Accepted paper:

Re-Visiting Solidarity: Feminist Thought and Practice in Africa and the Diaspora


Cheryl Rodriguez (University of South Florida)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines Black women’s complex relationships to feminism by analyzing specific examples of struggles for gender equity in Africa and the United States and by considering the ways in which Black feminisms intersect in global exchanges. By defining feminism as a conscious process with divergent and complex meanings for Black women in Africa and in the United States, this research also considers Black feminist epistemology as a productive mechanism for facilitating ongoing dialogue, leadership and action between women as scholars and activists.

Paper long abstract:

Although not always recognized as such, Black women's resistance, militancy and activism in the mid-20th century were indeed, globalized and internationalized political processes. In South Africa as well as in the southern United States, for example, Black women played major roles in the eventual dismantling of racially oppressive policies and practices. The profound line, "we are the ones we've been waiting for" from June Jordan's "Poem for South African Women" boldly asserts that Black women everywhere are not only powerful but also capable of creating change for themselves, their families, their communities and the world. Jordan's provocative words also suggested a nascent but certain sense of empowerment grounded in an explicitly feminist consciousness that examined the intersecting realities of women's lives and that transcended geographic and political borders. The late 20th century was an era of defining and clarifying Black feminist politics. Scholars and activists began to peel back the fabric of what Barbara Smith called the "multilayered texture" of Black women's lives. Scholarship privileging Black women's voices emerged in the U.S. and Africa. This paper asks: How is feminism defined by Black women in the 21st century? Is there a transnational Black feminist community? In what ways do feminist scholars and activists transcend divergent definitions of feminist thought and practice in order to build solidarity? How does feminist thought and practice influence struggles for economic and social justice in Africa and the diaspora?

panel G04
Local and global emergence of women's leadership in a changing world (IUAES Commission on the Anthropology of Women)