Celebrating Black Women this International Women’s Day 2022 #BreaktheBias

Guest blog from Regional Convenor and Black Members Committee Chair Rosita Ellis for International Women’s Day 2022

International Women’s Day 2022’s campaign theme is #BreakTheBias. Black women exist at the intersection of racism and misogyny, we are marginalised and discriminated against for being Black and being women – we live in both identities at all times.

In seeking gender equality, the mainstream women’s movement lacks real inclusion in celebrating Black women’s achievements and raising issues that affect our intersecting identities, not because of our lack of participation in eradicating gender oppression. But the result of anti-Blackness, lack of real allyship and solidarity. Black women’s unique challenges are generally ignored or not raised at all.

The European and American mainstream feminist movement for a long time excluded Black women from its history and its celebration of women’s achievements. International Women’s Day, too, has historically left out Black women.

This exclusion and erasure, however, have not dissuaded Black women from fighting for their rights. In fact, they have not only shown up for themselves, but for everyone else. Black feminism was and continues to be grounded in building solidarity across racial, class, and gender lines.

Black transgender women are also facing horrific levels of racism and violence. As the Human Rights Campaign has noted, transgender women of colour in the US face misgendering, discrimination and deadly violence, with Black transgender women representing the majority of violent deaths among transgender or gender non-conforming people. In June 2020, amid the George Floyd protests, two Black transwomen, Dominique Fells and Riah Milton, were killed in the same week. In February 2021, Alexus Jordan, a Black transgender woman from Miami was also murdered in a “vicious and violent attack”.

Black women and Black transgender women are now at the forefront of various working-class, feminist, and anti-racist initiatives and movements. Black Lives Matter, a formidable movement founded by three Black women – Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi – has reshaped the conversation about racial justice and equity world wide.

Black feminist history matters and it is time the achievements of Black women around the world are acknowledged and celebrated. The foremothers of International Women’s Day may have excluded Black women, but their successors have the opportunity to correct this wrong by embracing the commitment to upend gender and racial oppression as an integral part of the mainstream feminist movement.