by Jaqueline Sephora Andrews
What else do I have, if I don’t have my mind? Whoever controls your mind controls you. It has been a real struggle these past two days, which has confirmed my decision to focus my analyses on “Black Feminist Thought.” Some have claimed that the idea of black and white feminists came from men, whose goal was to divide women. However, it was black women who formed black feminist groups because of racism in the women’s liberation movement in the 1960’s (bell hooks, ‘Ain’t I a Woman’). It is this history that some “white feminists” continue to deny. If your movement is predominantly white, then it will in all likelihood be racist. I saw this racism yesterday, among a few radical feminists, who referred to me as a token and also talked down to me. They did not understand they were speaking from their white privilege. They also showed misogyny by assuming that a male should tell a woman what to do. I have noticed among the most extreme, they say they hate men until they want to tell other women what to do, then it is necessary to consult a man. I realized that I needed to step back and re-evaluate my analysis, which is what led me to “Black Feminist Thought.”
This is not about Black against White, as I have many friends who are “white feminists,” whom I love dearly. I also acknowledge that there are many wonderful radical feminists, but I am not going to pretend that there is not an extreme sect. I am not going to pretend that there are not women attempting to control other women, and blaming men for it. I will not take ownership of their bullying; the division among them did not come from me. The past two days has come down to one thing, people who claim to be “pro-women” being upset because I believe that women should be free to express themselves, as they choose. My advocacy is based in freedom; I believe that people should be free to be who they are, whether they are a radical feminist or a transwoman/transman. It is white privilege that leads some to believe they can control other people. There are no tokens in the movement that I am a part of. We are all valued, regardless of if you are female or male. Everyone’s thoughts are valued, whether we agree or not. Mind control is a product of this imperialistic and patriarchal society.
For true liberation, there needs to be liberation of the mind. How can you liberate your mind? First, you have to value your own thoughts and ideas. I love to read, and I am inspired by feminists, such as bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins and others, but my thoughts are still my thoughts. Don’t let anyone tell you how to think. This is why I love “Black Feminist Thought.” There is a necessity for us, black people, to be able to define who we are. This is what I want to share with others, regardless of race. I am critical of the transgender political movement because it also seeks to control people’s thoughts, but I still believe a transgender person can choose to identify how they like. It doesn’t change their biology, but their thoughts belong to them. I understand that community is important, but once they take away your ability to think, then what do you have left? I still love many radical feminists, but I won’t give them my mind.
I would also suggest you read, and read critically. No matter where or how you further your education, please, remember there is always a chance to fall into groupthink if you are not careful. Learning is your responsibility. You need to be able to understand that a book written in 1980 should be understood in the context of its time. The world is forever changing, so it is dangerous to read a book from 1980 like it was written for this time. My inspiration comes from feminists, but I still understand that 1980 is not 2015. It is still, however, important to read the writings of the past. There is a lot of wisdom in them that is necessary for today.
You can’t be free until your mind is free. Your mind will never be free, as long as you chase after purity sects. You will essentially become a slave.
How could we ever destroy the patriarchy? I refer to bell hooks, during her interview with Janet Mock, where she says that, “you are not going to destroy this imperialist, white supremacist, capitalist, patriarchy, by creating your own version of it.” How can you say that you’re for the liberation of women if you want to control women? How can you say that you want to destroy the patriarchy if you want men to control women’s speech? The patriarchy is about control; the patriarchy wants men to control women, and it also convinces women to control other women. The patriarchy will not be destroyed through patriarchal means. The patriarchy cannot be destroyed until people reject what the patriarchy is selling. The patriarchy will not be destroyed until people learn to think for themselves; it is your mind that needs to be liberated.
The patriarchy wants to control your mind. My ancestors suffered, while they dreamed about my freedom. I am not going to disrespect their memory by becoming a mental slave.