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Women's History Month Discussion Will 'Unpack' Black Feminism

A woman holds her fist in the air as she marches during a Black Lives Matter rally calling for racial justice following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Saturday, June 28, 2020, in Cincinnati.
Jason Whitman
A woman holds her fist in the air as she marches during a Black Lives Matter rally calling for racial justice following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Saturday, June 28, 2020, in Cincinnati.

Their names are often missing on the final scoresheet, but Black women have historically been at the front of the fight against injustices. The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is hosting a panel discussion March 11 on the importance of Black women in so many movements for justice.

The online panel discussion features:

  • Carolette Norwood, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology and assistant department head of the Department of Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies and director of the social justice program at the University of Cincinnati.
  • Djanna Hill, Ed.D., chairperson of the Department of Community and Social Justice Studies and professor of teacher education at William Paterson University.
  • Treva Lindsey, Ph.D., associate professor of women's, gender and sexuality studies at The Ohio State University.

"Black women and feminist-identified persons have been doing this social justice work without acknowledgement for far too long," Norwood tells WVXU. "One of the reasons this discussion is important is because it gives recognition; it calls the names of Black women who have been and who are currently in the trenches doing socially just advocacy work."

That work, she points out, is occurring both in the community and in higher education. For example, the Cite Black Women initiative pushes for the intentional inclusion of Black women in scholarly works, classroom syllabi, and generally making space for Black women to speak.

"This history of invisibility, the lack of acknowledgement of the work that we are doing and the movements that we are supporting and organizing and leading is problematic," Norwood says.

In the community, Norwood notes, some of the biggest and most well-known movements were started by Black women/female-identified persons: Black Lives Matter; reproductive justice; #MeToo; environmental justice; Stonewall.

Black feminism is grounded in anti-racist struggles, however, its focus is on all the ways Black people are oppressed from race to gender to sexuality. Norwood says she hopes people who join the online discussion will leave with an understanding of feminism and Black feminism and the diversity of people and issues it includes.

She says it's important to center Black feminism so people see and understand that Black women aren't just fighting for others, but for themselves as well.

"Black feminists center Black women," she says. "The experiences of (all) Black women, girls ... cis-gendered women, trans women, gender non-conforming and non-binary identified persons. It says that we're important - that we care enough about ourselves to also work for our own liberation. I think too often the assumption is that we're going to be laboring for other people's struggles without centering ourselves."

Norwood recommends the book Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women That a Movement Forgot by Mikki Kendall, though says it's not necessary to have read the book to participate in the discussion.

Program Details

Unapologetically Speaking: Unpacking Black Feminism

March 11 at 6 p.m.

Register here for the Zoom link.

Copyright 2021 91.7 WVXU. To see more, visit 91.7 WVXU.

Tana Weingartner earned a bachelor's degree in communication from the University of Cincinnati and a master's degree in mass communication from Miami University. Most recently, she served as news and public affairs producer with WMUB-FM. Ms. Weingartner has earned numerous awards for her reporting, including several Best Reporter awards from the Associated Press and the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists, and a regional Murrow Award. She served on the Ohio Associated Press Broadcasters Board of Directors from 2007 - 2009.