“Some people ask: ‘Why the word feminist? Why not just say you are a believer in human rights, or something like that?’ Because that would be dishonest. Feminism is, of course, part of human rights in general—but to choose to use the vague expression human rights is to deny the specific and particular problem of gender. It would be a way of pretending that it was not women who have, for centuries, been excluded. It would be a way of denying that the problem of gender targets women…
My own definition is a feminist is a man or a woman who says, yes, there’s a problem with gender as it is today and we must fix it, we must do better. All of us, women and men, must do better.” •
Where I grow up, there is sometimes an unspoken fear in acknowledging when we have had more opportunity or power, or when we are complicit in another’s oppression. The American man in particular—black and white alike—is forever picturing himself as self made; the liberator, the revolutionary, the hero. This is not inherently bad, but it is too often dishonest.
For all of our courage, we are too often afraid that if we acknowledge the role we play in diminishing, enslaving, or murdering any real underdog—women included—we will look at our hands and see blood. Or—perhaps harder—see someone who hustled harder than us, with more obstacles, and achieved more. And rather than take steps to mitigate the blood spilt, we retreat back to mediocrity, or our identity of being the good guy.
A responsibility for me, as a black man, is to not only learn, accept, and honor the unique struggles of the American black man, but to try to learn, accept, and honor the unique struggles of the American black woman. Then the American woman as a whole. Then every woman. Then everyone else.
It is realizing that there is more freedom, relief, and strength to be found in celebrating and uplifting the other half of us. Realizing that, like these painted walls, the world is only more beautiful when we are all seen. When we ally ourselves with those who truly need liberation and revolution. When we can look outside of ourselves—see Rey, Alana, Eleanor, Ruth, Harriet, Alexandria—and can still see heroes.