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Combahee River Collective: Exploration of Intersectionality

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Jayme Nicole

on 27 February 2017

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Transcript of Combahee River Collective: Exploration of Intersectionality

First major statement that addressed intersectional identity.
Answer to the perceived lack of consciousness among black women and highlights the sociopolitical agenda for black women.
Combahee River Collective
What is Intersectionality?
During the 1960s, black women were excluded from the Black Liberation Movements and the Women's Liberation Movements.
These movements only addressed one component of their identity, not ALL components.
Statement needed to be created to specifically address black women's lives and political agenda.
Highlights how race, gender, and class intersect and inclusive to one's identity.
Intersectionality Resulted from Exclusion of Black Women
This perspective further manifested itself in the United States during the 1960s, where black women were attempting to position themselves within various spaces.
Commitment to the struggle against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression.
Integration of identities as inclusive to one's identity.
Not a manifestation of one identity, but several identities.
Black feminist lesbian organization active in Boston from 1974-1980
Created the foundation for Black feminist thought and praxis.
Women wrote this document as a means of clarifying their politics while doing work on behalf of those politics.
Exposed the multiple identities of black women.

Who Were These Women?
Genesis of Contemporary Black Feminism
Mission Statement of Combahee River Collective
Problems in Organizing Black Feminists
Black Feminist Issues and Projects
Components in the "Black Feminist Statement"
"There is also undeniably a personal genesis for black feminism, that is, the political realization that comes from the seemingly personal experiences of individual black women's lives."
"In the process of conscious-raising, actually life sharing, we began to recognize the commonality of our experiences and, from that sharing and growing consciousness, to build a politics that will change our lives and inevitably end our oppression."
Genesis of Contemporary Black Feminism
Combahee River Collective: Exploration of Intersectionality
Mission Statement
"We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation is us. Our politics evolve from a healthy love for ourselves, our sisters, and our community which allows us to continue our struggle and work."
"...from looking at all the political movements that preceded us to anyone is more worthy of liberation than ourselves. We reject pedestals, queenhood, and walking ten spaces behind.
To be recognized as human, levelly human, is enough.
"
"...we have in many ways, gone beyond white women's revelations because we are dealing with implications of race and class as well as sex."
Problems Organizing
Problem 1: Difficulty organizing around black feminist issues.
Problem 2: Difficult announcing identity as black feminists.
Problem 3: Tackling a range of oppressions, not just one or two.
Problem 4: Lack of privilege (racial, sexual, heterosexual, or class) that they may rely on to gain resources or power that other groups have.
Problem 5: Low priority placed on black women's psyche.
Problem 6: Term "feminism" demonized within the black community (negative reactions from both black men and women)
Black Feminist Issues and Practice
"Issues and projects that collective members have actually worked on sterilization abuse, abortion rights, battered women, rape, and healthcare. We have also many workshops and educationals on black feminism on college campuses, at women's conferences, and most recently for high school women."
"We believe in collective process and nonhierarchical distribution of power within our own group and in our vision of a revolutionary society."
What are they REALLY saying?
Recognizing interlocking oppression of black women.
Analysis and means of destroying capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy through black feminism.
Racism within the white women’s organization, sexism within black organizations, and need for black women to create their own organization.
Theory meets with praxis for black women.
How intersectionality is a reality for black women, not simply a theory.
How political agendas for black women should be inclusive of their intersectional identities.
Text As a Response to...
Extension of Simone de Beauvoir's discussion of woman as ultimate "other";
Extension of 2nd wave feminist discourse that attempts to answer, "What is woman?"
Responding to marginalization of black women within feminist movements.
Responding to marginalization of black women within black liberation movements.
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