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Of Activists, Feminism, & Mammy issues

Of Activists, Feminism, & Mammy issues

1. If your biggest complaint about American black women & their activism is that they are so focused on their fight that they aren’t willing to fight your battles? It might be time to examine your internalized Mammy issues.

2. If you think we owe you admission to our spaces & silence while you’re in them? It might be time to examine your internalized Mammy issues.

3. If you think we owe you our time, energy, & passion and you owe us nothing? It is time to examine your Mammy issues.

I’m not here to clean up your mess, carry your spear, hold your hand, or cheer you own while I suffer in silence. I’m not here to raise your children, assuage your guilt, build your platforms, or fight your battles. If you don’t like the spaces that we’ve carved out for ourselves, or the way we run them? That’s fine. BUILD YOUR OWN SPACES! DO YOUR OWN WORK! You want a partner? I’m down. You want a Mammy? Get away from me before I really hurt your feelings.

Newsflash: That Mammy thing? That claptrap about the happy servant overjoyed to leave her family to serve someone else’s? That was just that a convenient myth for racists. Those same racists are still exporting the ideal that we are too loud, too angry, too ugly, & too beastly to be treated as human. We heard it when we were slaves & we heard it through Jim Crow, & we are still hearing it now as we sit at the intersection of racism & misogyny in our own culture.That’s why we’re fighting back on our own terms.

We are fighting a war on so many sides that it isn’t even funny & we already know that many of our so called allies will stab us in the back if it benefits their cause. We have had this fight with black men, white women, the LGBT community, & so many others that I could write three lists. So, if all you have to say to us is more whining about how we’re not making activism easier for you? We don’t care. We’re not going to care. Pick up the tools we’ve already created & use them or go wallow in your misery somewhere else.

Now, please go tell it on the mountain about how I’ve silenced you & let me know if that accomplishes anything for your cause.  I’ll tell you a secret…it won’t do anything, but keep you wasting your energy on supporting the same oppressors you claim to be fighting. Address those Mammy issues, address your own issues, do something about some issue somewhere except look at us to fix it for you.

10 comments to Of Activists, Feminism, & Mammy issues

  • Layogenic

    As a member of LGBT safe spaces and activism, I have seen and heard the “homophobia is just like racism!” card being played for support. Too rarely is the converse applied, of course, but even so. If only people could be relied on as at least safe to turn your back on, be it from a direct attack or an exhausting plea for more of your own energy, that should be enough.

    When the Proposition 8 (restriction of marriage to straight couples) battle was happening here in California, I reached an intersection there of race and sexuality (and philosophy) when my black women friends voted against gay marriage for faith reasons. It was a terrible blow, and I’m sure I said things I shouldn’t have about support and safety. But I don’t think it’s possible for different people with different issues to fight all their friends’ wars as well, and as allies we need to be able to accept that.

    Anyway, thanks for the post, more Power to you.

  • Abigail Younger

    Right on Sister. I LOVE what you wrote. I have been reading you for a minute, but this time you hit the nail on the head…keep speaking up….we need you…and the truth will set the rest of them free.

  • Feminists who are dedicated to fighting the evils of racism, sexism, homophobia etc have a huge battle to deal with. It is only logic that a feminist, pro feminist, activist should be allowed to concentrate on a particular area of importance. Otherwise they will become overwhelmed.

    I agree that we each need to concentrate on our own areas. But we should try and be respectful of others who are trying to fight a similar battle but in a different way.

    • Women of color don’t have the privilege of being single-issue. Neither do LGBTQ women or disable women because we are all affected by different forms of oppression at different times and at the same time.

      • Feminists often create unnecessary problems for themselves by tying to deal with too much. While it is absolutely true that some have to deal with multiple issues like, racism, sexism and homophobia at the same time. We have to remember that if we are going to try and save the world by taking on all forms of oppression, then we are going to fail.

        We are indeed fighting battles on every front. This means we have to be very careful with our recourses by not over stretching them. But rather ensuring that we are using them to achieve multiple benefits.

        • But what you’re asking is for some issues to step back and take a number. Not only is it not fair, it’s also rather impossible since oppressions intersect (sexualized racism, for example). How can one issue be given precedence over another and why should it?

          • Christina

            It is not just about one issue taking prominence over another. It is about prioritising and planing your life. If your country is under attack and fighting many battles, but your country has limited resources then different battles will take priority over others at different points of the war. Yet all battles are equally important.

            • But often the ones who make the decision as to what battles get priority are the ones with privilege. Meanwhile, marginalized bodies can either sit and wait for help to come our way, or we can start a movement of our own. And that’s why I identify more with womanism than with feminism.

    • Witchsistah

      Look, if you’re trying to formulate an excuse for White feminists not to give a shit about anyone but themselves (and who are these “feminists” otherwise? I can tell you know, most feminists of color are NOT just focused on sexism or “women’s issues.”), then do not expect nor show any sort of being taken aback, real or affected at, my Black ass to show you and yours any support whatsoever. To quote T-shirts I saw a lot of in the 90s, “Don’t ask me 4 SHIT!” I’ll have my hands full “concentrating on [my] own area” to give a shit about you and yours.

  • Peeved BW

    I just commented this to someone today, albeit not as politely.

    I love you for this post!!!