02 April 2013

People's Choice Q & A: Crunk Feminist Collective

What do you do?
We are a collection of 14 feminist bloggers, many of whom were raised in the South, educated in the South and currently living in the South. We are scholars, activists, advocates, artists, writers, teachers and cultural critics who are working tirelessly to make sure there are more diverse voices in feminism and that the narratives actually speak to the many issues affecting people in their everyday lives. We advocate an ethic of care for one another and ourselves, and oftentimes we use our platform to try to be the voice that says, “You are not confused or wrong. That was discrimination you just experienced or witnessed. You have a right to be angry. Let’s talk back.”

How did you become interested in women’s rights/social justice?
While some of us were raised in households focused on social justice, there are many Crunk feminists who came to understand women’s rights through women’s studies courses and/or attending women’s institutions.

Why and when did you decide to transform your interest into action?
We decided in 2010 that blogging would give us an opportunity to shift national conversations around women-of-color feminism and also potentially provide us the resources and home base to do activist work in our local communities.

Do you think your work can help make real change in the world?
We do. In fact, we are already having an impact in our small corner of the universe. Our blog posts are being taught in college classrooms around the country. We also have a lot of readers who are not a part of the academy, and we consider that a major success. One of our goals is to make feminism accessible beyond the Ivory Tower, by speaking to issues that affect everyday people.

The Feminism 101 Workshop for Girls that we did in Atlanta was a tangible, hands-on kind of success, and that is a program that we are working to get the resources to expand and institutionalize. We were able to do our first offering in that program as the result of financial support entirely from our readers. Our Feminist Care Packages initiative, which we undertook with other online feminists groups, have been instrumental in both calling out and providing resources for the sexist behavior of rappers.

Who or what inspires you?
That list is so long, but we’ll say that feminist activists across the generations inspire us. So, Barbara Smith, Beverly Guy-Sheftall, Loretta Ross and Byllye Avery. Alexis Gumbs, Janet Mock . . .

Do you call yourself a feminist? Is the term still relevant today?
Yes, we very intentionally chose to call ourselves feminists, rather than womanists, for instance. The term feminist is connected to a long history of political struggle for rights, equality and justice. We want to be allied with that struggle. Moreover, we do not want to go around benefitting from the privileges and rights that feminists won for us, while avoiding the label and the challenges that come with it. By calling ourselves feminists, we demonstrate that people of color have a role to play in feminist work and that feminism can benefit our communities as well.

Is the history of women’s rights important to you? Do you have a favorite figure from that past?
History is very important to us. Many of our posts attempt to draw critical connections between past feminist figures and the work we are currently doing. Anna Julia Cooper and Ida B. Wells frequently show up in references on the blog. But we also love Audre Lorde and Gloria Anzaldua. This list could go on and on. 

What do you like to do when you aren’t thinking about changing the world?
We like to hang out, often with each other, when we are in the same city. We’ve got some near-gourmet chefs in the Collective. (Taste one of Crunkadelic’s Audre Lorde Have Mercy Chocolate Cupcakes, and you’ll understand.) Most of us are voracious readers, raucous dancers and can frequently be found moonlighting at a Karaoke spot.

What’s the last good book you read?
“Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America” by Melissa Harris-Perry. “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness” by Michelle Alexander. “The Summer We Got Free” by Summer McKenzie. “A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism is Not a Dirty Word” by Julie Zeilinger. “Tiny Beautiful Things” by Cheryl Strayed. “Fledgling” by Octavia Butler. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” by J.K Rowling.

What keeps you motivated to keep working for women’s rights/social justice?
The fervent and unyielding belief that another world is possible.

What world would you like to see? How long do you think it will take for us to get there?
A world in which rape is uncommon and virtually non-existent.

A place where folks can live, work and go to good schools in the safe communities of their choosing.

A world with less policing, both at the state level, but also less social policing of bodies, identities and ideologies.

A world in which women and girls can flourish in the fullness of their humanity, without having to fight, struggle and die for the right.

In short, a world where feminism is unnecessary because gender equality simply is.

When President Obama was elected, so many African-American people said, “Not in our lifetime did we think this was possible.” Clearly, we need to re-think the bounds of possibility. So, we would say that, with diligent and committed intergenerational movement work, we will see significant gains in these areas in our lifetime.

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