Black Feminist Think Tank
Along with Erica Edwards, I direct the Black Feminist Think Tank, a collaborative project that is generating new black feminist scholarship and activism. From March 20-21, 2015, hundreds gathered at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor to examine black feminism as an intellectual and political practice and to chart a way forward. We assembled as the Black Feminist Think Tank with the express purpose of examining how black feminism and women of color feminism have deepened our understanding of the multiple systems of stratification in the United States and abroad. Using the social media hashtag #BlackFeminismIs, we sought to emphasize black feminism as a living, dynamic force for social change, political involvement, and intellectual labor. Our common starting point for both scholarship and political activism is an intersectional approach to examining and confronting systems of oppression. Intersectional approaches are even more critical to our endeavors in light of the multiple and simultaneous challenges we face today: the militarization and privatization of all aspects of daily life; escalating violence against people of color around the world; the expansion of settler colonial borders at the expense of indigenous and colonized peoples; and the contraction of academic freedoms in our colleges and universities. The Black Feminist Think Tank has plans to collaborate on a book project and future gatherings, which we hope will provide opportunities for us, and many more, to continue our mischief together.
Our work was featured on Jadaliyya.
“The Metalanguage of Race: A Commemoration" Signs Symposium Spring 2017 (vol. 42, no. 3)
I am the editor of a special Signs roundtable discussion revisiting Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham’s groundbreaking Signs article “African-American Women’s History and the Metalanguage of Race” (Winter 1992). Higginbotham critiques various feminist theorists for ignoring issues of race in their studies of gender and power and discusses how their narrowness is particularly vexing given the centrality of race in African American scholarship and because racism continues to grow with “verve and subtly.” Higginbotham asks feminist scholars to accept the challenge of bringing “race more prominently into their analysis of power” and to see race as a “global sign” or a “metalanguage” that “speaks about and lends meaning to a host of terms and expressions and to myriad aspect of life that would otherwise fall outside the referential domain of race.”
Twenty-five years later, scholars such as LaMonda Horton-Stallings, Robin Kelley, Dayo Gore, Marlon Bailey and Tamar Carroll examined the impact of Higginbotham’s article on African American women’s and feminist scholarship.
In addition, we will hold two public roundtables to coincide with the publication of our essays in Signs. Please join us at the Berkshire Conference on June 3, 2017 and at Harvard University on November 7, 2017.