We can't even begin to illustrate the growth and depth of our love for Congresswoman Maxine Waters in the past few months. She has stood firm in her truth and critiqued this hellhole of an administration at every turn. She refuses to be intimidated and she continues to break silence. Auntie Maxine all day erryday.
In honor of our three year anniversary, we thought we'd take a trip to the days of yore, back to our very first post.
Loving the Spirit: Has the Womanist Movement been Secularized?
From Alice Walker’s Definition of a “Womanist” from In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens: Womanist Prose Copyright 1983.
3. Loves music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.
In 1983, Alice Walker published her book of womanist prose In Search of Our Mother’s Gardens. Within, she outlines four definitions of a womanist. In the third definition, Walker mentions that a womanist has love for the spirit. To the women who formed the first womanist movement, “loves the spirit” had a specific, concrete meaning based in Christian theological ideas. It seems to me that recently this interpretation of loving the spirit has taken a backseat to more secular, personal understandings implemented by black women. These modern, “3rd wave” womanists may not associate womanism with its beginnings in religious scholarship, or may actively seek separation from structured theological womanism.
Walker’s definitions served as a theoretical and methodological framework for the first womanist movement in the mid 1980s. A small group of black female scholars of religion, including Katie G. Cannon, sought liberation from a society that is both sexist and racist. Sensing the Black female consciousness left out of both the black and feminist theological movements of the 1960s, womanism was their expression of spirituality and faith that found its root internally, rather than in the margins of external movements. Fighting for consideration and representation in theological scholarship, the womanist movement was rooted in deeply religious ideology. However, Walker’s definitions of womanism fail to mention theology-- Christian or otherwise. In her essay Must I be Womanist? Monica Coleman critiques that first generation of womanist theologians, saying: “Walker writes that a womanist “loves the Spirit,” womanist religious scholars seem to have read, “loves the Christian Spirit.”
Black cyberfeminism has been gaining traction as a way to think about black women’s feminist engagement with digital space. Described by Kishonna Leah Gray-Denson in her chapter “Race, Gender, and Virtual Inequality: Exploring the Liberatory Potential of Black Cyberfeminist Theory,” cyberfeminism calls attention to the liberatory potential of digital spaces for feminists, for whom self-determination and expression is deeply important. Gray-Denson provides us the frame of black cyberfeminism, combining articulated qualities of cyberfeminism with black feminist thought. Black cyberfeminism argues that, in the onslaught of negative or negligible representation of black women, the space the Internet can provide for self-definition and self-determination has particularly high stakes and high potential rewards.
However, the Internet is not a safe space from the realities of our racist, sexist society. Reminding us of the limitations of black cyberfeminist digital theorizing, Gray-Denson states:
As Lorde and Clark (2007) posited, the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. This is fundamental reality that those with consciousness recognize: the oppressed will never be given full access to spaces, websites, blogs, social media, and other Internet technologies. Although technologies were never created with the intent to destroy the hegemonic structure, they can provide temporary or partial games in countering the establishment.()
I work against this critique by arguing that black cyberfeminism is a framework uniquely equipped to engage with the concept of a mediated, complex, contested space where liberation, healing, and black feminist discourse happens. This is because, simply, black feminist discourse always takes place under these tenuous conditions, and digital cultures do not depart from that trend. Black cyberfeminism can work from the black feminist tradition of loving the struggle(), of making a way out of no way(), and of finding ways to move and speak amongst those who would prefer our silence, obedience, and obliteration.
 Gray-Denson, Kishonna Leah. "Race, Gender, and Virtual Inequality: Exploring the Liberatory Potential of Black Cyberfeminist Theory." In Produsing Theory in a Digital World 2.0: The Intersection of Audiences and Production in Contemporary Theory, 178-79.
 Phrase taken from Alice Walker’s definition of a womanist. Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: Womanist Prose. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983.
 Colloquiual phrase, meant here to reference Monica Coleman’s text Making a Way out of No Way. Coleman, Monica A. Making a Way out of No Way: A Womanist Theology. Minneapolis, Minn,: Fortress Press, 2008.
The recent murders of our trans sisters in Louisiana (Monroe and New Orleans) and Illinois (Chicago) has left us feeling incredibly despondent. The current political discourse surrounding trans folks and bathroom bills has been disturbing, to say the least, but we think it is extremely important to remember that black trans women are being murdered at an alarming rate (and within our own communities). We think that it is constantly important to reiterate that you do not believe in black liberation if you do not believe that all black people should be liberated.
We think that Raquel Willis says it best.
Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaption by Damian Duffy
We have an inordinate amount of love for Octavia Butler's Kindred around these parts. We saw this in the window of our local bookstore and we had to have it right then and there. And it was as glorious as it looks from the cover. Vivid graphics that are so true to the spirit of the story. It is very close to realizing our imagining of a film adaption of this wonderful novel.
More than 35 years after its release, Kindred continues to draw in new readers with its deep exploration of the violence and loss of humanity caused by slavery in the United States, and its complex and lasting impact on the present day. Adapted by celebrated academics and comics artists Damian Duffy and John Jennings, this graphic novel powerfully renders Butler’s mysterious and moving story, which spans racial and gender divides in the antebellum South through the 20th century.
Butler’s most celebrated, critically acclaimed work tells the story of Dana, a young black woman who is suddenly and inexplicably transported from her home in 1970s California to the pre–Civil War South. As she time-travels between worlds, one in which she is a free woman and one where she is part of her own complicated familial history on a southern plantation, she becomes frighteningly entangled in the lives of Rufus, a conflicted white slaveholder and one of Dana’s own ancestors, and the many people who are enslaved by him.
Held up as an essential work in feminist, science-fiction, and fantasy genres, and a cornerstone of the Afrofuturism movement, there are over 500,000 copies of Kindred in print. The intersectionality of race, history, and the treatment of women addressed within the original work remain critical topics in contemporary dialogue, both in the classroom and in the public sphere.
Frightening, compelling, and richly imagined, Kindred offers an unflinching look at our complicated social history, transformed by the graphic novel format into a visually stunning work for a new generation of readers.
Welcome to Womanist Expressions, brainchild of Caitlin Gunn and Kidiocus Carroll.