Musing on Harry Allen, Black Nationalism and Black Feminism

Barkley L. Hendricks Sweet Thang (Lynn Jenkins)

Yesterday,? I had a conversation on Twitter with @harryallen,
about Black nationalism and Black and White feminism,

It all started when I tweeted:

If White feminist examined the ways in which they were dominated by white men more closely, they would have more solidarity w/ Black feminist.

Harry responded saying:

Not a chance. Black feminists underestimate the strength of the relationships between white people, and, thus, overestimate……the value of what white females get from Black females. They do derive benefits, but compared to what they get from white…

He still disagreed with me and contended that: The definition makes clear what I said: You can’t prove “feminisim” exists from it. All the things it seeks to do are undone.

Apparently, Harry’s understanding of a social movement means that a social movement ONLY exists to the extent that it accomplished what it set out to do. Which is an interesting read of both social movements and history as they tend to not be this linear at all. Peep the Haitian Revolution, the French Revolution, Womens Suffrage in the US, US slavery abolition, the American Revolution, etc.

I then responded by giving Harry the link to my post “Black Feminism Crib Sheet{101}.”

I didn’t share this with him yesterday, but as I thought it I realized that? my thinking around Black men, White women and Black feminism is rooted in the Combahee Collective, whose statement says:

Black feminist politics also have an obvious connection to movements for Black liberation, particularly those of the 1960s and I970s. Many of us were active in those movements (Civil Rights, Black nationalism, the Black Panthers), and all of our lives Were greatly affected and changed by their ideologies, their goals, and the tactics used to achieve their goals. It was our experience and disillusionment within these liberation movements, as well as experience on the periphery of the white male left, that led to the need to develop a politics that was anti-racist, unlike those of white women, and anti-sexist, unlike those of Black and white men.

Earlier yesterday, I asked him if he thought he needed to prove that the Black Nationalist movement existed. He said no, because it doesn’t come out of white supremacy.

So Feminism comes out of white supremacy and it doesn’t exist because it didn’t set out to accomplish its goal?

This is absurd, as it leads to the logical conclusion that the work of Soujourner Truth, Ella Baker, Ida B. Wells, Ann Julia Cooper, Mary Church Terell, Paula Giddings, Darlene Clark Hine, Barbara Christian, Beverly Guy Sheftall, Marian Wright Edelman, Hortense Spillers and thousands of others was and is rooted in white supremacy.

The work of all these Black women is rooted in the Liberation of Black women, men and children.

Full stop.

Which leads me to the questions:

What is Black Nationalism?

Has it accomplished it’s goals? And if it hasn’t is it still a movement?

Harry and I have had conversations before about gender and race.

The last one stemmed from me tweeting that “Race is no longer useful as the primary category for organizing.”

We disagreed on that as well.

I understand that I can center women, food/social justice or gender as a unit of analysis because I am being trained to. I see engaging with him and writing blog posts like this as an opportunity to share what I have learned.

According to bell hooks patriarchy is? another way of saying institutionalized sexism.

I wonder if patriarchy prevents Black Nationalists from centering? not only race, but gender and capitalism as a unit of analysis.

I was reminded of the ways in which patriarchy be ALL UP THROUGH my life. A couple of weeks ago gentleman friend, insisted on walking on the outside near the curb. I understand. It’s his Brooklyn steez. But that shit was absurd to me, so I called it patriarchal. His response to it was that I was calling HIM patriarchal, and felt like I, like many Black feminists was alienating an ally. For him patriarchy became a four letter word. OUCH.

I asked him what he sought to accomplish by walking on the outside? That if a car jumped the curb, his body was going to stop ME from being pummeled as well? He answered yes. But I knew he couldn’t be invested in that answer. He is way to brilliant and loving for that.

Love listen, it was hard to stand up to me to stand up to him. Here I am decked out, we are eating cheese eggs,? and he reaching over kissing my hand, IN THE RESTAURANT.#ummp.

Who wants to challenge the person who drops that kind of attention on them? But I did, and we had beef.? *Big beef.

I Love Black men.

However, my Love for them does not include consent to be dominated by them sexually, spiritually, verbally, violently or any other way.

This means that statements such as “feminism” doesn’t exist because it did not do what it seeked to do must be dealt with head up. A literal binary read of social movement histories erases the work of all the women and men who allow me to have the life that I have today.

But for them, I would be picking cotton, rather than writing blog posts, or telling people that they have the right to be who they are.? Nor would I be challenging awesome Black men (and women) on how Patriarchy ain’t they friend.

*Beef was cleared up, but daggumit if that wasn’t hard.

Black feminism null and void?

What do you do when patriarchy shows up on dates?

Did you find this post useful, if so how?

If you are interested in learning more about Black women, White women and Feminism, Social Movements:

All the Blacks Were Men, All the Women Where White, But Some of Us Were Brave
Still Brave
Rules for Radicals
When and Where I Enter
Ain’t I a Woman
Local Black Freedom Movements in America
Sisters in Struggle, African American Women in the Civil Rights Black Power Movement
Want to Start a Revolution: Radical Black women in the Freedom Struggle

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  1. says

    Whew. I was reading this and nodding in agreement every step of the way. I’ll come back with a more substantive response but as of now my head is swimming thanks to some cold medicine. But I am SO feeling every word you wrote.

  2. says

    “I Love Black men. However, my Love for them does not include consent to be dominated by them sexually, spiritually, verbally, violently or any other way.”

    THIS statement is that hype M Dot! Let me tell you about a recent office experience. There is this vegan organic cotton dude that works in an adjacent office. He came by to ask me a question, stepped behind my desk, picked up a bottle of moisturizer I had on my desk, and began to read its ingredients. Hell No. I told that negro, you DON’T invade my personal space, touch my personal things, and draw conclusions about me by reading the labels of the products I use. YOU DO NOT OWN ME. It was a bit much, maybe, but he got the point.

    Two failed marriages have made me a crazy watchdog for this type of behavior. Patriarchy excludes limits and I have mine in place. I don’t take kindly to that behavior and I damn near got into fighting stance.

    Anyway, my point is that these theories and social constructs that we study are recreated in the very nuances that make up our lives. PLEASE keep teaching and spiting on gender. The game needs you.

  3. admin says

    Girrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl. Imma let you finish.
    Yes it was a bit extra, but sometimes we let mad ish slide then it FINALLLY come out sideways. 🙁

    The game needs moi? Well thank you. What an awesome and kind thing to say.

  4. RalphKenolEsq says

    If you stop the gentleman from attempting to walk on the outside in an effort to communicate his willingness to protect you because you feel it reinforces patriarchy, how can you then support an argument decrying the black male abandonment of women and children? Doesn’t the decoupling of black male commitment to women and children in a proprietary way, ie “i must protect my wife and my family” result in the current condition? If I don’t need to walk on the outside do I really need to come and pick you up? Isn’t making sure you get home reinforcing my patriarchal control over you? Isn’t the willingness on the part of some man to engage in relationships with multiple women without even the slightest bit of a suggestion of commitment and acknowledgment of the liberation of women? Are women happy with this new paradigm?

    Consider this: When men stop opening doors and walking on the outside of the sidewalk, they also seem to stop committing. The reduction in the social pressure to commit is strangely not a burning issue of discussion among most men.

  5. says

    RE: your date

    I agree with Ralph, that was his momma raising him right, not him exerting dominance over you. You might not wanna give an inch on some things but if you want a meaningful intimate relationship you’re going to have to compromise at times.

    you can teach lessons and explain why he shouldn’t do things because of imperial conditioning (or w/e), but you need to choose WHEN/HOW you do that better. If you snapped at me for walking on the curb side of the street I would prolly start being distant. its just something men are raised to do because we’re protectors.
    love the read, i think y’all trippin’ tho. hah

  6. says

    If you stop the gentleman from attempting to walk on the outside in an effort to communicate his willingness to protect you because you feel it reinforces patriarchy, how can you then support an argument decrying the black male abandonment of women and children
    Hey Ralph.
    Thank you for commenting. I don’t do the “Black Abandonment” narrative. Some negros leave they kids, other negros take care of other peoples kids. We have been doing it for 300 years. For me the issue isn’t abandonment per se, but the fact that Black women and men work REALLY fucking hard in service jobs that don’t pay well. A country with a minimum wage that leaves one leaving in poverty is the issue for me. Not abandonment.

    @ENIG MUE and @RalphKenolEsq
    Oh and I responded to your street walking, protection narrative in the Dating Sans Patriarchy Post. Looking forward to your comments.

  7. Very54 says


    I love WHAT you write and HOW you write it (but watch your possessives lol).
    At first I didn’t understand how your friend had a “literal binary read of social movement histories”. But you came with strong arguments. Nailed the case.


  8. says


    Welcome to the blog and thank you.

    I love WHAT you write and HOW you write it (but watch your possessives lol).
    I kid you not. I had a 30 min lecture on possessives. Professor was NOT pleased. Going to study a handout on possessives this week. #win.