Towards an Explicit, Intentional and Widely Expanded Black Feminist Vision


Towards an Explicit, Intentional and Widely Expanded Black Feminist Vision

Author: Farah Tanis

I developed this document in the Fall of 2012. Right around the time I was, as I usually am, consumed with writing, editing, producing Mother Tongue Monologues which that year, was not only to focus on the issue of rape and historical trauma we as Black sisters hold in our bodies, but to reclaim and rediscover love, pleasure, and freedom.

I am still figuring out whether the visions contained in this document should be referred to as principles or whether to brand them as, yet another feminist manifesto. Still, they are a visioning. For now, I call them principles until such time I and my other Black feminist sisters can come up with a more appropriate, more creative reference.

The 20 points contained within this document are for now Black Feminist Principles. The document is based on my research of various indigenous people of color’s ancestral and contemporary concepts of human rights, fueled by ideology and practices within global women’s movements and by Black feminists in the United States, throughout the Caribbean and especially on the African continent. I credit Dominic Bradley and Alyssa Baylor for their edits and for informing specific principles around the Black body, gender identity and sexuality.  This document of Black Feminist Principles does not reflect every single vision of course. It doesn’t reflect every hope and dream for the future of Black feminism in thought or action, but it seeks to offer an ever evolving blueprint on which many of us can choose to expand, become inspired by or use in our daily actions, our daily work, and daily lives.

Principle 1 Challenge sexism as intensely as you challenge racism, class oppression, and oppression based on sexuality, gender expression and other identities.
Principle 2 Educate yourself and others about the indivisibility, inalienability and universality of human rights for women as well as all people.
Principle 3 Practice your right to be visible and demand an end to the persistent erasure and invisibility of Black women in all spheres.
Principle 4 Practice your right to hold personal spaces, political spaces, religious spaces, spaces of art and entertainment, or any other space that facilitate and sustain and that do not undermine or sabotage Black women’s ability to address the depth of oppressions experienced by Black women past and present.
Principle 5 Promote inclusion by building productive alliances while encouraging effective participation by those most impacted by the issues of concern.
Principle 6 Build mutual respect among Black women, non-black women, men and gay, intersex and transgender people based on honest and open dialogue about difference, as well as the mutuality and interconnectedness of our liberation struggles.
Principle 7 Challenge all oppressive forces impeding Black women’s survival and create opportunities for positive and productive quality of life conducive to women’s freedoms and well-being.
Principle 8 Build and strengthen progressive organizing and networking by Black women to bring about transformational change for themselves, their families, their communities, and their governments.
Principle 9 Commit to freedom of self expression, sexually, artistically, esthetically, and linguistically.
Principle 10 Practice non-violence and the achievement of non-violent societies.
Principle 11 Work to erase the class divisions that affect Black women’s collective organizing and demand that all women have access to sustainable economic opportunities, health care, housing, just livelihoods as well as the right to welfare provision.
Principle 12 Work towards freedom of choice, the right to body autonomy and bodily integrity, including reproductive justice, sexual and gender identity and sexual orientation.
Principle 13 Rally as fiercely around women, as you would around men and transgender people, who fall prey to repression and abuse by the state and officials of the state, including the criminal justice systems.
Principle 14 Practice a consistent and critical engagement with discourses of religion, culture, tradition and domesticity with a focus on the centrality of women’s rights, the recognition of their work in contributions in all of these spheres.
Principle 15 Work for recognition and the presentation of Black women, no matter their background, as the subjects not the objects of our work, and as agents in their own lives and societies.
Principle 16 Practice healthy, authentic and mutually respectful and fulfilling personal relationships in all professional, social and intimate domains.
Principle 17 Encourage and nurture the expression of spirituality within or outside of organized religions.
Principle 18 Create countless spaces for the acknowledgment of Black women’s feminist, anti-oppression and womanist agency and continue to record and document our rich history.
Principle 19 Encourage Black women to revel in their own bodies, their sexuality, their sexual pleasure, and to demand and practice ownership and control the representations of their bodies in media.
Principle 20 Develop strong commitment to working across sexualities and genders to radically challenge patriarchy and its derivatives—sexism, heterosexism, femiphobia, lesbiphobia, transphobia and homophobia.

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