Quick note to my readers about today’s post: this weekend I found myself very frustrated with the pushback that I see black women receive for calling out the sexism within our own community. One of the most common arguments used to shut down these discussions is the ‘racial unity’ card-the idea that all other issues must be pushed aside, as addressing them distracts from our fight against White Supremacy. While chatting with my good friend Muhammad Kareem on the subject he made a very astute observation. I was so impressed that I asked him for permission to share it here and he agreed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Also for more commentary on the need for Black men and women to come together against sexism please check out my friend Doc Sinn’s post on the subject.
So let’s address an argument that didn’t hold weight 75 years ago, and doesn’t hold weight right now either. A fundamental flaw in the US Communist Party was that although they claimed to want a just, equitable society, they argued for the subordination of the Black struggle under the struggle for worker’s rights, arguing that first we make the working class revolution, then we can deal with things like the oppression of Black people.
The line of reasoning was that we all, as a working class, needed to unite over the specific ways that all of the working class was oppressed by the ruling class. What was not understood by the US Communist Party at the time was that unity does not mean subordinating the struggles of those that you are attempting to unite with under the ones that are most pressing to you at the moment. Quite the contrary. Unity means fighting for the struggles specific to those you are trying to unite with.
The same thing applies with Black men now. We need to stop pushing Black women’s particular struggles aside under the guise of “we need to be united against White supremacy”. If Black men want unity with Black women against the effects White supremacy has on us all, and to end the infighting that happens among a lot of Black men and women, then we need to fully support their struggles against the forms of oppression, exploitation, and marginalization that are unique to them as Black women.
Any Black man who attempts to marginalize or subordinate Black women’s struggles is not truly interested in liberation or justice for our people, but simply looking for just enough liberation for them to take the place as oppressors without being oppressed themselves. For those Black men, you are an obstacle to true liberation and to true unity.