The Charleston Imperative: Why Feminism and Antiracism Must Be Linked

  • African American Policy Forum Temple University Press


As antiracists, we know that the struggle against racial terror is older than the Republic itself. In particular, we remember the work of Ida B. Wells, who risked everything to debunk the lies of lynchers over one hundred years ago. Today, we see that fierce determination in Bree Newsome, who scaled the thirty-foot flagpole at the South Carolina State Capitol and brought down the Confederate flag. As feminists, we recognize how racism has been—and is still—gendered. Patriarchy continues to be foundational to racial terrorism in the United States, both in specious claims that justify the torture of Black men in defense of white womanhood, and in its brutal treatment of Black women and girls. We also recognize that while patriarchy and racism are clearly intertwined, all too often our struggles against them are not.

If the reaction to the Charleston massacre is to be realized as something beyond a singular moment of redemptive mourning, then neither the intersectional dynamics of racism and patriarchy that produced this hateful crime nor the inept rhetorical politics that sustain the separation of feminism from antiracism can be allowed to continue.