For a very long time I was hiding. I was stuck in this stereotypical cavern that society had tried to place upon me, telling me that I should be quiet about my pain or silent about my beliefs. I allowed abuse, I allowed maltreatment, I became a full participator in the destruction of my temple simply because I refused to acknowledge my own power. I searched for answers to my problems in other humans and came up dry. I knew I had a voice but I didn’t know how to access it. I felt different then my friends and associates: I became angry at patriarchy, I advocated for women’s equality and economic sustainability I knew that my answer would only come if I searched for the answers myself.
The doors of my mind began to open. I picked up “Jesus Feminist” and recognized that God had fought for my liberation first (unlike the lies I had heard in some circles). I recognized that feminism meant that I was liberated from oppressive mindsets and destructive mindsets. Feminism began to mean that I was within my right to demand respect. Pause. Am I a feminist? I began to think to myself. I became nervous because my “friends” had deemed feminism as a dirty word. They told me that I could not be both a woman of God and a feminist/womanist. Then I picked up “In Search of our Mother’s Garden” and discovered that yes I was both spiritual and feminist, and that was okay. Shoot, it was more than okay. It was then that I had a mental picnic and invited June Jordan, Sojourner Truth (whom I did my final project report on in 4th grade on so I began to come full circle), Sonia Sanchez, Angela Davis, Patricia Collins, Claudia Tate, Toni Bambara and so much more. This is the place. I discovered that I was finding my voice.
I have always been a spiritual woman. I began to ponder their words while meditating on what this meant for me. As the world we are living in has revealed that black women are being targeted and attacked, I sensed a shift in me. How could I not be a feminist? How could I not advocate for my rights? I came across a quote by Patricia Collins, “The power of a free mind consists of trusting your own mind to ask the questions that need to be asked and your own capacity to figure out the strategies you need to get those questions answered. Over time, this requires building communities that make this kind of intellectual and political work possible.”
This shift was bigger than just me. Feminism is liberation, true liberation. It was through my research that I conducted a framework of what I believed feminism to be.
Black Feminism means that I am powerful and self-defining. Black Feminism means I am a temple for black girl magic and resilience. Black Feminism means that my life does not revolve around a man or trying to fit in to society’s standards. Black Feminism means that only I have the authority to dictate my life. Black Feminism means that I refuse to be dominated by racism, sexism, classism, ageism, or any other oppressive domain of irresponsible power. Feminism states that I have the power to worship Whom I desire to worship (shout out to the Most High). Feminism means that I do not stand around while my sisters are being abused and attacked every day. Feminism means that I acknowledge that I am more powerful than I ever realized. Feminism gave me my voice, and for that I say, Thank You.
Curtissa Odi is an anthropologist, educator, and writer. Her research spans the areas of literature, the Africana Diaspora, black feminist thought and spirituality. She is currently acquiring her Masters and is looking forward to exploring the various contours of the black women experience.