Tuesday, August 30, 2011
What Sistas Want, What Sistas Believe
Black Feminist Twelve Point Plan
We are a collective of black feminists/womanists activists who are committed to the liberation of the black community. As black women the conditions of our lives are created by interlocking systems of oppression. As a collective we oppose all forms of oppression and are continuously working to develop our analysis to be effective allies with other marginalized communities. We created this platform to address the misconceptions about what black feminists/womanists believe, where our allegiances lie and what we want for the black community. We recognize that the problems that exists within the black community are connected to larger systems of oppression and domination. However, this document addresses those issues that disportionately affect the black community because this is the community that we as black feminists identify as our homebase and foundation. We developed this statement from a place of love and not divisiveness, as we struggle along with our brothas and black people of all genders for the safety, security, and liberation of our community. We believe that the liberation of black women is necessary and integral to the liberation of the black community and not separate from it.
1.WE WANT FREEDOM.
We believe that freedom is only possible through individual and community self-determination. In order for the black community to achieve self-determination all systems of oppression must be dismantled.
2. We want a reformation of the criminal justice system, the abolition of the prison industrial complex and the implementation of community based models of justice and accountability.
This system has routinely targeted Black folks in the form of police brutality and covert corruption in the penal system that has led to the mass incarceration of Black people. The prison system violates human rights, causes the separation of families and capitalizes off the neo-slave labor of Black and Brown bodies that has been the basis of a profitable prison industrial complex.
3. We want control over our reproductive health and believe it is essential to building and maintaining strong black communities.
The United States government has, from its inception, consistently attempted to regulate, scapegoat and profit from the reproductive capabilities of black people. The denial of reproductive justice and autonomy began during slavery and continues today in the form of sterilization abuses, purposeful prescription of harmful contraceptives, and the targeting of black women as eugenicists for demanding access to safe and legal abortions. We demand an end to the pathology and criminalization of black motherhood and families the right to affordable and safe reproductive health care for all.
4. We want an end to all forms of physical, emotional, and sexual violence against black children.
We oppose the continued removal of black children from their homes by state agencies and see it as a part of a continued assault on black families and a form of cultural genocide. Children in general, and black children in particular, are seen as less than human which makes them easy targets in a system where dependence is seen as weakness and vulnerability. Therefore we recognize that dismantling systems of oppressions that promote hierarchies of dehumanization are in the best interest of black children. Specifically we want to break the cycles of violence that exist in our communities.
5. We want media to reflect the diversity of who we are, to include our voices, value our bodies and our stories.
We believe that the media both mirrors and shapes society. Therefore there is a need to develop a critical eye towards our media consumption, as the media is a system that perpetuates oppression. We believe in a shared responsibility to consume, demand and create the messages and representations that truly reflect our humanity.
6. We want an end to poverty and the development of an economy that benefits and provides for all people.
We believe that capitalism is a destructive system that commodifies people and the planet and promotes oppression. As black feminists and working people, we want jobs with dignity and a wage that is consistent with the real costs of living and ensures all people access to basic human needs. We want an economy that treats all labor as meaningful and valuable to society. Specifically, we want an end to the devaluation of the labor of marginalized people as well as the work that is usually confined to the lowest wage job segments. We want a foreign economic policy based in equity and fair trade.
7. We want education for liberation that includes equitable distribution of funding, culturally relevant curriculum, community control of schools and an end to the school to prison pipeline.
As Black folks we have a history of communally organized educational spaces and understand that education can be used as a tool for liberation or reinforcing systems of oppression. We want an end to curriculum centered on standardized testing and one that prioritizes the development of critical thinking and creativity.
8. We want access to secure, equal, safe, affordable and hazard free housing (public and private), community land rights, residencies of our choice and an end to homelessness.
We demand lease security, stabilized rent control, an end to discriminatory lending practices, poor shelter systems and the continuous displacement of Black and Brown folks from natural disasters and gentrification.
9. We want to live in a society where we can feel safe and protected.
We believe that we must work together to create safe spaces in both our homes and the public spaces our bodies occupy. We reject language that promotes hatred and fear and seek to promote healing and transformation by breaking longstanding cycles of violence in the Black community. Whether verbal, physical, emotional, or sexual, we must break the silence around all violence, and the various ways it encroaches on our daily living.
10. We want an end to invisibility, violence and homophobia towards LGBTQ people in our community.
We believe that sexual desire and the expression of that desire is normal, healthy , and varied and that people should be free to express their desires without fear of violence.
A diversity of gender identities, body expressions and sexual performances is and has always been apart of the Black Diasporic community. We want protections and resources for our young people around homlessness, bullying and healthcare. We believe that the sexual and gender liberation of women and queer folk are interlocking struggles that cannot be won on a fragmented front. We believe in gender self -determination and demand an end to violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people.Homophobia and other forms of hatred are the antithesis of the life-affirming communities we desire to create. We want all black people to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ people of African descent for the futures of our young people and the generations to come.
11. We want a world where respect of the Earth’s resources is central to every human society and economic system.
We believe that it is necessary that humanity creates, builds, and operates from the understanding that we are part of nature, not separate or above it. As women’s reproductive health, the growth and development of our children and the longevity of our elders are all interconnected to the well-being of our environment, we believe in education and action around local sustainable agriculture and food security, safe drinking water, environmental preservation and the reduction of environmental toxins in our communities. We want an end to environmental injustices that deteriorate the health, resources and land of poor Black, Brown and Indigenous communities. We must all take part in resisting the consumerism and materialism of capitalism and instead value sustainable lifestyles and economic systems that honor ecological balance.
12. We want a black community free of sexism and sexist oppression, where Black Women can be self-determined members of their community.
We believe that sexism and sexist oppression limit both individual and collective freedom, as an individuals inability to self-actualize hinders the growth of the community . People of all genders need to address ideas of masculinity, femininity, and sexual normativity that limit potential, and inspire abuse and hatred. We want our Brothas to challenge all negative assumptions and actions against Black Women. We demand for them to look upon us as allies in ending all forms of oppression, regardless of our own political affiliations i.e. Black Feminism. We also want them to see issues pertaining to Black Women as viable issues that the whole community should address, and how it is important that Black Women speak of these issues inside of our community, without retaliation. We demand our right to be recognized as autonomous and complete human beings.
*This twelve point platform was created by the Black Feminist Working Group (BFWG). (Iresha Picot, Kimberly Murray, Tiamba Wilkerson, Nuala Cabral, Darasia Shelby and Ladi’Sasha Jones).
**This document is inspired by the work and legacy of the Combahee River Collective and the Black Panther Party for Self Defense. Contact BFWG at Blackfeministgroup@gmail.com