Discussion Board Week 4-5

We spent a handful of weeks centering both the concept of intersectionality as well as exploring different pathways of Black Feminist Theory and what they can offer us as activist, academics, and individuals. Respond to the following prompts referencing the texts we’ve been working with so far:

A. In “Learning from the Outsider Within”, Patricia Hill Collins offers us three key themes in Black Feminist Thought. In your own words, describe each theme and offer some explanation for each – specifically, how you understand the theme. Feel free to use examples to support your explanation.

B. Both Patricia Hill Collins and Kimberle Crenshaw emphasize the importance of approaching sociology and the legal field from an intersectional framework. How would you explain intersectionality to someone who has not heard the term before? How do you see intersectionality emerge (or not) in social justice movements and causes you are interested in/engaged with/experiencing?

C. Why do you think it is important to center Black Feminist thought and Black women’s voices as critical components to our fight for gender equity, sexual freedom, and overall liberation?

Black Feminist thought

Calling from Patricia hill Collins and Angela Davis

Standpoint theory

Where do we approach our research from?

From what perspective?

From what identities?

From what lived experience?

From what economic/cultural/political/historical context?


Free writing: Why is it important for us to ask these questions when we do research/do psychology work/do social justice work? From where do you approach your work/research? How do you bring your differing identities/experiences to the table when you’re doing your work (or how do you not)?

Black feminist thought

Produced BY and FOR Black women

Again, historically feminism has focused heavily on white women’s experiences

Think about an intro class in your field -> who are you taught?

Black women have a unique standpoint on/perspective of their own experiences

Oral history -> not published in journals or produced in a lab

Black feminist thought

3 key themes of Black Feminist Thought:

Importance of Black women’s self-definition and self-valuation


Importance of Black women’s culture

Importance of Black women’s self-definition and self-valuation

Self-definition: challenges biases/stereotypes ascribed to Black women by others

Self-valuation: replacing these external images with authentic representations

Pushing back against what stereotypes do (both ”positive” and negative)

Stereotypes create monolithic categories of ppl with no room for nuance or humanity

Pushing back allows us to acknowledge power and control -> let’s talk about #GirlBoss

Why is this important?

In defining your own experience, you reject the dehumanization that comes with external stereotypes and resist features of oppression/domination

Also how you can protect your own psyche from internalized racism/anti-Blackness


Interlocking nature of gender, race, and class oppression

Black women have a “clearer view of their own subordination than that of Black men or white women…their experience at the intersection of multiple structures of domination” (p. 19)

No illusions that whiteness or maleness will protect from oppression

Holistic view allows for a critical lens of the whole system as flawed, as opposed to a prioritizing of an “issue” over another

Remember Black women’s oppression is not Black + women + other identities = X

Allows for us to push back against dichotomous mindsets -> let’s think about the Women’s Movement

Importance of Black women’s culture

Culture is ever-changing and historically contextualized -> what can art, music, language, etc etc offer us?

“There is no monolithic Black women’s culture – rather, there are socially-constructed Black women’s cultures that collective form Black Women’s culture”

Changes how we define “activism” – what can this look like? Activism of the psyche (private, unseen)? Activism/healing with each other away from the gaze of white supremacy, patriarchy and capitalism

Everyday living as a sign of resistance

Combahee River Collective

“Identity Politics”

Oppression on the basis of identity– whether it was racial, gender, class, or sexual orientation identity – was a source of political radicalization (p.8)

Black women were ”disproportionately susceptible to the ravages of capitalism, including poverty, illness, violence, sexual assault, and inadequate healthcare and housing” (p. 8)

The personal is political

Turning personal experience into political action

Solidarity: “intended to strengthen the political commitments from other groups by getting them to recognize how the different struggles were related to each other and connected under capitalism” (p. 11)