Featured Image: Black women activists and feminists from the Combahee River Collective. Photo: BlackThen.com
By BO Editorial Collective
Today, BO presents CHAPTER 5 of the BLACK AGENDA on the oppression women and the LGBTQIA+ community. Please send your questions, comments, feedback, or help others to send their input to the following email address: [email protected]
“The revolution and women’s liberation go together. We do not talk of women’s emancipation as an act of charity or out of a surge of human compassion. It is a basic necessity for the revolution to triumph.” – Thomas Sankara
“Our situation as Black people necessitates that we have solidarity around the fact of race …We struggle together with Black men against racism, while we also struggle with Black men about sexism.” – Combahee River Collective statement
BLACK AGENDA is against the oppression of black women, and the black Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) community. We are against patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia. We oppose any cultural or religious practices that promote the oppression of black people, and black women in particular. We understand that at the centre of white supremacy, is the desire to devalue all black lives. White supremacy devalues blacks by sowing divisions amongst us, making black men feel as if they have (or should have) some form of power over black women and gender non-conforming people. This pseudo-power creates tensions within the black community (resulting in crimes like corrective rape and the high number of black male homicides), and stalls the process of black liberation.
In order to fragment black resistance, blacks are afforded pseudo-privileges above other blacks depending on their proximity to whiteness. Blacks who appear closer to whiteness are granted some sense of privilege, over blacks who appear further away. BLACK AGENDA rejects this hierarchisation based on skin tone (colourism), able-ism, tribalism, gender, sexual orientation, and income, and rejects the use of this hierarchy to determine the shape and form of black resistance and politics. As black people we must build the resistance with a sensitivity for our differences, which should be reaffirmed and represented throughout all black liberation movements. We must be united in the realization of a black socialist world, against a white supremacist system which oppresses all blacks, albeit unequally. Our unity is fundamentally unprincipled if there is a failure to recognize the involvement, substantive contribution, and leadership of blacks of varying configurations, especially those historically underrepresented in black liberation movements.
Historically, black men have been the leaders of black liberation movements – with women being reduced to the domestic space as helpers and nurtures. Those women that were part of movements have been ‘erased’ from the history books. As American Black Radical Feminist Joy James says, in the history books “[men] appear independent of women in revolutionary struggles; women generally appear as revolutionaries only in association with men, often as ‘helpmates.'” This has been a major shortcoming of many resistance movements in South African history, and is a shortcoming we shall not reproduce.
So, for a contemporary black liberation movement to prosper, the ideas, thoughts, and political input of black women need to be valued. Black women and LGBTQIA+ black people need to be at the forefront of all political and ideological actions of black radical politics.
Our objective is to take power and usher in a black first socialist system capable of responding to the total needs of blacks including the needs of women and gender non-conforming people’s. To this end we strive to bring about the end to the current racist capitalist relations that enables patriarchy, homophobia, and transphobia to thrive.
What Is To Be Done?
- Inspire a deepening of the analysis of the problem of patriarchy, homophobia and sexism in all its manifestations.
- Facilitate political-education programs regarding the following:
i) the oppression of women and gender non-conforming peoples, and what it will take to obliterate this oppression, and;
ii) the Black Agenda’s position on the subject matter, that is, it “is against the oppression of black women and all Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA+) black people’s – “(f)urthermore, it is against “patriarchy, sexism, and homophobia.” Moreover, the Black Agenda opposes “any cultural or religious practices that promote the oppression of anyone and black women in particular.” Clarity must be given as to what this commitment means.
- Support actions and organizations that are in line with the principles of the Black Agenda and by extension BLF.
- Devise and recommend policy that will serve to organize and mobilize members and the broader public into taking an uncompromising stance against the oppression of black women and other gendered persons. This policy must also extend to sexual orientation and gender identities freedoms.
- Devise and recommend ideological guidelines for the establishment, implementation and management of all organs of society to ensure that gender equality and sexual orientation freedoms are promoted, safeguarded and guaranteed.
- Devise ideological guidelines for the realization of monitoring and safeguarding mechanisms so as to address the offensive conduct of any individual and or entity.
- Draft and recommend legislation / policy that would effectively serve to destroy the root cause of patriarchy, sexism and sexual orientation oppressions, being white supremacy.