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Black Womanhood in Britain


Yesterday I attended my first feminist meeting which was hosted by Black Feminist UK and was aimed at women of colour (not specifically black).
Not knowing what to expect from the event and to be honest a little nervous, I ended up having an amazing evening talking to and listening to other similar minded women.

The organisers had invited members of the Brixton Black Women’s Group who in the 60s, 70s and early 80s actively campaigned and supported the black UK community as well as highlighting and supporting the plights of black people in African and America back in the days. The group disbanded in the late 80s/ early 90s as many of the women left the country or focused their energies elsewhere, though what they managed to achieve has made a profound effect on the present lives of black people in London.

I won’t lie at times I felt a little out of my depths, aside from the women elders I was in a room filled with PHD students, organisation/social workers and activist. My introduction to the group was feeble and so were my contributions to the small group discussions, were my correlation of ‘direct action’ to fashion and consumerism didn’t go down to well!
So I simply sat and listened most of the evening, which wasn’t hard considering so many great pearls of wisdom were expressed, such as, the Brixton Black Women’s Group protested against the contraceptive injection being trialled in Britain on black women, also they supported their community through race riots and fires back in the racial hostile days in Britain.

The feeling of female solidarity in the room was amazing but what stood out to me most was their definition of ‘black’. With the room filled with women from Caribbean, African and Asian descent, I love the fact that they all proudly described themselves as ‘black women’, all eager to highlight the gender and racial struggles of ‘black women’. 
Black for once wasn’t being used to denote a person of African heritage; instead it was used to define the struggle of being oppressed by their white patriarch oppressors.

I found this refreshing and bizarrely liberating, I guess because it linked me to a collective entity instead of the defragmented identity surrounded with being black British as apposed to Caribbean, American or African.

I’m pleased I attended the meeting and am looking forward to attending more in future.  My personal understanding of the importance and need for black feminism in a tangent to feminism (which is reserved for white women), comes from writing by my favourite author and idol Bell Hooks, along with other black American women such as Ida B and Angela Davis. To hear that black British women have such an interesting history (or herstory) enthrals and incites curiosity in me. It also deeply saddens me that access to this sort of information is limited and goes unpublished.

I guess today marks the first day of my journey as a black feminist.

Reference Links:
Remember Olive Morris

Recommended Reads:
Ain't I A Woman, Bell Hooks
Black Looks: Race and Representation, Bell Hooks

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