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Why we need a Black Feminisms Forum

The Black Feminisms Forum (BFF) takes place 5 - 6 September 2016, ahead of the AWID Forum in Bahia, Brazil.

The BFF will connect Black and Afrodescendant feminists from many regions of the world to celebrate the contribution of Black feminisms to knowledge, practice and struggles for self-determination and justice, while building solidarity and collective power.

The BFF is being organised by a working group that represents a multiplicity of identities who originate and work from diverse countries on the African continent and its widespread Diaspora.

A selection of working group members share below why we need a Black Feminisms Forum.

Kimalee Phillip

Twitter: @KimaleePhillip | Instagram: @maroonisle

“The structural makeup of one’s spirit shifts and changes when one has to constantly react to, respond to, and live in violence. That violence may be interpersonal, intrapersonal, intracommunity or imposed by the state. A common thread though is that this violence is calculated, attached to particular bodies and will remain present, as long as those bodies have the audacity to exist.

Given that these violences are ongoing, the Black Feminisms Forum (BFF) cannot exist outside of violence but it is not occurring because of violence. We are coming together because we are being drawn to each other; our spirits are connected and the need to convene is urgent. Black women across the globe are tapping into the joys, the loves and existence strategies of individual and collectives of Black women. We are African. We are Black. We are here. The BFF gathering is critical, as it will help assert, not only our presence, but also our audacity to live, love and thrive!”

Grenadian-born Kimalee Phillip, is an anti-colonial, Black feminist who is currently involved in anti-state and anti-police violence in Toronto and human rights work in Grenada.

Amina Doherty

Twitter: @sheroxlox | Instagram: @aminaolayiwola

"I think the Black Feminisms Forum (BFF) offers an important opportunity for Black feminists to come together, think together, strategise, dream and build together as friends, colleagues, family, and comrades. I am most excited about creating community with Black feminists across language, identity, location and beyond. There are so few spaces for us as Black family to come together to talk ...and I mean really "talk" ask questions of each other, to debate, to learn, to teach, to share trauma and pain, to hold each other, to laugh, cry and just 'BE' with each other. The world needs a BFF as space that supports, sustains, and connects global Black family who are passionate about justice, love, equality, creativity, and sustainability."

Amina Doherty is a Black, African Feminist Nomad Artist Living & Loving Across the Continent & Diaspora.

Sokari Ekine

Twitter @blacklooks  Instagram @blacklooks_

“The Black Feminisms Forum [BFF] represents the principle of RaSanBlaj  - a way of coming together in love, resistance and imagination, always looking forward with the past in mind.   Because in the age of hyper militarism across our worlds, the age when activism is becoming even more difficult in a world seduced by easy materialism, the age when caring for body and spirit have become commodified and devoid of real depth, we need a space as Black feminists to counter the above and engage in caring as a political perspective that must be nurtured and protected in relation to the earth, the air we breathe, the life of our planet and all that encompasses huwumanity.”

Sokari Ekine is a Black Queer Feminist currently working on a photographic narrative “Spirit Desire: - Resistance, Imagination and Sacred Memories in Haitian Vodoun” and on anti-violence with youth in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.  

Margo Okazawa-Rey

“Tired (for the moment) of struggling for our Sisters', communities, and our own human rights, sustainable livelihoods, dignity, and spaces to love and live? Hungering for nourishment and sustenance we get from other Black women? Yearning to share our abundance? Longing to dance, read poetry and to be read to, play and listen to music, and do and be in the arts with our Sisters? Needing to learn innovative and new ways to thinking and doing activist work because you have hit the doldrums? The Black Feminisms Forum will be just what you need, want, been yearning for, and could ever hope for. Join us and become the BFF!”

Margo Okazawa-Rey is a Black feminist, mild-mannered, school teacher who loves being alive and life itself. Her vocation is to help make connections: Sisters to Sisters; across generations, geographies, and events; ideas, action, and reflections; and material and non-material worlds.

Patita Tingoi

Twitter @patita222

“If people must express themselves freely, there has to be a climate in which they can do that. BFF provides us with an opportunity to reassess the current political reality and will provide the space to advance contributions of Black feminist thought towards challenging patriarchy, white supremacy and decolonisation of our bodies and communities.”

Patita Tingoi is an African feminist, Pan Africanist and a community organizer.

Valérie Bah

Twitter @val_bah | Instagram: valdbah

“They want to erase us. Histories are re-written to excise our pain, contributions, and achievements. They had a woman in blackface portray Nina Simone in a biopic. Hollywood says that a white man threw the first bottle at the Stonewall Riots.

Trans women of colour are brutalized and murdered while the mainstream media turns an uncaring eye and writes breathlessly about the Taylor Swifts.

We need, now, as much as ever, to gaze into each other's faces, to hear each other's voices, to poke each other in the arm, and affirm that this is not a nightmare, that we do exist. They want to erase us.”

Valérie Bah is a writer, visual storyteller, and the French production coordinator at AWID.

Jamila Abbas

"My vision of the BFF is that we will enter into a powerful sea of Black feminists in all our diversities and bathe in an amazing journey of learning, sharing and exchanging together. I feel that the BFF gives a space for me to be able to express my ideas, myself and share my feelings as a Black girl and to hear from people about their perspectives on feminism and on being Black. I am excited to learn about different movements and how they have impact.  The wide group of generations at the BFF is important not only to learn about how different times bring different circumstances and how we each react to different moments but also for us young feminists to hear how older Black feminists see the situation now. To me, the strength of the BFF will be in its diversity amongst our commonality."

Jamila Abbas is a high school student. She is interested in music and the use of social media as a tool to support movement building.

Felogene Anumo

Twitter: @felogene | Instagram: @felogene1

“The Black Feminist Forum being convened in Salvador de Bahia presents both a significant moment and process. We are living in challenging times in light of the multiple and simultaneous crises we face today: the militarization and privatization of all aspects of daily life; escalating state and non-state violence against people of color around the world; the upsurge of settler colonial borders at the expense of indigenous and colonized peoples; rise in conservatism; crack down of social movement, attacks on our freedom in the guise of anti terrorism discourses and the contraction of academic freedoms in our colleges and universities. This moment requires brevity, imagination and radical love. The BFF provides a space for black feminists of all ages and persuasions to respond to these challenges. A space for us to come together across generations, geographies and movements, to reflect, dialogue, celebrate, collectivize our resistance and birth a re-invigorated movement.”

Born and raised in Kenya, Felogene Anumo is a Pan-Africanist and young feminist who is passionate about social justice.

Thenjiwe McHarris

Twitter @ThenjiweTM

"Why do we need the Black Feminist Forum? It is ever more clear, that we will meet our liberation through the analysis, organizing and love of the black feminist freedom fighters from all corners of the globe. Now imagine a forum full of them. That's why."

Thenjiwe currently works with a team called Blackbird, which is focused on movement building in this current historical moment that centers anti-black racism, state violence and black resistance as part of the ongoing struggle to transform the country.

Hakima Abbas

Twitter @HakimaAbbas

"The BFF is exciting to me as a process through which we can collectively imagine and build Black feminist futures where we thrive, grow, and care for each other and the earth.

I imagine the BFF to be a space where we hold each other with love and tenderness, a space in which we feel supported to be ourselves fully and authentically in our multiplicities, which includes pushing each other, having difficult conversations that draw us from our comforts and privileges, and where we hold each other accountable.  I vision a BFF in which we practice freedom, love and solidarity. I want to be part of a space where we can exhale, celebrate, and reach each other. Pamoja."

Hakima is a revolutionary. When she closes her eyes, she can see, taste and feel the warmth of liberation in the breeze. She aspires to tending the land, dancing with the ocean and be surrounded by the laughter of children.  

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah

Twitter @nas009 | Instagram @dfordarkoa

“We need a Black Feminist Forum because when we come together we are powerful in our unity, solidarity and commonalities. We need to connect our movements and build with our sisters from across the continent and Diaspora. We need to shatter the arbitrary divisions caused by slavery and colonisation. Consciously, and deliberately we need to come together and form alliances, working to create the future we want and need.”

Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah is an African feminist who lives and works out of Ghana


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