Why should we be talking about decolonial feminism?
As part of our current reflections on feminist thought, some convictions are under continuous contemplation. One of them is the generalized idea that all women, as the main political actor within a specific type of feminism, have been historically grouped for their sex or gender into a category considered of lesser value than that of men. This has affected us in terms of our position within institutions, disciplines and worldviews.
Considering the complexity of the issue, decolonial feminism brings up the concept of intersectionality to denounce the racism and Eurocentrism that permeate even feminist movements. It also highlights the multiple forms of oppression suffered by those embraced by Black and brown feminisms.
Thus, decolonial feminism invites us to reflect on both the theory and the paths of action proposed by feminism keeping in mind its Western, white and middle-class biases, so that the history of fights and struggles faced by women of African descent to free themselves from the multiple oppressions they had (and still have) to endure is no longer unknown to those of us who have been educated in a Western, Eurocentric culture and who have, later on, studied feminist thought through the texts of authors from the Global North. The points of reference for each case are very different and yet the experiences of feminists from the Global South are once again erased from view.
No capitals, please: bell hooks' activism
Gloria Jean Watkins was born in 1952 and grew up in a small town in the Southern United States. She combined her mother's name with her grandmother's to create the pen name "bell hooks" which she used to sign her first poems. When she published her first book, she decided to write the full name in lowercase as a way to protest against the capitalist tradition of overvaluing people's names.
During her school years, the contents of the curricula did not include Black communities. At age 18, she was granted a scholarship to study at Stanford University, where women's activists were taking to the streets to protest gender roles. hooks immediately joined them, although the inequality endured by Black people was still not represented in those protests.
The theoretical texts already published and those that her peers were working on didn't consider Black people's voices either. As stated by journalist Luciana de Mello:
"bell hooks has said that every time she tried to bring attention in class to the fact that, due to race and racism, people's experiences were drastically different, her classmates silenced her with disdain as they believed that her criticism could dangerously destabilize the highly praised notion of sorority."
At the same time she was finishing her degree, she wrote "Ain't I a Woman?" while working as a phone operator. In the job, she found a community of working-class Black women who encouraged her to complete that text because they knew how important it was to have their experiences be represented.
All art is political: have you heard of this anti-racist arts collective?
Kukily is described by Afroféminas as an international feminist arts collective, created and directed by four women of African descent from different countries of residence, nationalities and artistic inclinations. They are based in Buenos Aires and work together through the mediums of performance, installation and audiovisual projects as well as in the creation of communal spaces to share with other artists and community members.
They are: Liberian-American dancer and performance artist Colleen Ndemeh Fitzgerald, Afro-Brazilian and Afro-Jewish Image and Sound Design student (at University of Buenos Aires) Julia Cohen Ribeiro, Colombian scenic artist Lina Lasso and Afro-Brazilian actress Jasmin Sanchez.
In their Instagram account (@kukilycolectivo), they keep records of the different performances, artistic interventions and audiovisual productions they create transnationally. Check out their page!