There has been a substantial amount of discussion on Twitter and other social media on as to whether men should/are able to identify as feminists because it is a co-optation of women’s struggle. The point is extremely valid and those in power should always critically evaluate when we are co-opting space or being symbolically violent. Yet I firmly believe that all black men who are engaged in the struggle for black liberation should identify as feminist or engage in some type of advocacy of black feminist politics.
Identifying as a black male feminist entails the building of a radical critical consciousness that recognizes gender inequality and the horrible damage that the imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy causes. It means recognizing the intersectional nature of oppression, recognizing your own misogynoir, and realizing that patriarchy is damaging to black women and to black men. I firmly believe that identifying as feminist or aligning oneself with black feminist politics is a way of subverting the evils of patriarchy.
In “We Real Cool: Black Men and Masculinity”, bell hooks writes: “Black women cannot speak for black men. We can speak with them. And by doing so embody the practice of solidarity wherein dialogue is the foundation of true love.” I hold that the opposite is also true; black men cannot speak for black women, but we can join in solidarity to create that foundation of true love.