Dr. Wyse Lectures on Black Feminist Thought

By Ruby Rizvi, News Editor

March 23 marked the first day of classes following Spring Break here at Armstrong. The remainder of the semester ushered in with another Women’s Empowerment Month event, an insight into “Black Feminist Thought”, led by Dr. Jennifer Wyse, from the Department of Criminal Justice, Social, and Political Science.

The goal of the lecture was to historicize and conceptualize Black Feminist thought and discuss the contemporary applications of the movement.

Black feminist thought, as we were taught through the words of author Patricia Hill Collins, is a concept produced by black women for black women, emphasizing that who they are and what they stand for as not only women, but women of color, cannot be separated into separate categories of race and gender. “Black feminist thought is a social justice movement,” Wyse said. “With learning about it comes knowledge, and knowledge is both power and empowering.”

BFT began in the 1700’s with the introduction of the Black Women’s Club Movement, which lasted until the 1900’s. The BWCM was a mutual aid society comprised of upper and middle class colored women that put the sociology of race, gender, and class into practice. They set out to try and help others understand segregation and class separation.

The creation of the BWCM sparked the interests of many other colored women across America, and soon there were so many of these clubs that the National Association of Colored Women was created.

Wyse talked about the important women during the BFT movement, including Angela Davis, Patricia Collins, and Ida B. Wells.

She also went on to introduce the idea of a womanist. Wyse explained that womanism is the idea that a woman’s problem is also a man’s problem, and that empowered change must start from home.

Wyse finished up with the contemporary appreciation of BFT, objectified through things such as the fight against environmental racism. “Environmental Racism is the idea that the ambiance of an environment, say that of a community or a neighborhood, affects not only one group of people living there, but the entire community as a whole,” Wyse stated. “It’s the women that we see out there rallying for a change.”

“It’s enlightening to see black feminist thought being discussed in academia,” junior gender studies major Aquila Campbell said. “It’s constantly being oppressed and it was a great introduction to the perspective.”

Dr. Wyse closed the lecture with a reminder that although one may not be of a certain socio-economic group, once we understand intersectionality, the idea that one kind of oppression is not independent of another, we can create empathy for them, and that is how change will come about.