When Beyoncé released the song "Flawless" and I heard Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's speech roaring over the airwaves, that's when I knew I truly identified as feminist. It made me happy to see a woman, especially a woman of color, speak to everything I've been feeling throughout my entire life. Growing up, I realized that women don't have a lot of the same opportunities to be heard. It doesn't help that some of us are even silenced and ostracized in the confines of mainstream feminism. I say this because I have been that girl who felt as if feminism didn't offer me a shoulder to cry on when it came to me being a black young woman. My issues and my rights seemed second priority. I hated this, and for some time, I started to resent identifying as a feminist altogether. Until I found a new term to identify with -- perhaps I was a black feminist. Basically, I stood for everything that wasn't mainstream.
After witnessing the "alleged" feud between Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj (both of these women I adore) and the conversations it sparked, I felt the need to verbalize some of my own concerns about feminism; one of them being women shading each other in the name of feminism. My black feminist self vowed to call out those females who refer to themselves as feminists, but choose to ignore the plight of all women. Women are facing more social injustices than just body-shaming. We are enduring police brutality, cultural appropriation and slut shaming. So, in all this, where is the feminist flag for the LGBTQ community and the people of color? Where is the feminist flag for the folks who don't typically fit into the white Hollywood cookie cutter category? Ladies, the last thing we should be doing is telling folks they are not cut out for feminism. We should be telling people to rally against social inequality. Feminism isn't something you stand by when it benefits you. It's for everyone, regardless if you are a second wave or bell hooks feminist. The true question is: Who is going to protest for the invisible? Is it going to be you?
I do advocate for the sisterhood of other women all around the world. I'm a feminist who believes that women deserve the same political, economic, cultural, personal and social rights as their other gender counterparts. Women not only deserve them, but we should be vocal on receiving those specific rights. Whoever decides to be a part of that campaign is welcome. There should be no racial, gender or class qualification on who gets to advocate for the cause -- because contrary to popular belief, everyone needs feminism for this world to keep evolving. In other words, we as women have to start uplifting, encouraging and actually liking one another. It's time out for the "I don't like her," or "She wants my man," stuff. Honestly, we shouldn't be competing for the attention of men. We should realize we are worthy of being all that we aspire to be: beautiful, educated, businesswomen, mothers, political figures, etc. The sky is the limit for us.
And with that said, I think every person has the right to have differing views on what feminism is since every feminist is not the same. There's no box every feminist checks off, as we are not one demographic. Feminists are indeed human beings who can be contradictory, crazy and severely flawed. But, that's the version of feminism I fell in love with. My feminist is no-holds-barred, confident, a-bit-awkward. Yours might be amazing, gorgeous, glamazon, positive cheerleader. It's all beautiful and unique. I hope this article doesn't fall on deaf ears. I hope you take these words and make them a daily mantra; something you take into account the next time you stand for the body shaming of your favorite celebrity, but not for the women suffering at the hands of the police. For the sake of a 17-year-old girl's soul, let's make feminism a team effort.