Widgets Magazine


My claim to Black feminism has nothing to do with you

My debut article for The Daily was titled, “My claim to Black feminism,” where in less than 900 words I argued against imaginary bigots/feminists that I had the right to identify as a disciple to an ideology that made sense of my life.

As if I needed an explanation.

I began the article with a Sojourner Truth quote and not one from my mother.

I sprinkled academic jargon, and I provided some historical evidence to add rhetorical meat. As if I needed a watered-down argument to grant me humanity in the eyes of people who still think I’m racist when I say I am a Black feminist.

To be honest, my claim to Black feminism did not live in that article I wrote a year ago. I’ll boldly assert that my claim to Black feminism lives in every breath I take, because my claim to Black feminism is my claim to life.

I once stated that my introduction to Black feminism came from a white, heterosexual, cisgendered, able-bodied, middle-class man who told me that he looked at everything in his life from a Black feminist lens. He told me that he saw the world through a Black feminist lens because of the language he found in the works of Black feminist writers. The intersectionality, self-love and centering of what he saw as radical justice made sense in what he imagined as a more just, compassionate and desirable future.  

It is horrific and ironic that I envisioned this man as my Black feminism definer. I could not see the value in the existence and life experiences of all of the women around me who do not have a Ph.D.; however, they will always be the most brilliant and resilient professors of my education. I needed an educator dressed in hegemonic legitimacy for me to see the arsenal of knowledge that comes with just living an experience.

I credited him as my works cited, as if I was not granddaughter to Betty. As if I was not sister to B and Litha. As if I was not friend to Measha. As if I did not have the blood of Black women in my veins and their stories on the tip of my tongue.

As if I did not value the knowledge I garnered in 18 years, as if I did not appreciate the cellular memory of 400 years.

My claim to Black feminism was never supposed to be an article to imaginary people to whom I thought I didn’t make sense. My claim to Black feminism just is.

Yes, Black feminism has historical grounding. Yes, Black feminism is rich with brilliant writers and scholars who provided a framework and critical analysis for this school of thought. However, all of that is supplementary to the standpoint knowledge that just being a Black woman brings.

I can write all of my articles about why Black feminism matters, but unless you can feel me on a deeper level — beyond words and scholarly interrogation — you will never understand me.

I’m fine with that. This column is about centering voices and viewpoints counter to the mainstream noise. It’s about learning how to listen, question and change. It’s about valuing the differences between experiences and affirming them.

That is what Black feminism is about.

My truth is valid without being in agreement with those who do not understand. My truth is mine. There is no way I can gift you with a catchphrase or a neatly packaged opinion column on why my claim to Black feminism is worthy.

I shouldn’t have to. There should never be questions of legitimacy around an identity that centers those who have resisted constant oppressive erasure.

I named this column Evolving because that is my truth. Just as Black feminism is my truth.

Welcome to round two.


Contact Mysia Anderson at mysia ‘at’ stanford.edu.

About Mysia Anderson

Mysia Anderson '17 is a sophomore majoring in African & African American studies. She is from Miami, Florida and is an unapologetic Black feminist. She enjoys poems about love, free food, and dancing to Beyoncé. You can contact Mysia at mysia@stanford.edu.
  • james

    “It’s about learning how to listen, question and change.” You don’t strike me as someone who is open to listening to those with different ideas and viewpoints.

    An editorial should have the goal of persuading others over to your point of view. You fail miserably in that. If your only goal is pat yourself on the back, why waste time with a self-serving article.

  • Tesay

    You missed the whole point of the article with your “self-serving” comment.

  • Enoughofthis

    Great, I’ll have nothing to do with your black feminism.

  • feed the funk

    You’re lazy and while I respect that wholeheartedly (when talking not wanting to fight war, invest in stocks, drill for oil, or factory farm tilapia) I find it rather troubling in this case of simply acknowledging someone else’s human perspective. Don’t forget, in your haste, that the world you live in has more to offer than signatures and good plumbing.

  • Guest

    “I can write all of my articles about why Black feminism matters, but unless you can feel me on a deeper level — beyond words and scholarly interrogation — you will never understand me.”

    I’m guessing most casual readers don’t “feel you” on a “deeper level” on this one. Not sure what you’re trying to do with this, but it is lazy and pompous writing. Akin to: if this doesn’t resonate with you, you’re wrong, and you’ll never understand us better folk.

  • eloelz

    Yea! Let’s give you props for merely existing! Where do I sign up?

  • blackisback

    As a fellow Black feminist, I totally agree. We don’t have to answer to anyone

  • mogden

    “Cisgendered” is a made up word, and quite an offensive one.

  • duh!

    So you literally cannot be challenged on any level, on any claim… Think this through a little more, Mysia…. Imagine your thinking applied to other cultural/race-oriented movements, esp. those with which you take offense… Scary stuff, right?

  • Locke

    What’s the point of the article, then? I agree with James; the vibe seemed to me self-centered outraged indignation with no call to action and no point of persuasion.

    Curious to hear what you took away and how this article changes the way you look at things.

  • Grant

    Back to business as usual I see; complaining, talking about how much adversity you face, and telling others how lucky and privileged they are. Not creating anything useful to society, not inventing, not generating new ideas and solutions just complaining. And it seems that’s what you want to do for a living, after going to a university like stanford..sad

  • student

    OMG you guys are so special! Everyone else has to answer to people but you don’t!

  • Student

    This is amazing, thank you! You have articulated the truths I’ve been struggling to understand for so long.