Opinion: The New ‘Black Feminist’

March 1, 2011  |  

Call it the great-grandchild of feminism and womanism, Black Woman’s Empowerment (BWE for short) is a natural outgrowth of ideals brought forth by bell hooks Aren’t I a Woman,” Paula Giddings’ When and Where I Enter,” and Jacqueline Jones’ “Labor of Love” among many others.  It’s filling the gap between how race and gender issues impact black women, tossed in with some “we’re mad as hell and we’re not taking it anymore!” and a dab of interracial dating advocacy.  Add the virulence of blogging, Twitter and You Tube, and you have an honest-to-goodness groundswell of activism that goes out of the classroom and becomes accessible to everyone.

But these loose confederations of bloggers are going beyond just being angry about the lack of available and marriageable black men and the propensity for them not to marry the mothers of their children, or feeling salty about how black women are seen in the media as Mammy/Jezebel/Bitter Beyotch (a la Pepsi Superbowl commercial) or being subjugated as mules. “BWE,” I believe is the next paradigmatic shift from recognizing and discussing the issues to actively changing, engaging and moving black women further into better lives,” says one blog commentator that goes by the name, ‘Monique.’

Instead of heading to the streets, fists pumping and bras burning, the protests have transitioned to the written word.  They are quietly, and without much fanfare, dismantling traditional notions and freely giving advice to black women about how to live better and happier, blog by blog, tweet by tweet.

“Whenever you get a room full of black women, you automatically fuel discussions on the issues that affect us most. Social media is like that room.  We’ve truly gotten the opportunity to hear each other, speak to each other, and work toward solving our issues,” says writer and film maker, Arielle Loren.

One of those “issues” primarily has to do with the dissatisfaction and hurt some black women feel from black men whom they say do little to protect and provide for them, while at the same time exploiting their resources and support without getting much in return.  “Black men act as free agents in the presence of opportunity, not as people who place race concerns and race priorities in the forefront of their thoughts,” says an an online fact sheet describing BWE in detail.

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  • ChrisD

    The feminist movement has given itself a bad name. It needs no help. However, I agree that their issue is not compatible with the feminism movement, which does not in reality seek equality – which (circling back to the beginning of my statement) is one reason why the feminist movement acquired and maintains its bad name.

  • Tim Thomas`

    This reading is very interesting…….

    1) If black men had to compete for black women…..?

    We do compete with every baller, hustler, bouncer who can get you in the club or VIP for free; every thug with a pocket full of money or that new big body BMW; that athlete who wants to fly you to some nice location for a weekend session (I mean getwaway).

    Every black man knows that in order to obtain a beautiful black woman, you have to be someone with money, swagger and status (ie. I can’t stand in line at the club).

    The women we are talking about here are the middle of the road women( 1-7 on the scales of 1-10…..) These are the women who educate themselves and find it hard to find a mate because to be quite frank, they have no idea of how to attract or keep a man. So they end up with who the end up with and they are tired of it. They weren’t taught how becaue their mothers weren’t good at it either; if they could have done it all over they would have. So other things are promoted (and they are important) self worth, education, independence and feminism (be strong ladies).

    2) Not enough quality black men….?

    There are not. only 50% of our black boys graduate from High School. That leave half with maybe the basic skills needed for the rest of their lives. If 72% of them are rasied by a single parent (probably Mom), what does that young man know about how to treat a woman.

    BLACK WOMEN…….you have become your own worst enemy, you have taught our young black men that women don’t need men (these young boys have seen your failed relationships first hand……they don’t respect you from a young age). That carries over to adulthood.

    3) Outstanding Black Men……?

    There are a few of us. We are wanted by all races……believe it. The males of other races teach there women not like us……..DOESN”T work. We travel the world now…..see different things and come home to well lwt’s just say it’s time to upgrade the software ladies.

    4) Some advice….?

    Love who loves you. Decide what you want and what you bring to the table. Don’t settle.

    Decipher between lust and love. It feels good, but it’s not what I want long term. Have a plan if you get pregnant. IT”S TIME TO MAKE REAL WORLD DECISIONS….Most successful men don’t want you if you have some idiots kids.

    Stop wasting your twenties……you won’t look like that forever.

    MOST IMPORTANT…Incoporate healthy living into your lifestyle (WORK OUT BEFORE YOU GET FAT, eat healthy, make friends outside your race, don’t just be friends with someone because they have the same problems as you, that is PATHETIC!

    *excuse any typos

  • BeMae

    I think what we have here is not only a desire to separate ourselves from black male ideologies, which compromises black feminity at every turn, but the disturbing behaviors of the women that support them as well.

    When I think of what it means to be a black women in the 21st century in the US I'm constantly reminded by my so-called Bruthas that they are my only option and my submission is not only requested but demanded. This also means I have to relinquish control of my body, forfeit my resources, and my time to support black men, and to focus on my own needs and issues is wrong or supports "da white man".

    I'm a woman which means I concern myself with maintaining a happy, healthy, and productive household. Doesn't matter if it's just me or 10 people in it, that is what I do.

    I am not supposed to be in running around in the streets helping black men fight anything-that is against my nature as a woman.

    • trish

      Well said.

  • Pam in FL

    “Affirmative Action Dating” – that’s just about it, too. This would be funny if it weren’t true…

  • sela

    This is so wonderful. Black women, we're finally waking up.

    • CaribbeanGlow

      Five years later, led to this page… Waking up!


    I guess Only certain types of Black women are welcomed here. I go somewhere else to find TRUE BWE.

    • What do you mean Linda? Splain yourself.

      HERE is the start the birth of a new community you should get on board.

  • gayle

    Links to new black feminism sites:


    http://www.dateawhiteguy.blogspot.com http://www.actsoffaithblog.com

  • gayle

    Links to new black feminism sites:


  • gayle

    Links to new black feminism websites:


  • BWE is in part about black women putting their needs FIRST. As opposed to putting the needs of others and of “the community” first without any benefit of reciprocity.

    • @Zabeth, My thoughts exactly!!

    • QueenofNewcastle

      Uh many black women have children and in that case they need to put the needs of their children first and foremost. Black women solely decided to have them so take care of them. This means black children will no longer be neglected, abused and abandoned to older parents to be cared for…or in the trunks of cars.

      • Peterina Pan

        One person can not solely decide to have a child and thus TWO people (who are biologically needed to make a child) should take care of them. Let's not act like Black women are neglecting abusing or abandoning kids are rates higher than any othe racial group. But black men are.

  • Linda

    So the new Black Feminist is to become distance from Black men? Or is it to open up to dating IR. ??

    • Annie

      The new Black Feminist is about recognizing her beauty and worth and only allowing worthy men into her life, no matter what their color.

    • LMH

      New Black Feminist is about freedom of choice AND doing what is best for yourself as a woman.

  • "One such male blogger calls virtually all highly-trafficed bloggers of the BWE movement “sellout black women” who worship and seek the validation of white men, and believes that most black women are wholly undesirable by any race, including black men."

    I honestly do NOT want black men to find me attractive, which is why I stopped straightening (for those who don’t know, black men are most resistant of darker toned black women with natural hair), the amount of street harassment went down by 40%. This is more about demoralizing black women so that they may be considered victims. They fail to see that normal men don’t view women as their competition, so instead of changing that, they promote their agenda that we aren’t women like other women. It’s the adult version of the 5th grade mantra “I’m rubber you’re glue”. I signed no “skin color contract” from birth that I deserve to live in crime or listen to degrading hate speech tossed my way when I walk down a street where black men frequently stand all day instead of working. I’m glad that more black women are asserting their BASIC rights to safety, to be loved, to pursue academic interests; in short, I’m glad we’re allowed to tell our stories. That’s partially why BWE is so popular online, black women still aren’t safe from ridicule and danger telling our VERY real experiences in public.

    • Preach!
      I co-sign! Best to you!!

    • Linda

      That's a big lie most Darkskinn women have Black men.

  • NYCLisa

    Cherilyn Smith, author of “Black Women Deserve Better” and operator of a blog with the same name is right.

    If black men had to compete with other races of men for desirable black women, black men would lose, over and over. Yes, I know there are some "good black men", but I'm talking about the average black man.

    Right now, the dating situation between MOST black women and black men is a lot like the exam for the post office, where veterans of the Armed Services get an automatic 10-point "bonus" on the 100-point exam. It makes a big difference in who gets hired at the post office. MOST black women give every black man a 90-point bonus right off the bat over any other race man. Without that huge built-in advantage, black men would be hard-pressed to compete in terms of other dating/mating competitiors.

    And who is to blame for perpetuating this ridiculous "affirmative-action" dating situation? We are, as black women. We are the ones that keep giving these low-value dating candidates preferential treatment in the dating pool.

    • LMH

      You are absolutely right! If black women started using comman sense and evaluating (vetting) ALL men on basic criteria there wouldn't even be a discussion about interacial dating it would just be a given and many black men would have to get out and get their act together. Why wouldn't an educated, successful, fun (insert qualities here) woman expect the same from a potential date/mate? Black

    • Sanleen

      "Affirmative Action Dating" – OMG, this is so true. A fair appraisal dooms most of the brotherz…

      Preach, sista, I hear you talkin' and signifyin'. You nailed it EXACTLY.

      • QueenofNewcastle

        Yes and what these women are talking about in the BWE movement is nothing more than an Inter racial dating pyramid scheme. A few women at the top showing the masses of black women that, you can have it just like me. Just buy my books, donate to my paypal account, and pay to listen to my live stream.

        • LMH

          BS! Many of the blogs that are mentioned are free. There are a few that are private and most screen comments, mostly to keep readers from having to deal with idiots like you.

    • QueenofNewastle

      SO basically if black men had to compete with other men for black women they would lose like black women lose when having to compete with other women. Good to know.

    • sela

      Good Point Luna.
      Why should they care if we date other men. The more these people talk the more they make the case for Black Women Empowerment

    • LMH

      I co-sign 125%! In fact if black women are such a burden black men should be rejoicing that someone (hell anyone) is willing to take us off their hands!!!

    • ChrisD

      There's nothing wrong with black women having a preference for black men or vice-versa. On the other hand, I appreciate when I see black women being appreciated by men of other races. Black wome are undervalued, in my opinion. I have two daughters and would, frankly, prefer that they marry a good-souled black man like their dad. However, if they choose otherwise, that's fine – as long as he loves them like I do.

  • LorMarie

    great article! BWE for me provides an alternative to both feminism and womanism. I love it because even women who identify as Christians with traditional values have a place in BWE.

    • QueenofNewcastle

      Wait, what is your moniker on that white supremacist website you visit? You announced that you just gave birth to a half white child with a high IQ white father and they called you an Honorary Aryan, right? This movement is about a little more than black women's empowerment.

      • LorMarie

        Yes it IS my blog linked there! If you look again, it is in the section as opposition along with a Jewish, Arab, and another blog by a black man. Are you the one who claims to be so problack but could not find it in your heart to marry a black man? If you are the same woman then your living BWE sweetie.