This year’s theme for International Women’s Day is ‘Choose to Challenge’ and Black women have always chosen to shake things up when conformity was not an option.
“A challenged world is an alert world and from challenge comes change.” (International Women’s Day, 2021)
In 1913, the first observance of Women’s Day to be celebrated on March 8th was commenced with it later being recognized as International Women’s Day in 1975. International Women’s Day is a foundational reminder of the collective fortitude and excellence possessed by all women, no matter where they come from, how they show up in the world or how they identify. Though this annual holiday prioritizes inclusion, solidarity and seeks to highlight gendered discrimination across many fronts, Black women are, and have always been, hyper-aware of the significant variance in proximity to privilege and access that has been historically stripped from us to express the fullest extent of agency over our bodies, careers, innovations, passions and ultimately our respective lives.
In spite of this, we have continuously drawn inspiration from women like Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, Audre Lorde and Mae Jemison, to name a few, who dared to choose to challenge society and the world because they knew that their eminent survival was dependent upon discovering and sculpting a world with infinite possibilities outside of the barriers constructed to limit their wondrous existences.
There is so much we can learn from Black women but we must simultaneously make the conscious decision to also honor Black women by doing the necessary work to respect the generational lived experiences that allow them to confront life with a triple consciousness comprised of the ability to witness gender, sexuality and race through a multifaceted lens. We must also seek to displace the burden of expectation to show up phenomenally without allowing them the space to explore themselves as whole, polylithic beings (because we all know that if it’s one thing that Black women are always going to do, it’s show up and show out, regardless.)
This International Women’s Day, let’s put ourselves onto some game-- here are some visual and written texts to indulge in today and throughout Women’s History Month to further conceptualize the pivot of intersectional struggle imposed upon Black women and how we can move from sheer acknowledgement to action.
Ar’n’t I A Woman by Sojourner Truth
Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
Black Sexual Politics by Patricia Hill Collins
Wish To Live: The Hip Hop Feminism Pedagogy Reader Edited by Ruth Nicole Brown & Chamara Jewel Kwakye
The Urgency of Intersectionality by Kimberlé Crenshaw
Black Girl Dangerous: On Race, Queerness, Class and Gender by Mia Mckenzie
HBO’s Lovecraft Country: Episode 7 “I Am.”
Challenge yourself to seek understanding and accept that we have such a long way to go in order to ensure that all women have the continued bravery and ability to show up as their most authentic and true selves.