke University. As the first person to do archival research in the papers of Audre Lorde (Spelman College), June Jordan (Harvard University), and Lucille Clifton (Emory University), she honors the lives and creative works of Black feminist geniuses as sacred texts for all people. Dr. Gumbs is the founder of BrokenBeautiful Press, Brilliance Remastered, Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind and the co-creator of the Queer Black MobileHomecoming Project.

A widely published essayist on topics from the abolition of marriage to the power of dreams to the genius of enslaved African ancestors, Dr. Gumbs’ work appears in publications as varied as Signs, American Book Review, Make/Shift, Left Turn, The Crisis, Ms. Magazine, The Feminist Wire, Obsidian. Additionally, she has essays in many academic and activist books including The Revolution Starts at Home, The Black Imagination, Abolition Now!, Does Your Mama Know and the Women’s Studies classroom staple Women’s Voices, Feminist Visions. Dr. Gumbs serves on the editorial collective of the wide-reaching online news source The Feminist Wire and as primary editor of several successful websites including That Little Black Book, Bright New Day and Black Feminism Lives.

For more information about Alexis Pauline Gumbs http://alexispauline.com/

December 8, 2012
"

… [R]emain true to your truth, voice and passion in all that you do… [W]hat’s the cost for those who remain silent, who choose respectability and fear over critical movement against the status quo? I’ve never been one to feed the status quo, nor do I plan to ever be.

For me, feminism is a way of life, a way of living, and a form of survival–not my hustle. A huge part of my feminist politics is speaking my truth the way I want to speak it. No one gets to dictate that for me. To be sure, I’m charting my own course. And, I truly believe that the universe will make room for it. In some small ways it already has. To be sure, trailblazing takes courage, uncomfortability, and innovation. My unapologetic quest toward truth and truth speaking demand all of the above and then some…

"

— Sister/Friend/Comrade Tamura A. Lomax, co-founder of The Feminist Wire

April 16, 2012
An Open Letter in response to: “To Be Anti-Racist Is To Be Feminist: The Hoodie and The Hijab Are Not Equals”

On Friday, April 13, 2012, The Feminist Wire, of which I am a member of its Editorial Collective, published “To Be Anti-Racist Is To Be Feminist: The Hoodie and The Hijab Are Not Equals,” by Adele Wilde-Blavatsky, who is also a U.K. -based member of the Editorial Collective. A link to the Adele’s article was also posted on The Feminist Wire’s facebook page. The article created a firestorm of pain, anger, and betrayal on the part of many Muslim Feminist women and their allies. In the comments section on both The Feminist Wire site and The Feminist Wire facebook page, following the posting of the article was very heated to say the least. I first heard about the article and the anger and pain, via @brownisthecolor on Friday night. TFW Founder Tamura A. Lomax, pulbished a statement on Saturday, April 14, 2012 in response to all of the views expressed about Adele’s article. On Sunday, April 15, 2012, Concerned Members of the Editorial Collective posted, “ A Collective Response To: To Be Anti-Racist Is To Be Feminist: The Hoodie and The Hijab Are Not Equals,” which was written by concerned feminist readers who are not members of the Editorial Collective. 

I have been vocal behind the scenes but I have been intentionally silent publicly. However, this morning, I felt a need to write a letter to Adele, which she received along with a few others. After much thought, however, I decided to make my letter public because it was and is important for me to share my thoughts as a Muslim raised, Buddhist practicing, Feminist Queer person of African descent. While I am a member of the Editorial Collective, I’m posting this letter as an individual who is speaking and writing for herself. ~ Aishah Shahidah Simmons 

April 16, 2012 (via email)

Good morning/afternoon Adele,

We’ve never virtually met. My name is Aishah. I’ve expressed my concerns to others but I have not expressed them to you. In the spirit of transparency, I believe I have a responsibility to share with you my thoughts as a member of The Feminist Wire (TFW) collective. 

Foremost, I was raised Sufi Muslim by a radical Black feminist mother (Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons) who is an Islamic scholar-activist and practicing Muslim for over 45-years. With the exception of going to the mosque for prayers or praying at home, I have never ever covered my head. My mother has never worn hijab in the US. I know she has worn it in Saudi Arabia, when making Umrah. I believe she (has) also worn it (due to cultural norms), at times, when she lived in Morocco and Jordan. However, I know for an absolute fact that she is not a proponent of wearing the hijab. At the same time, she supports the rights of those women who have the choice to wear it.  Simultaneously, however, she fights against any laws and cultural norms that advocate for the torture and/or murder of women and girls for not wearing it.

Her work specifically focuses on women’s rights under Islamic law. Amongst her many published articles, her “Are We Up To The Challenge: The Need for the Radical Re-ordering of the Islamic Discourse On Women,” piece is featured in Progressive Islam: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism (Omid Safi). In her article, she challenges patriarchal, misogynist, sexist interpretations of the Sacred Text and practices amongst so many within Islam. She writes as a Black feminist woman who grew up in the (era of) segregation who was on the frontlines of Civil Rights & Black Power movements. She used her lived experiences, before she converted to Islam as the foundation upon which she stands to challenge gender oppression in the religion she has been a part of for almost 45 years. Yes, she has caught and catches hell for her stance, but not because she’s a White woman with (perceived, unchecked) privilege. It is, as you know, hard for (some) Muslim feminists, regardless of if they were born in or converted to the religion to tackle these issues… But they’ve done and will continue to do it. In fact, it’s hard for all feminists to tackle issues of patriarchy, gender oppression, and violence against women in every single sector of almost all societies across the globe.

While I didn’t agree with the lens from which you wrote, I heard your points. And, for the record, I don’t believe I have to agree with every single article posted on TFW. My huge problem and challenge with your article is what I perceive to be an inability to challenge your location as a British feminist who is not a person of color. I interpreted the article in question and your “'Nobody’s nigger' but somebody’s bitch?” article to essentially say,” (I)t’s not fair that race is the elephant in the room in ways that gender is not.” If my interpretation is correct, then I hear you and agree with you completely. The huge difference is that as a non-person of color, I firmly believe you can’t just say/write that without also saying/writing about the ways in which racism, white supremacy, colonialism (especially as someone who is British), and xenophobia within the white feminist movements and beyond have horrifically impacted women (and men) of color. Painfully my perception of your inability and unwillingness to do this work in those two articles; and your comments in defense of the latest article, makes it damn near impossible for me as a feminist lesbian of African descent to find any common ground or solidarity with you…

I struggle within my own non-monolithic cultural and racial communities with the painful reality that often I don’t believe my life is valued as a woman, regardless of my identifying as a feminist or not, and as a lesbian/queer person of African descent. I believe that a huge part of my cultural work is to play a role, carry the baton, be the chorus that says ending racism alone will not end oppression in our cultural/racial communities…over half of us would still NOT be safe if racism ended… I do this, however, as a person from within this community… And, conversely, I am a part of the feminist and LGBTQ people of color chorus that says ending sexism, gender oppression, and patriarchy doesn’t mean that straight women and LGBTQ people of color will be safe.  If we don’t eradicate all forms of injustices, none of us, in the human race, will be safe.

In your responses that I read in the threads both on the TFW website and FB page, you did not take an anti-racist stance at all… This is most problematic and disturbing for me in a world, to quote or paraphrase Audre Lorde, “(I’m a Black woman living in a world) that defines everything as white and male, for starters.”

As a 10-year practitioner of the teachings of Buddha (like you), I wholeheartedly believe that at the fundamental level we’re all one. However at the apparent, day-to-day experiential level, our similarities as human, are colored and gendered and classed. Those of us who do not benefit from White, Male, and/or Heterosexual privilege are consistently marginalized and disenfranchised. The fact that my perception is that in your comments, you consistently stayed away from addressing racism; and then you spoke on behalf of women of color who have articulated your position on the hijab and burqa is, in my mind’s eye, a white supremacist and racist act.

I believe we all make mistakes and cause harm, even with the best of intentions not to make mistakes and/or cause harm. The question and challenge is what happens when this is pointed out to us. For me, the article is one thing, but your responses to the response to your article were very disturbing to me.

I’m sure we all know what it’s like to feel under attack. Speaking from my lived experiences, it’s wretched and egregious, especially when I believe that my intention is not the outcome at all. I get that you felt a visceral need to defend yourself. I really understand that. However, the fact that you felt the need to retaliate in your and your family’s defense, in the name of TFW FB handle is honestly not okay. Why didn’t you switch from TFW to use your own name when responding? Why didn’t you reach out to Monica, or Tamura or other members of TFW that you know. I’m not talking about seeking permission per se, but to seek collective guidance about how to respond, most especially since you consistently used the TFW FB handle and not your name.

I also reflect upon Buddha’s words when he said “Don’t speak, unless it improves upon the silence (or noise, my words)…” This is 1,000,000 times easier said, read, than done.

It’s true that race and religion are huge elephants in the US. I’m not European, but I have a lot of radical feminist friends who are both white and of color who live in England and France. While some of them wholeheartedly support the ban of the hijab in France, I know they would take issue with your article and more importantly your responses to the critiques of it. Additionally, my father (Michael Simmons), who’s an international human right activist has worked in Eastern Europe since the mid-80s; and since 2003, has called Budapest, Hungary his home. I share this to say, that through his lens, I’ve come to really understand the stark differences with how race/ethnicity is addressed in Europe in comparison to in the US. This is most apparent with the Roma (aka Gypsy) communities.

 The question for me is what is the goal with our articles and responses to critiques of our articles? Is the goal to be right …to win the debate and/or arguments? Or, is the goal to play a role in encouraging people to think and act differently?

Towards Understanding and In Peace,

Aishah

Postscript: On April, 19, 2012, The Feminist Wire Editorial Collective (of which I am a member) published a statement in response to all of the issues that transpired as a result of the posting/publishing the article. Here’s the link to the statement.

—> http://thefeministwire.com/2012/04/the-feminist-wire-responds/ <—


October 12, 2011
"

SisterSong NYC Meeting:

Speak Out: White Privilege in the Feminist Movement

"I also want to extend an invitation to all who are interested in this conversation and taking a critical analysis of not only what we say in the movement but if our actions match what we say in solidarity. This will be an honest and respectful conversation where all in the room will have an opportunity to speak and reflect on privilege and racism and we hope to step away with some actions we can take as individuals and as a collective in addressing this." ~ Jasmine Burnett, Chair, SisterSong NYC ~

WHEN: Monday October 17, 2011
WHERE: Margaret Sanger Center
26 Bleecker St, New York
TIME: 6-8PM

This meeting is open to both Women of Color AND White Women.

You must RSVP to attend this meeting at sistersongnyc “AT” gmail “DOT” com

"

October 11, 2011
"

"…It’s a betrayal when you act as if you have no clue in 2011 about what feminists of color endure within our own community when we make the decision to trust in and build with White feminists. Patriarchal men and women of color are like Piper Laurie, doing everything to derail us whenever we align ourselves with you. When we throw on our jackets to head out to the meeting, they stand at the top of the stairs yelling, ‘They’re going to laugh at you’…

We have faith and show up anyway only for you to pull the cord on prom night.

(Side note to those anti-feminist people of color: now isn’t the time for you to say, “I told you so.” That’s when you go from acting like Carrie’s mother to making like her gym teacher. Instead of joining the laughter, you should be standing with us as we call out the racism rather than using it as an opportunity to gut check us on our feminism. Don’t bother if for no other reason than it’s just not going to work for you. All you do when you attempt to discredit feminism by throwing an instance of racist arrogance of certain White women in our face is play yourself. We’re just not that fickle. With few exception, we’re not going to come “home” like the prodigal Carrie White because, as you’ll recall, her mother pretended to comfort her only to literally stabbed her in the back. Yeah, we’re not playin’ that.)…” ~Sofia Quintero (aka Black Artemis) excerpt from “They’re Going to Laugh at You: White Women, Betrayal and the N-Word”~

"

READ IN ITS ENTIRETY HERE

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