[Photo description: Pink flower background and text reading “Feminism Series: Black Feminism & Me”]

Content Note: Internalized anti-blackness, sexual harassment


I struggle to identify with the mainstream feminist movement. The flaws in the mainstream feminist movement particularly the maintenance of White supremacy, capitalism, colonialism, imperialism and lack of diversity in leadership, transphobia, racism have put me off from the banner of mainstream feminism.

I acknowledge that there will be flaws and gaps in this essay as I am one person writing, editing, and researching the information for these works. As I am an anthropologist (in training), it’s important that I recognize my positionality in writing this piece. I write this essay from my position as a Black womxn from a low-income background with disabilities. My critique and disappointment with the feminist movement is grounded in my identity and the racism, sexism, classism, and ableism I have faced in my life. This series of essays will be grounded in contextualized historical and academic texts to support my argument that mainstream feminism is not good enough to exact meaningful, collective change.

This is little offshoot of my four part series on Feminism in the United States, if you haven’t already read part one A Brief History of First Wave Feminism  and part two Exploring Second Wave Feminism in the U.S. for some background! If you’ve enjoyed this series and appreciate the intellectual labor that went into its production, please consider supporting Noire & Co. on Patreon!


[Image description: Black and white video of Malcolm X with yellow text reading “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman.”]

The neglect, disrespect, and lack of protection for Black women has been evident in our exclusion from the feminist and racial justice movements. The American feminist movement has failed to address the intersecting oppressive systems that affect the marginalization of Black women in the United States. Solely addressing gender or racial discrimination fails to address the sexualized racism and racialized sexism that Black women face. Black women are not able to find support from White women who have perpetuated racism and devalued Black womanhood. Additionally, movements to disrupt and destroy mechanisms of Black oppression have centered the experiences of Black men at the expense of women 1Kia M. Q. Hall. “A Transnational Black Feminist Framework: Rooting in Feminist Scholarship, Framing Contemporary Black Activism.” Meridians, vol. 15, no. 1, 2016, pp. 86–105. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/10.2979/meridians.15.1.06.

Black women have always been feminists as our forced presence in this country has necessitated resistance both in public and private spaces to advocate for our humanity and right to exist.

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You walk in. It’s dark. The industrial inspired light features are dimmed to the point of absurdity. It’s the ambience you would expect in a night club, but that’s not where you are. You squint your eyes to make out the menu. It’s in a small, tight script that makes it even harder to sleuth out the prices.

“5 dollars for a 12 oz. ?!,” you grumble incredulously to yourself.

The employees eye you as you pull out your wallet. It’s filled to the brim with receipts that crumble onto the counter as you pull out your debit card. You try to awkwardly laugh off your embarrassment. They eye you up and down and go back to talking about something interesting.

As you swipe your card you finally take a look at your barista, their eyeliner is perfectly sharp, hair styled carelessly and carefully, their aesthetic reminds you of something from tumblr or instagram.

You look down at your basic t-shirt and jeans and curse yourself for not picking an outfit that better expresses how cool you are.

After paying for your drink and trying to avoid the plethora of dogs that sit by their owners feet that hope for a scrap of their owners’ flaky croissant to fall on the ground. The dog is shedding. Is it okay with the health department to even have dogs in a coffeeshop. It seems gross, but that dog is a good boi.

You pick up your drink and hesitantly take a sip. It doesn’t taste like your usual overcomplicated drink from Starbucks (you were too nervous to ask the baristas if they could take off the foam and add more pumps of syrup to your drink). It’s bitter and sad and tastes like something you would drink after you’ve given up.

Looking down at the cup with a shrug, you decide to grin and bear it. You’ve already spent 5 dollars and it’s too late know to tell cooler than you barista that maybe the locally sourced Chai tea latte tasted a little too much like leaf water for your taste. But it’s okay…right? You’re a cool, hip young professional.

So you head over to the way to small coffee bar that’s really a reclaimed, vintage wooden dresser and try to add some sweetener to your drink. Except there is none. You see a clear liquid sitting on the counter. Is it water? Is it the clear life essence of the people who were not cool enough to be in this coffeeshop. Oh no, am I the next person who turns into clear life elixir. Who adds water to a drink? Does more water make the leaf water taste better? You take the bottle and put some of the liquid on your finger. It’s simple syrup…nice.

You look around before adding the heaps of sugar water to your drink. From the corner of your eye, you can see cool guy with Benjamin Franklin glasses looking your direction. He looks unimpressed. Is it directed towards you? Either way he doesn’t look happy. You shield your chai from his line of sight, so he can’t judge you for the ridiculous amount of sugar you’re pouring into the cup. It’s already been 30 seconds of squeezing the simple syrup in the cup. You take a sip, hoping that it finally tastes better. It doesn’t. Know it tastes like sickly sweet leaf water.

You give up and head to a table. They’re all full of people typing away at their laptops, you avoid looking at any of them. Instead, you move to the closest table and pull out a chai. As you pull, the legs of the chair stratch against the aesthetially stained wooden floor loud enough to rival the explosion of the Yellowstone supervolcano. You sit down and try to unzip your backpack, but the zipper is stuck. You pull and pull and the zipper makes the loud zippy sound. It’s embarrassing. You silently berate your backpack for making a fool out of you. Doesn’t your backpack love and care about you? But then you remember how it’s a biking backpack and you haven’t ridden a bike in 10 years and maybe the backpack feels betrayed that it never gets to feel the wind in its hair and now you think “Maybe the backpack is right”. You decide to take it up with your backpack once you’re out of the coffeeshop.

You’re almost ready to start working. Chai on table, backpack in the adjacent chair, and now all you need is your planner and computer. You pull out the small pouch you keep in your backpack full to the brim with nice pens. You’re searching for your favorite pen. It’s the Pigma Micron with the .25mm tip in black. It’s the perfect $1.50 pen to write in your $25 planner. You push the calligraphy pens, glitter gel pens, mechanical drafting pencil, two swedish erasers, three different kinds of washi tape, two midliners, e one highlighter, and either different Pigma Micron pens out of the way, but you can’t find THE PEN.

You give up and decide that the Pigma Micron with the .25 mm tip in sepia will have to suffice.

You sit click-clacking away on your computer, but mostly watching Netflix. You’re in the zone. Focused. Driven. Only slightly distracted. Until,

The barista takes the aux cord and starts a playlist. It sounds good at the beginning, it has a beat that you can tap your feet to and then all of the singer starts singing in French and now someone else is mumbling on the track and then outside you see that there’s a street concert and the DJ is blasting Ludachris while making loud neon lights flash and now the coffeeshop is ruined by these two clashing aesthetics.

You leave.

You throw the $5 drink away.

You find the nearest Starbucks and buy you’re too expensive drink. Here no one can judge you. It’s a bunch of people having business meeting, other college kids working, and people sitting on their phones watching Youtube videos. You indulge in the quiet of a manufactured, maintained environment. It is a sterile aesthetic. You feel safe.

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[Image description: bright yellow flowers on a blue background with text reading: A Critique of Allyship]


Content Warning: antiblackness, racism, brief mentions of violence

I don’t think allyship exists, or if what I have seen of allyship in my life is exemplary of what it entails, I don’t think allyship means much of anything.

I’m writing this from a place of anger that’s been sitting with me for the past year. While my life has been full of racism in its varying forms, I have never felt it more present, tangible, and visceral in my life than now. This year I have encountered so many emboldened racists both in the classroom and outside of it. This year I have been called a “monkey” and a “gorilla” on two separate occasions by White men, I have seen a White man pantomime spraying a group of people of color with a hose (a la the Civil Rights Movement), been told my mother is ignorant for certain aspects of my raising, and experienced the crushing silence from other people of color and White men and women who sat idle while people have spewed vitriolic, racist beliefs.

Their silence is what has sat with me. I used to think that I could count on other people to speak up, but I have learned that no matter the instance the only person that I can count on to speak up is myself. This silence has shown me that “ally” is a term devoid of actionable meaning. It’s a word written on your Facebook timeline when an injustice happens, it’s a thing you can say to yourself to differentiate yourself from more visible oppressors, it’s an identity you can claim when you’re called out by marginalized people, but the term ally doesn’t require you to be willing to be active against systems of oppression, it just means that you are aware of them and think that they’re bad.

In this post, I seek to explain my stance that allyship is an empty term, but rather allies should seek to reconstitute their beliefs and actions to that of accomplices. I focus primarily on allyship in anti-racist work due to my proximity to the subject, but acknowledge the gaps in my research and existence of allyship politics within and amongst other marginalized groups.

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[Image description: green succulents with text and a slightly transparent white square with text  reading ” Volume One: Thesis/Essay Tips, Tricks, and Advice” in black font] Background Photo Credit: Ashley Van Dyke


Working on my senior thesis has required the acquisition of a lot of new skills that I haven’t had to empty as much during the rest of my undergraduate degree.

As someone who didn’t really learn the skills relevant to success in college in high school, through trial and error I’ve learned how to be “successful” (which is a super subjective, relative term) academically. A large part of my thesis in anthropology is requiring me to basically learn how to “do” anthropology independently.

I have found in my experience that the capitalist, competitive, individualistic values of Western society discourage collaboration and knowledge sharing as if you share something that’s helped you improve, you risk that they will compete with you and limit your opportunities. I have this feeling in my mind a lot. However, as I read more literature I am learning that an aspect of my Black feminist work means that I need to unlearn divisive, competitive practices in favor of those that encourage sharing, exchanging, and building upon other’s knowledge.

So, here is everything I’ve learned so far working on my thesis.

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[Image description: Bright yellow sunflowers]

Authors note: I was planning to do a post about being generous (with yourself and with others) this week, but I wasn’t feeling the most generous myself. It’s been a really rough week of dealing with racial macroaggressions and I just wasn’t in the mood to talk about being generous with other people, when I feel so hurt/sad/disappointed/etc. Instead, I am sharing a poem I wrote a few weeks ago related to the topic. I hope you enjoy.

[Image description: Bright yellow sunflowers and purple globe thistle]

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