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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Creating Change panel addresses Black Feminism
Video below article
by Matt Simonette
2016-01-25

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Activists Barbara Smith, Reina Gossett and Charlene Carruthers reflected on the impact of the Black Feminist movement in contemporary racial justice movements in the opening plenary session for the 2016 Creating Change conference Jan. 21.

Stacey Long Simmons, a former Chicagoan who is now on staff at the National LGBTQ Task Force, moderated the discussion.

Smith defined Black Feminism as the right for Black women to define their own political destinies and issues, and she added that, historically, "that did not get us much love" from other movements. "We just wanted to make ourselves a space in the world."

Carruthers, national director of the Black Youth Project 100, spoke about being educated about Black women from her mother and how that led to her explorations of the intersections of multiple oppressions, "the idea—which shouldn't be radical—that Black women can be many things."

Gossett, a trans woman who is also a writer and artist, added that Black Feminism's progress is impeded by society's refusal to relinquish gender norms and binaries, many of which have been contributing to rampant violence against trans women of color. She also commended the activist work of CeCe McDonald, which is dedicated in large part to abolishing the prison industry.

Gossett said, "We can live in a world where prisons don't exist and police don't exist."

Carruthers attempted to address what restorative actions are possible for victims of violence if prisons were to be eliminated.

"It is never my place to tell the family [of violence victims] what they want," she said. "There has to be an alternative to prisons."

She added, "Police and prisons have not always existed, and they have been built on the backs of Black people."

Smith emphasized the necessity of vision and patience when activists try to bring on change. She recalled that, at a certain point, she and her colleagues realized, "We're going to be slogging for a long time. We have to stay firm and know our history. We have to understand that we are on a strong continuum of freedom fighters."



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