Marquis Bey describes Black Feminist Thought as being the “most self-critical movement”, yet somehow he feels the right to critique us more. Personally, I have a bit of a Black Feminist Ego. I feel like Black women have endured enough and that we do not have an obligation to anyone but ourselves. While I don’t believe most Black women would disagree with any of the arguments raised by Bey, I still think that Bey needs to mind his business and focus on critiquing someone else’s community. If the movement of Black Feminist Thought is so self-critical, why can’t our allies trust us to modify on our own? In Bey’s article, he outlines why Black trans women should be recognized as more fundamental agents in the creation of Black Feminist Thought. He believes Black women to be inherently self-critical, which is true. Black women have lived marginalization to the point that we see beyond the man-made lines of hierarchies. We typically will see inequality before the rest of the world, and seek to combat it with whatever is in our control. Where Bey and I digress, is that BFT is a lifestyle, it can only be breathed not taught. To create colonial ways of learning BFT, critiquing it by colonial means, and watering it down to be some new inclusionary safe space is not exercising Black Feminist Thought.
Now what Bey said exactly was, “Thus, if BFT is to be truly the ‘most self-critical’ among all movements of social justice, and if it is to continue to question its grounds of inclusion and transformation, it must undergo critique leveled by trans feminism.” My issue with this line, most of all, is the word “MUST”. In my mother’s words, “all I have to do is be Black and die.” I choose to be compassionate towards other marginalized groups, but I do not have to. The wording of this line by Bey is entitled, it is more expectations of the women that have already been sucked dry by society’s standards. I feel that Marquis Bey wasted time and money writing this article to the Black Feminist Thought movement when there are bigger problems in the world that Black women are focused on solving. In my opinion, most Black women in the real world haven’t even realized there is a Black Feminist Thought movement. Their activism is lived and breathed in their everyday politics of existing with the obstacles presented to them. For Marquis Bey to write this entire article critiquing a movement not even formally recognized by Black women in a contribution to colonialism that burdens us already.
It is clear Bey is on the wrong track from the beginning because he spent the first three pages of his article praising Black women just like Twitter does.
Of course, he had good intentions in thinking of the many women that contributed to his life, but he fed into the very notions that stop Black women from being queens. Queens rule, but how can we rule when we did not create the concrete thing that he wishes to critique? In his article, Bey reinforced the idea that BFT is some concrete school subject. The movement existed and was legitimized, and Bey was writing based on that conclusion. He decided that the movement had already excluded trans women and that the women of the movement deserved critique in a white ass journal. In reality, Black Feminist Thought is not some concrete school subject that has an annual curriculum. It is the aggregate of Black women that live and breathe truth.
Therefore, I am writing this article to critique one who critiqued me. Marquis Bey, you should focus on how exactly you bring honor to Black Queens before you decide to tell us how to be. Bring us honor in giving us the space to define our own movement. Advocate for us to have more of a voice in this academic space. Serve as our protector so that we may rule over our own thoughts and continue to use them to make Black communities stronger overall. Leave us alone so that we may self-critique.
The ability to self-critique is a massive part of what draws so many people to want to study and praise Black women. Because we have lived a completely opposing existence to what is considered status quo, we never seek to make others feel like we have. Therefore, whenever new ideas are presented, Black women lead with compassion and empathy. There is no cookie-cutter way that every Black woman will respond or what opinions they may have, but the presence of a self-critical mechanism in our heads is part of what brings us so much attention. Beyoncé, for example, has made a career of singing her reflections as she faces infidelity in her marriage or watches the immense destruction of the Black community. She is revered as the queen for a reason and has only reached her level of fame with the millions of LGBTQ supporters that she has. Beyoncé simply made music that was true to her, not made for a movement. Black women contribute to a movement towards change because their bodies are anti-colonial and constantly oppose society. Allowing us to change naturally, will only have positive outcomes for everyone because our existence fights for all of those identities in between us and white men.
I urge allies of Black women to allow them to fabricate their own narrative in regard to their movement. This movement is ongoing, constantly evolving, and intangible. It is not just one thing. If we begin to colonize Black female thought, it will only place more of a burden on Black women to legitimize and explain what has been working in practice for quite some time. In old economic classes, I remember learning that if something works in theory it works in practice. On the contrary, in community building, I have learned that a lot of what works in practice works in theory. Black women have been strong queens before it was trending. If you try to colonize the means by which we rule, you can no longer consider yourself an ally. If you consider us to be queens and yourself to be an ally, allow us to rule and trust us to rule.
In the end, this can all be a storybook ending. Our current land is one of structure built around white male ideologies. It has become tyrannical and has oppressed all of those outside of the margins of society’s rules. The queen must raise her army and fight the tyranny that has taken over her land. The queen cannot fight within the guidelines of the current government, but she must take the advice of the queens that ruled before her. To all of the allies of this Black Feminist Thought movement, I urge you to take up arms and fight on behalf of the queen. Do not question how she rules, because she knows more than you. You have trusted her mother and her grandmother to rule, so why doubt her now? She promises this land prosperity for all and will rule with grace and compassion.
To read more about how Black women take on a double burden in being praised as leaders of the movement look here: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_the_strong_black_woman_identity_both_helps_and_hurts