Text Analysis A and B: “A Black Feminist Statement”

Option B: “A Black Feminist Statement”

  1. Page 15: “Above all else, our politics initially sprang from the shared belief that Black women are inherently valuable, that our liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else’s but because of our need as human persons for autonomy. This may seem so obvious as to sound simplistic, but it is apparent that no other ostensibly progressive movement has ever considered our specific oppression a priority or worked seriously for the ending of that oppression. Merely naming the pejorative stereotypes attributed to Black women (e.g., mammy, matriarch, saphire, whore, bulldagger), let alone cataloguing the cruel, often murderous treatment we receive, indicates how little value has been place upon our lives during four centuries of bondage in the Western Hemisphere”
    1. Sentence 1: The Combahee River Collective’ beliefs stem from the shared idea that there is a need to celebrate, appreciate, love, and view Black women as valuable for the literal fact that they exist alone and not solely in relation to other bodies.
    2. Sentence 2: White feminist movements as well as other movements for liberation have consistently, whether purposeful or not, left Black women out of the conversation by decentering their narratives and centering other identities.
    3. Sentence 3: While there have been movements that have brought Black women’s experiences into the conversation, they have solely spoken on the stereotypical ideas that surround them and once again lack any narrative that celebrates them.
  2. Overall Summary and relationship to understanding of Black girlhood
    1. The Combahee River Collective formed from the collective belief that Black women are long overdue for the celebration, love and appreciation they deserve as they are beyond valuable to society. While white feminist movements have attempted to show value to Black women and girls by discussing the narratives of white supremacy and patriarchal powers exploiting, oppressing, and subjugating them to harm in many ways more than one, acknowledging the mistreatment of Black women is not nearly enough. This is because of the fact that they are deserving of celebration. Under the framework of Black Girlhood Studies, one acknowledges that the entire experience of Black women and girls is incredibly important to discuss. This definitely means addressing all the ways in which Black women and girls are placed in harm's way due to systems and constructs that perpetuate norms that are harmful to their identities. On the other hand, it requires that Black Women and especially Girls be celebrated and appreciated for the value that they bring to society due to their unique experiences and culture.

Sources: Combahee River Collective. (2017). The combahee river collective statement.

Option A: Extra Work on the Same Source

In the Combahee River Collective’s “A Black Feminist Statement,” the truth that black women exist at the lowest ends of societal hierarchies due to the combination of racism and sexism is raised. The piece addresses specifically black women and girls, black lesbians, and overall the rest of the world as the statement attempts to center the experiences of marginalized black girls’ and women’s bodies. The reason for this is that “black feminist and many more Black women who do not define themselves as feminists have all experienced sexual oppression as a constant factor in [zos’] day-to-day existence” (page 14). The statement was also developed under a grant from the Women’s Educational Equity Act Program implying that its audience was far greater than the Black girlhood community and stretched to outside feminist groups, women, and the rest of the world. Furthermore, the audience is the Combahee River Collective members as this is a statement that helps them ground [their] work and what it is that zo are doing. At the very end of the piece, zo say that “as Black feminist and lesbians [they] know that [they] have a very definite revolutionary task to perform and [zo] are ready for the lifetime of work and struggle before [zo]” (Page 22).

While the statement argues that black women exist on the lowest end of the social hierarchy, it accentuates that the reasoning for this subjugation is because they are not only oppressed by systems of racism – but gender as well. In saying that “Black women have always embodied, if only in [zo] physical manifestation, an adversary stance to white male rule” they are stating the truth that the white, heteronormative, patriarchal systems that perpetuate violence on black bodies does not bring any privilege to zo based on zos’ identities. After branching off the second wave of white feminism and creating the black feminist movement, the Collective brought to light that one must go “beyond white women’s revelations because we are dealign with the implications of race and class as well as sex” while white feminism was soley dealing with gender, and a little bit class (page 17). In other words, the statement addresses the reality that Black women exist on a plane in which they are discriminated against, oppressed, subjugated, and stigmatized due to not only their race, but their gender as well.

In its relationship to Black girlhood studies, it very much seems that they are explicitly raising the consciousness of the truth that is black girl and woman academia and thinking. Zo says that “Black women thinkers are comparatively much higher than those against white women, particularly ones from the educated middle and upper class;’ however, this is not because zo are smarter. This is because, like we are learning in our class, black feminist thinking is a frame and “frames inform what we see, fail to see, and what we have been taught to see” (Hill; class, Feb 8, 2022)

While it is easy to say that I cannot relate to this text based on my identities, the reality to me is that I wouldn’t be trying hard enough if I said something like this. To me, this text fits into my world by helping me understand that oppression exists on intersecting planes. Furthermore, it also enables me to understand the separate worlds that are black women and black girls and how I have been someone who has perpetuated the idea of black girls being black women rather than girls. I also feel that this text really helps me to grasp even more how black girlhood studies is constant and requires a “lifetime of work” (page 22)


Combahee River Collective. (2017). The combahee river collective statement.

Combahee River Collective: A Black Feminist Statment: In But Some of Us are Brave: Notes

  1. Page 1:
    1. They are directly related to the struggle against racial, sexual, heterosexual, and class oppression
    2. Black feminism is the logical political movment to combat the manifold and simultaneous oppressions that all women of color face
  2. Page 13-14: The genesis of Contemporary Black Feminism
    1. Find origins in the life and death struggle for siviaval and liberation
    2. Black women inherently have a negative relationship to the american political system
    3. Black women are the physical adversary to the white man
    4. Grew out of the second wave of feminism
    5. There is a connection to movments for black liberation
    6. There is a personal genisis for black feminism
    7. All black women have expereienced sexual oppression as a constant in their life
  3. Page 15-16
    1. Black women are still kept from looking into their experiences
    2. They are brought together on the idea of antiracism and sexism positions
  4. Page 15-16: what we believe
    1. They believe that black woemn are inherently valuable
      1. This must be said
    2. Politics evolve from a healthy love for eachother and themselves and their community
    3. They don’t want pedestals or recognition above others but levelness and humaneness
    4. Liberation of all oppressed people necessitates the destruction of the political economic systems of capitalism and imperialism as well as the patrairchy
  5. Page 17-18
    1. The personal is political
    2. They have gone beyond white womens revelations because race and class as well as sex come into play
    3. Sanctions in the black and white communities against black women thinkers are cmparatively much hgiher than those against white owmen, particularly ones from educated middle and uper clases
    4. Reject the stance of lesbian speratism
      1. It excludes too many
    5. It denies anything but the sexual sources of womens oppression negating to class and race
  6. Page 18-19: Problems in organizing black feminists
    1. They have no priveledge to rely upon
    2. The toll of being a black woman can never be under estimated
    3. Feminism is very threatening to the majority of black people because it calls into question their existence
    4. That gender should be a determinate of power
    5. Black men’s reaction to feminism has been notoriously negative
      1. They are threatened by the loss of a newly gained freedom or any kind of power
      2. Black feminism divides black men and women
  7. Page 20-22: Black Feminist Issues and Practice
    1. They are concerned with any situation that takes away from woemn and those of third world people in general
      1. Want to work on class struggles of race sex and more
      2. Want to publically address racism in the white women’s movemnt
      3. Eliminating racism in the white women’s movement is for white women to do and they will hold them accountable
      4. There is no messing with people in the name of politics
        1. In the end no one shoudl be at a loss
        2. They understand that feminism is continuous and dynamic
        3. Critical of the self is the most important aspect

Combahee River Collective Statement

  1. Paragraph 1-2
    1. Combahee river collective is a black feminist group
    2. Introduction to a statment about the combahee river collective
  2. Paragraph 3-4
    1. They cowrote a book for feminist presss in the 1980
      1. Aimed at women who teach black womens studies
    2. Sojourner had a women’s newsaper written after her
    3. BArbara smith was the woman that wrote this
  3. Paragraph 8-9
    1. Combahee river collective is a black feminist organization in washington
      1. They do work on defining the politics of black women
    2. They want to speak on the black lesbians of the world and how their politics are and their dangers in the reality of homophobia in the black community
  4. A black feminist statment
    1. They are activiely commited to struggling against racial, sexual, heterosexual and class oppression and see as our particular task the development of interlocking systems of oppression
    2. Following paper discusses
      1. Creation of contemporary black feminism
        1. Word gensis is used: makes it seem biblical which is interstic
      2. What they beleive
      3. Problem of organizing black feminists
      4. Black feminists issues and practices
  5. The gensis of contemporary black feminism
    1. the y find the historical reality of afro american women to be a continues life and death struggle for survival and liberation
      1. There is an incredibly negative realtionship to the american political system
      2. Angela Davis
        1. Black women embody an adversary stance to white male rule and have resisted its power over them in comuniteis in all ways
        2. Black women activists:
          1. Sojourner truth
          2. Harriet tubman,
          3. Frances E W harper
          4. Wells Barnett
          5. Mary Church terrell
      3. Contemproary black feminism is the outgrowth of countless generations of personal sacrifice militancy and work by black women
    2. Black femenist presence has evolved with the second wave of american women’s movement
    3. Black feminism was greatly affected by civil rights movment, black nationalism, the black panthers , and more
    4. There is a personal genisis for black feminsim which is the indiviudual experiences of black women i
      1. They were told to be quiet for the sake of lady like and white people
    5. The development of black feminism must be tied to the economic and political position of black people
      1. As a result of “tokenism” some black people have gained a sturdy life under capitalism
  6. What we believe
    1. Black women are valuable beyond exploitation
    2. Liberation is a necessity for black women
    3. They believ that no one has worked for their liberation so they are the only people that desire to do so and can do so
    4. Identity politics
      1. The most profound and radical politics come out of their own identity
    5. They are not advocating for fractionalization between that of white women, black men
    6. They do want solidarity under their race and dont want the solidarity of the white man unless it is negative solidatrity as racial oppressors
    7. There is a struggle with blck men about racism and sexism
    8. Liberation of all people must be from the destruction of capitalism
      1. Work must be for a collective benefit
    9. The personal is political
      1. There is a cultural and political side that is different for black women than white women
      2. Black women are at a lower level than white women and black men
    10. They reject lesbian separatism
    11. Any kind of biological determinism is a a dangerous and reactionary basis which builds up politics
  7. Problems in organizing black feminists
    1. In comparison the white women's movement has been successful and strong and growing in many directions
    2. They are trying to address a whole range of oppressions not just one or a few
    3. The toll of being a black women cannot be underestimated
      1. Their value is one that reflects racist and sexist cultures