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Black Women and Intersectionality

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at NCSU chapter.

To be a Black woman in America, is to be exhausted. Black women are constantly fighting to be treated with common decency and respect, fighting against all aspects of a system designed to keep us down, and fighting against those in different sectors of our community because they do not understand the intersectionality that exists to create our world view. Black women are tired of explaining themselves, their hair, their clothes, the way they speak, and the way they express themselves. Tired of fighting stereotype after stereotype, the “mammy, matriarch, Sapphire, whore, bulldagger, jezebel, etc.” (The Combahee River Collective Statement, 1997). The energy and resilience it takes to live in this country is a tremendous hardship, and Black women continue to brave it every day in order to fight for the rights they deserve. 

Throughout the historic movements of Civil Rights, Black Power, BLM, and Me Too, monumental change has occurred for the marginalized and oppressed. However, while being heavily backed and supported by Black women, these movements tend to leave them out. To exist as a Black woman in America is to challenge the system, a system designed by White men created off the backs of black and brown people. Our white counterparts in the feminist movement continue to perpetuate race-based oppression, capitalizing on our struggles in order to free themselves of their own. For so long, the interests of  White women did not align with those of Black women; their goal was to leave the role of the housewife and integrate into the workforce, something Black women have been forced into for a long time. A White woman’s claim to their title of white is an attempt to gain privileges that mirror that of a White man.

Similarly, Black men tend to leave Black women behind and discriminate based on gender. Clinging to their masculinity to gain access to the same rooms White men reside in. Both parties are somehow always striving towards the unattainable. Black women have known there is no point in striving towards that goal, for they would have never had a chance. As Black women, our form of resistance, retaliation, and activism is not to fight to be let into the club but to create our own and be recognized as legitimate. The path to making such a space has been a hard one. In The Combahee River Collective Statement, they spoke about the struggles to form a specific movement in uplifting Black women. Creating a space specifically meant for Black women and addressing the unique intersectionality of the two identities, with a multitude of others to be added, would be to address the failures of other movements. Calling out modern feminism’s and lack of inclusivity for BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people would, in some ways, insight some sort of rivalry. Which is in no way the goal. The goal is to be recognized and heard for our specific issues rather than to be ostracized for pointing them out.

However, the same can’t be said about anti-racist movements. Black women and Black men have understood the need for solidarity in social movements to a certain degree. We bond based on our race, whereas White men and White women do not, unless to recognize their privileged role in society. Although despite the camaraderie, there is still an overwhelming amount of gender discrimination within the Black community. Black men continue to invalidate the plight of Black women and contribute to their oppression when it could possibly benefit their argument, causing harm to those who have stuck beside them and supported them throughout all other movements that pertain to Black freedom. Black women have worked extremely hard, carrying the weight of many different social movements on their backs without the privilege of reaping the rewards. But no more. That is why fostering an environment for Black women’s voices to be heard and respected is so important. Fostering a community that recognizes the intersectionality of these identities and fights for their issues to be resolved is essential.

Kyla Aubertin is new to Her Camus this year; upon entering this new arena, she is excited to explore her passions through writing. Kyla is also a first-year student at NC State. Throughout high school, she developed a love for activism, sustainability, and the arts. She served on the Loudoun County Equity and Inclusivities board for two years and founded her school's first Black Student Union. Additionally, with the help of two of her classmates, she also founded The Loudoun Valley Sustainability Mission, a club aimed to educate its students on different ways in which they could help the planet. Lastly, her love for the arts manifested in creating a small business selling her handmaid jewelry, paintings, and skin care products. Born and raised in rural parts of Northern Virginia, Kyla has a deep love and affinity for nature, having been surrounded by it most of her life. After moving to Raleigh last year, she has had a lot of fun adapting to city life; she loves trying all the new restaurants and being so close to everything!! Kyla's hobbies include painting, reading, writing, dancing, listening to music, cooking, and hanging out with her siblings. She's a big music junkie; some of her favorite artists are Daniel Caesar, Frank Ocean, Lana Del Rey, Andrea Bejar, Laufey, The Neighbourhood, Leon Bridges, Montell Fish, and BTS. She also loves books, her favorites being The Handmaid's Tale, Dance of Thieves, I Fell in Love with Hope, Song of Achilles, How Dare the Sun Rise, Beloved, Poppy Wars, A Little Life, and her all-time favorite, Twilight!