Training Notes for Fighting Misogynoir!: Centering All Black Womxn and Femmes

Facilitators: Krystal Leaphart, Shekinah Hockenhull, Venus Selenite, Emem Obot

White Caucus: Jessie Sheffield, Mia Ballard, Rebecca Mintz

NBPOC Caucus: Darakshan Raja and Dia Bui

 Additional readings:

Goals for the training:

Identifying anti-black misogynoir

  • Keeping in mind:
    • People of color doesn’t mean Black
    • People are still afraid of Blackness
    • “POC” appeals to aesthetic
    • When you don’t know what to say or what to do: do not speak for Black people
    • Black people support you only if you are given permission from Black people
    • We get comfortable with showing up, out for those with (white) privilege; you have to do more than show up. There is work to be done
    • What part of yourself do you not love that commits to systemic racism?
    • An example of trauma: someone at work saying “We need a whip-cracker” and made a noise like cracking a whip
    • The facilitators are not authorities. They are all moving forward and learning. It’s also about everyone thinking critically together
    • Idea in this space: call each other out, hold each other accountable

Jessie on Allyship

  • Theater allyship” or “ally performance”: white people trying to affirm themselves by saying “I’m not like those other white people”
  • This is a lifelong journey of unlearning our oppressive ways
  • Understand that there are things that are said that are not for us to comment on

Misogynoir: term coined by Moya Bailey, refers to misogyny towards black women and femmes

  • Looks at history of violence against BW/femme bodies
    • Rape
    • Gynecology
    • Colonization

Cisgender: gender identity and sex assigned at birth are the same

Femme:  feminine presenting/feminine energy regardless of gender

  • Femininity not limited to organs à how do you define “woman” in an inclusive way?
  • Queer inflections
    • Can be appropriated by straight women
    • We don’t apply butch to straight men, so why would we apply femme to straight women?
    • Needs to be conversation between black feminists of different genders/presentations about imposition of gender titles onto black bodies à who is defining femme? Who is defining woman?
    • Building alliances amongst types of black femininity (divine 9 vs. queen latifah)
    • Holding feminine energy as sacred

-          Unpacking misogynoir from cis gay men

  • Feeling entitled to black femme bodies
  • Attacking straight black women in queer spaces
  • It’s not taking up too much space to expect to be comfortable in your oppressed identity

-          Language = tool of oppression

  • Indigenous western cultures have 5 gender categories
  • How can you articulate yourself/feel whole within a language that doesn’t have words for who you are
  • Two-spirit
  • Orishas (Yoruba gods): anthropomorphic – gender fluid/sexuality fluid
  • Zinga: king w/ harem of men and women wives
  • In india (pre-colonization): Hindred people who were deemed neither man or woman were holy, in highest courts. British colonized and consigned them to sex work/slavery

Categories of difference:

  • Weight
  • Blind
  • Height
  • Deaf
  • Immigrant
  • Smell
  • Parents, not having parents
  • Muslim
  • Jewish
  • Poor
  • Trans
  • Age
  • Differently-abled

 Black Caucus

  • Need language to define self or else others will create definitions that aren’t adequate
  • Trying to destroy binary categories leaves us with nothing – be comfortable outside of the binary instead of seeking to end it
  • Fem/high fem feels subversive in a queer body
  • Can live in binary w/o succumbing to the restrictions of it/oppressing people
  • Is our presentation of gender encouraging misunderstanding?
    • Depends on the other persons reactions
    • Can masculinity exist in a way that’s not violent?

 

Non-Black People of Color Caucus –

What are ways that anti-Blackness shows up in NBPOC spaces?

  • Colorism: white supremacy,  Hindu supremacy (specific to South Asian context)
  • An assumption that we all have the same circumstances because the label NBPOC assumes our relationship to white supremacy is the same and with anti-Blackness.
  • Question: What brought you here to this skill share?
    • Defining misogynoir: centering Black femmes, womxn, and girls in acknowledgment of multiple oppressions. When Black men and boys are killed, there’s an outrage that isn’t there when Black womxn and girls are killed.
    • What are some ways that Black womxn are denigrated in daily life?
      • Laugh at Black  femmes
      • Mock and state that Black women are over confident and have an attitude (e.g. Female black athletes have an attitude)
        • Over confidence
        • Criticism and dissection of Black womxn’s bodies, actions, and being
        • Angry Black womxn trope that is used consistently
          • Embodied in language
          • Comments about Black womxn are demanding and have an attitude
            • Tied to white supremacy
            • Black womxn being told if they don’t fit the stereotype, then they are white
            • Sandra Bland
            • Other tropes: Welfare queens; ‘too many children; hypersexual”

What is our relationship as NBPOCs to misogynoir?

  • Appropriating Black femmes’ culture/dress
    • K-Pop (Specific to Asian culture)
    • Dress/artistic expressions
    • Hierarchies of Womanhood
      • Asian womanhood vs. against Black womxnhood
      • Asian Americans appropriating Black culture to escape model minority status
      • Hypersexualization/objectification of Black womxn
      • Colorism/white colonial standards of beauty
      • When people claim their Blackness, they are punished
      • Media portrayals of Black People
      • American colonial project – exploitation of Black women was central in the economy of the U.S.
      • Even in solidarity spaces, Black femmes are erased and the focus is on Black cismen

Examples of confronting misogynoir (responses)

  • Addressing anti-Blackness in South Asian spaces (DRUM)
  • Talking to family members about anti-Blackness
  • People are opting into Whiteness
  • Tools (anti-Blackness/Misogynoir)
    • Anti-racism materials in different languages
    • How to respectfully defer/refer to Black people in respectful ways
      • Other terms in other languages that are anti-Black
      • Addressing anti-Blackness within the larger Gay community (having that dialogue)
      • How do you address people who try to silence you by stating racism doesn’t exist/or you are a liberal?
        • How to meet people where they are at!
        • How to celebrate Black culture without appropriation
        • Ways to center Black femmes in feminist spaces
          • Using POC without having Black femmes
          • How do we hold ourselves accountable/dealing with call-outs and not performing
          • Resources for NBPOC working with orgs working with Black communities
          • How to be an ally as a NBPOC/Accountability
          • Implicit bias/more spaces for discussing issues/multiculturalism

White Caucus Breakouts

Note from Jessie: "After receiving some feedback for the white break-out groups, we wanted to provide more context. We encourage you to take the time to read the context in this document we shared during the night of the training. In addition, here are the resources we referenced during the training and the notes"

Additional readings:

  • Decoded: 3 Black Female Stereotypes that Need to Die from Franchesca "Chescaleigh" Ramsey
  • 4 Tired Tropes that Perfectly Explain what Misogynoir is -- and how You can Stop it 
  • Explanation of Misogynoir 
  • Elements of White Middle-Class Dominant Culture 
  • From White Racist to White Anti-Racist

    Stereotypical narratives we are taught about black womxn (think in opposition of what taught about white cis men):
    • Welfare queen
    • Caretaker, nanny-caring maid
    • Angry, aggressive, cold, bitchy
    • Loud
    • Hypersexual
    • Undeserving
    • Servant
    • Inarticulate
    • No autonomy
    • Sassy Black friend
    • Light is better than dark
    • Want money
    • Trashy
    • Fat/thick
    • Poor
    • Angry
    • Aggressive
    • Not delicate
    • Sassy
    • In your face
    • Loud
    • Doesn’t take shit
    • Impatient
    • Extremely dependable
    • Ghetto
    • Troublesome
    • Lazy
    • Welfare queen
    • Single mother
    • Sexual
    • Poor
    • Not delicate
    • Not intelligent
    • Used
    • Stuck
    • Jezebel
    • Mammy
    • Video ho/hypersexual
    • In charge
    • Sexy
    • Dangerous
    • Bad mother
    • Without an inner world
    • Crazy
    • Vain
    • Assertive
    • Strong
    • Religious
    • Don’t have to listen
    • Unimportant and threatening
    • Brash
    • Caretaker/domestic
    • At-risk
    • Beautiful
    • Strong/model woman
    • Resentful
    • Disruptive
    • Exotic
    • Fetishized
    • Fashionable
    • Overly conscious
    • Trouble-maker
    • Whore
    • Bitch amazon
    • Aunt Jemima
    • Nanny
    • Darkie
    • Tramp
    • Full-bodied
    • Masculine
    • Hair
    • Lesbian
    • Lots of kids
    • Can take anything and hold it all together
    • Does anti-racist work
    • Reliable/make sure things done
    • Healer
    • Awkward
    • Millennial
    • PhD
    • Student
    • Queer
    • World traveler
    • Mental illness
    • Human rights
    • Family member
    • Neighbor
    • Person
    • History and lineage
    • Individual
    • Writers
    • Educated
    • Friends
    • Children
    • Business
    • Inner world
    • Artist

Discussion on how these play into these stereotypes:

  • Sassy Black woman
  • Hypersexual Jezebel
  • Angry Black Woman
  • Strong Black Woman
  • Mammy (non-sexual worker)

 

Discussion on who is being forgotten and why and how and how would these traits be viewed in a white cis woman, in a white trans women and discussion on black womxn and femmes not being able to bring full selves.

What do these Stereotypes do (group responses):

  • Invisibilize other IDs
    • Reduce access to services/support
    • Contradict themselves -> still a weapon
    • Served a purpose -> keep power structure, status quo, white supremacy
    • Also perpetuated by “white feminist” movement
    • Seen as ‘good’ in white feminist world
    • They don’t deserve support
    • Enlist white people in holding stereotypes/power

ROLEPLAYS

HELPFUL strategies in having conversations with other white folks (from facilitators):

  • Seeing people as human, not problems to be solved
  • Starting where they are
  • Asking questions/active listening
  • Finding common ground/shared values
  • Genuine curiosity/interest in where they’re coming from
  • Acknowledging good intentions
  • Offering tools
  • THEME: presence, relationships, humanity

UNHELPFUL (from facilitators):

  • Trying to prove a point
  • Relying on abstract data
  • Generalizations
  • Goal = changing someone’s mind
  • False curiosity
  • Intellectualizing
  • THEME: head stuff focused on ourselves, one-upping, being a “good white person,” shaming

Unhelpful (from groups):

  • Defensiveness
  • Competition
  • Individualism
  • Being enlightened
  • Fear of conflict and bear wrong and anger and being ganged up on
  • Don’t talk directly
  • Wanting to please, pleasant
  • “not having authority”
  • “they have a comeback
  • Doubt – where?

Helpful (from groups):

  • Acknowledge their feelings
  • Perceptive of issue
  • Struggle of speaking/not on behalf of others
  • Listening – meeting where they are
  • Challenge and leave space for disagreement
  • Ask questions
  • Why am I doing this?
  • Keeping things concrete – no buzzwords
  • Validate feelings
  • Be okay with people getting upset
  • Vibe checker/support person in room
  • Give articles by directly impacted people
  • Define your terms – “white supremacy” =/= KKK necessarily
  • Support ppl being challenged and uncomfortable
  • Let people cry
  • “white people are super uncomfortable with being uncomfortable” -> entitled to comfort

Commitments and Take-aways:

  • Remembering to come from the heart
  • It’s hard but worth it
  • No fear of conflict - relationships!
  • Speaking up! Make less excuses
  • Challenging my inner perfectionism seeing people as humans, not problems
  • It’s ok to be wrong when I know what’s right
  • Interrogate perceptions
  • Genuine curiosity
  • Center Black womxn and femmes
  • Untangling the head and the heart
  • Challenge internal stereotypes of Black womxn
  • Interrogate ways/reasons I show up
    • Who am I doing this for?
  • Use privilege, not abuse it
  • No rants/lectures, dialogue
  • White people don’t have access to ancestors
    • Guilt/shame
    • Hold UU accountable – 24-48 hours!
    • Be more specific with languages -> Black vs. POC
    • Define my terms -> make language accessible
    • Term “misogynoir”
    • More classes on white supremacy
    • Be ok with non-closure convos – keep going with compassion
    • Be more comfortable with being uncomfortable
    • Stay out of self-righteousness
    • Meet people where they’re at but don’t water down message
    • My empowerment =/= empowerment of Black womxn and femmes
    • Rethink reliance on policing in my own community
    • We are also aggressors
    • What are we willing to give up?
    • What do we have to gain?
    • What are we missing?
    • Privilege =/= liberation
    • Meaning convos + action, internal work