Women & Non-binary Identities CELEBRATING BLACK HISTORY MONTH
WELCOME. How are women and non-binary folk portrayed in black history? Is this representation fair? What does this mean to the mediatization of black history month? Black History month is celebrated across the nation. However, it seems to mainly focus on the historical achievements of male activists. “The most unprivileged person in America is the Black woman”. Black women and Non-binary folk are thriving and surviving everyday, but their achievements are not celebrated enough. Yes, civil rights may exist, but black lives are taken everyday due to the existence of anti-blackness. Even in movements like #BlackLivesMatter there seems to be a lack of media attention towards women (including trans women) and the non-binary folks’ struggle. Today we want to celebrate women and non-binary identities in black history and remember the diverse activism that paved the way for today’s generation. We shall hear from influential people who are trailblazing a path for the next generation.
Today’s Itinerary. 1230 - Guests arrive for networking and Lunch 1300 - Event begins 1305 - Panel discussion starts 1330 - Open floor discussion starts 1355 - Event Closes 1400 - Post event Networking
Our Safe Space Policy. Shades of Noir is committed to providing an inclusive and supportive space for all attendees at our events. SoN believes all guests should be free from intimidation or harassment, resulting from prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, marital or maternity/paternity status, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation, gender identity, trans status, socio-economic status, or ideology or culture, or any other form of distinction. 2 // BLACK HISTORY MONTH: WOMEN AND NON-BINARY IDENTITIES.
KEY QUESTIONS. What is Black History month to you? How do you believe Black History Month represents women and non-binary folk? How effective is the mainstream when talking about representation and archiving marginalised voices in the arts? What can we do as young people/students to ensure diverse voices are heard? What does the representation of black artist look like on your curriculum?
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Jacob V Joyce. Jacob V Joyce is a non binary interdisciplinary artist that disrupts commercial and community spaces with queer and decolonial, creative interventions. Currently working as an illustrator for Global Justice Now, Jacob creates the artwork for international human rights campaigns as well as comic books and zines addressing personal and global instances of systemic oppression. As a member of the sorryyoufeeluncomfortable collective and the front person for the band Screaming Toenail, Jacobâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s work brings satirical and theatrical critiques to institutional and every day instances of marginalisation. As well as self-publishing a number of illustrated books addressing a variety of political issues, Jacob performs spoken word and solo electronic music which combines ritualistic voice looping with poetic strategies of resistance. In the past Jacob has curated a number of exhibitions including the two week Brixton based festival Survival Guides which featured art works, performances and workshops by over 50 artists. Jacob was one of many activists involved in organising the five London Queer Social Centres and more recently the QTIPOC (queer trans intersex people of colour) lead/centred Queer Picnic. Studying a Masters in Art and Politics at Goldsmiths until 2018 Jacob intends to continue using art to support and encourage working class, Poc, LGBTQIA and other groups who are perpetually disenfranchised by UK governments to communally and autonomously take direct action and force structural changes in our political landscapes.
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Rebekah Ubuntu. Rebekah Ubuntu is a London-based performance artist and musician whose collaborative work has featured on BBC Radio 1’s Annie Mac show, London’s Serpentine Galleries, and UK-wide arts institutions. Studying Creative Musicianship at the British Institute of Modern Music, current works in development include electronic music performance, songwriting and live performance art. Ubuntu’s work explores the tension between autobiographical experience and interdisciplinary practice, with specific focus on auto-ethnography, social class, queerness, gender-queerness, Afro-futurism and subversion. TW & INST: @ Rebekah.ubuntu // FB: Rebekah.ubuntu.artist
Siana Bangura. Siana Bangura is a writer, blogger, poet, performer, social critic and freelance journalist hailing from South London via Freetown, Sierra Leone. She is the founder of Black British Intersectional Feminist platform, No Fly on the WALL; the producer of upcoming film, ‘1500 And Counting’, investigating police brutality in the UK; and is the bestselling author of ‘Elephant’, her critically acclaimed debut collection of poetry. Siana has written for The Fader, Contemporary Other, Huffington Post, Evening Standard, VICE and has been featured in The Voice, Dazed, Buzzfeed, the BBC, Channel 4, SKY TV, to name just a few. She is also a regular voice at Media Diversified and Black Ballad as well as other alternative media platforms. Bangura’s work has a special focus on race relations in Britain and the intersection of race and gender and how this affects the daily lives of Black British women and Black women living in the UK. TW: @Sianaarrgh // www.dontgotheresiana.com //www.sianabangura.com BLACK HISTORY MONTH: WOMEN AND NON-BINARY IDENTITIES. // 5
Susuana Amoah. Susuana Amoah is a Masters Student at the University of Sussex studying Gender and Media. Previously Susuana was the NUS National Women’s Officer, University of London Union Women’s officer and feminism society president at Royal Holloway where she graduated with a degree Media Arts. During her time as student officer Susuana founded the I Heart Consent campaign, lobbied for government action to tackle violence against women on campus and campaigned to increase the numbers and the support for women of colour in student and feminist activism. Susuana’s activism and artwork focuses on intersectional feminism, sexual violence and radical self-care. Susuana will be taking the lead role of communications at Black Blossoms.
Mia Blake. Chair. Mia Blake is a multi-disciplinary artist who mainly works in fashion design and textiles and is currently studying Fashion Design Technology: Womenswear at London College of Fashion. Her work is largely concerned with subculture movements and the countercultural identities that surround her. She particularly enjoys bringing together seemingly conflicting cultures to present notions of hybrid identity. Mia has relations and experience in both the artist and activist communities and works to bring them together to build stronger relations between the two. She strives to provide social spaces for activists and oppressed peoples to enjoy themselves alongside the protesting and fighting. Most notably she is currently involved in Black Girls Picnic as part of the original organising team and graphic designer. This has grown into a nationwide and international movement with events happening from London to Berlin. She is also one-third of No In-between, a collective working to give platforms focused on Black women and women of colour across our many intersections.
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KEY TERMS. AFAB
Assigned female at birth
Assigned male at birth
A member of a dark-skinned people, especially one of African, Australian and Caribbean Aboriginal ancestry. A term used in certain countries, often in socially based systems of racial classification or of ethnicity.
The belief that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are impossible to separate. These concepts relate to each other through intersectionality
Black History Month First celebrated in the UK in 1987, Black History Month in the UK is marked annually during the month of October and in the USA during the month of February, with important reference to the black society. Black Panthers
Originally the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, was a revolutionary black nationalist and socialist organization active in the United States from 1966 until 1982. The Panthers practiced militant self-defense of minority communities against the U.S. government, and fought to establish revolutionary socialism through mass organizing and community based programs.
A person who identifies with the gender that was assigned for them at birth
When a person of the dominate culture borrows something of cultural significance from minority groups, whilst lacking a contextual understanding of what makes the cultural symbols, art forms and modes of expression significant.
scattered population whose origin lies within a smaller geographic locale. Diaspora can also refer to the movement of the population from its original homeland. BLACK HISTORY MONTH: WOMEN AND NON-BINARY IDENTITIES. // 7
A set of behaviours, presentations and roles which are culturally associated with being a woman and/or possessing female sex characteristics. People of any gender identity or sexual orientation can be feminine, but those who are assigned female at birth often experience societal pressure to be so.
Femme is a feminine gender role which is sometimes used as a gender identity. The term femme originated in communities of lesbian and bi women. Those who identify as femme may have the gender identity of woman and have a strongly feminine gender expression, or they may use femme as a non-binary gender identity aligned with femininity.
Gender Expression Refers to the way that a person uses appearance, mannerisms and other personal traits to communicate their gender. Gender expression can be any or a combination of masculine, feminine and androgynous traits. Gender Fluid
A gender identity which refers to a gender which varies over time. A gender fluid person may at any time identify as male, female, neutrois, or any other non-binary identity, or some combination of identities.
Prejudice against the LGBTQ+ community
A term coined by KimberlĂŠ Crenshaw which examines how social identities are used as a way to discriminate against marginalised groups who experience multiple forms of oppression simultaneously. Specifically women of colour who suffer from both gender and racial discrimination.
A perspective within feminism that doesn't exclude people from the movement based on their Gender, Race and Class.
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An intersex person is has sex characteristics e.g.sexual anatomy, reproductive organs, and/or chromosome patterns that do not fit the typical definition of male or female. This may be apparent at birth or become so later in life.
To relegate to the fringes, out of the mainstream; make seem unimportant:to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power.
A term referring to misogyny directed towards Black women, where race and gender both play roles in bias.
A social system in which females hold primary power, predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and control of property at the specific exclusion of men i(at least to a large degree.
A set of behaviours, presentations and roles which are culturally associated with being a man and/or possessing male sex characteristics. People of any gender identity or sexual orientation can be masculine, but those who are assigned male at birth often experience societal pressure to be so.
Non-binary gender describes any gender identity which does not fit within the binary of male and female.
Person of colour
Political Blackness Political blackness is the idea that all non-white people can define themselves under one term: black. Prejudice
Hatred towards someone based on their identity. Example: An oppressed person of colour can be prejudice against privileged races but cannot be racist.
A special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group. BLACK HISTORY MONTH: WOMEN AND NON-BINARY IDENTITIES. // 9
Queer Trans and Intersex People of Colour
An umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities that are not heterosexual and/or cisgender
Queerphonia Reverse Racism
A belief that ethnic minority groups and people of colour are capable of being racist towards white folk, which is a politically incorrect term since the societies function under white supremacy.
Self Defining women A person who identifies as a woman, regardless of what gender was assigned for them at birth. Trans Feminine
A term used to describe transgender people who were assigned male at birth, but identify with femininity to a greater extent than with masculinity.
The term transgender is an umbrella term for anyone whose internal experience of gender does not match the gender they were assigned at birth .
Someone who is both a man and transgender/transsexual. Trans men were assigned female at birth but their gender identity is male.
A term used to describe transgender people who were assigned female at birth, but identify with masculinity to a greater extent than with femininity.
Prejudice against the Trans community
The term transsexual predates the term transgender, but has become less popular as it may imply that sex characteristics are more important than gender identity.
Someone who is both a woman and transgender/ transsexual. Trans women were assigned male at birth but their gender identity is female.
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A type of feminism that ignores the fight for equality of anyone who don't identify as white, cisgender and heterosexual
White supremacy is an ideology centered upon the belief, and promotion of the belief, that white people are superior. It is argued by critical race theorist that all white people have a level of white supremacy values because of the media, education and politics have embedded whiteness as superior in society.
A term used to describe white actors or actress playing non-fictional and historical non-white character roles. Therefore writing and disconnecting historical events and achievements to the non-white community.
Woman of Colour
Woman is a gender identity which is part of the gender binary. Woman is a term used for adults, and corresponds to the terms girl.
Because mainstream feminism goals and ideologies differed to that of the needs of Black women, Alice Walker coined the term womanism where Black Women were at the center of the ideology without the need to racialise how gender plays an important role in the life of Black Women.
Fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign.
Learn more gender related keywords here: gender.wikia.com
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What does Women and Non-binary identities in black history month mean to you? How do you relate to this topic of discussion? I am a black woman of mixed race who is involved in activism and see up close the over emphasis on black male leadership and how the involvement of black women, queer peoples and non binary folks is undervalued and taken for granted. Who are the women and non-binary activists/artists that inspire you and your work? Kara Walker and Lorna Simpson are established artists who influenced me however I am more heavily inspired by the
women and non-binary people around me who are unestablished artists and activists and live in their truth. What is your artwork about? My work deals with the hyper-awareness black women have of our identities and knowing how we are perceived by larger society. As a mixed raced woman being aware of how my race (or rather perception of) changes given the environment this inspires me to question the nature of identity and how fixed or fluid it can be. I also explore the consumption of blackness, specifically sexuality as well as our awareness to it.
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REBEKAH UBUNTU. What does Women and Non-binary identities in black history month mean to you? How do you relate to this topic of discussion? I’m still discovering my cultural identity as well as my non-binary identity (genderqueer as I prefer to call it). Having grown up in foster care, my sense of identity is somewhat fragmented. I suppose for me, Black History always comes back to my mother who was Black Caribbean, and I take my investigations into my culture from this starting point. My gender-queerness also started with my mother, who continually instilled a sense that I should not feel obliged to behave according to gendered norms, which she provided a good model to emulate via her aesthetic, social life and DIY ethos. I have come to learn how ingrained gendered norms are to mainstream culture and how an aesthetic, which is often reduced to symbolise superficiality, is actually a threat to patriarchal heteronormativity. For example, I face daily harassment because my presentation fucks with gendered norms, but in the UK and when I have travelled across Europe. I have men aggressively barge at me in the street because I do not comply with ‘normal’ notions of ‘femininity’. I have women point, snigger and laugh saying they can’t tell if I am a man or a woman, and online harassment with similar sentiments. When I had a long afro, the hostility I experienced was predominantly about my race. I often experienced strangers stare at my hair, attempt to touch it, scream racist terms or celebrity names such as Kelis, Corinne Bailey Rae, Maci Gray, Alicia Keys at me, most often in public places (I’m not sure what the expected reaction was supposed to be!). Now I find since I’ve shaved my hair, which is often dyed and high-top styled, my race seems less apparent somehow, and is superseded by my gender-ambiguity. I feel incredibly privileged to have access to a plethora of informational resources that situate themselves among and prioritise people of colour and the black experience, while focusing on edifying and building strong networks for self-identifying women of colour who are also on the gender-intersection among others, such as mental health and well-being, disability and accessibility politics, queerness, the list goes on. Initiatives such as Gal-dem, BBZ, Resis’dance, Pussy Palace, among others, explore these nuances with their publications, zines, workshops, club nights and safe spaces online and within venues. I find solace in these resources, which I know I am privileged to access. Such resources are a lifeline in times of great need, which I think would have benefited my mother greatly and may have even supported her mental health resilience and possibly delayed her untimely death.
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Who are the women and non-binary activists/artists that inspire you and your work? Shiri Eisner: bisexual, genderqueer, feminist, anarchist, Mizrahi (Arabic Jew) and author of ‘Notes for a Bisexual Revolution’ (2013) Hengameh Yaghoobifarah: Berlin based non-binary POC activist, queer culture and fashion blogger at ‘Queer Vanity’ and editor at feminist publication ‘Missy Magazine’. Fannie Sosa: Argentinian and Black-Brazilian artist and PhD researcher using twerking and ‘twerkshops’ as medicine and cultural-feminist resistance for self-identifying women, non-binary and trans people of colour. Travis Alabanza: black, queer non-binary multi-media performance artist What is your artwork about? Fundamentally my work is about identity and the complex fragments of self located in bodily, psychological, archival and geographical memory. What this looks like in practice is several multimedia projects housed under the umbrella of my project title ‘Hashtag Identity’, which explores the tension between autobiographical experience and interdisciplinary practice. I focus on auto-ethnography, social class, queerness, gender-queerness, Afrofuturism and subversion. My work is unapologetically queer and autobiographical, and has thus far manifested itself in the form of video-works, multimedia performances, Ableton electronic music performance (with songwriting and live vocals), and collaborations. It is becoming more refined the more residencies I take part in, the more performances I deliver in queer spaces, the more conferences I discuss my work at such as ‘Queer Performance Now’ at King’s College London, and commissions from queer and QPOC initiatives. It is all in progress!
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. What does Women and Non-binary identities in black history month mean to you? How do you relate to this topic of discussion?
Centring my life with queer black women and non binary people is very important to me, in order to find folks with shared experiences. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m always trying to attract the people into my life that can share this fire, this rage, and make it into something active, something useful. Like trying to find other witches to share a spiritual practice with, or black femmes sharing in emotional labour. Being in black only spaces/ qtpoc spaces/ non binary proc spaces is so important to me, to relax and feel reflected. Sometimes I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t realise how much I have needed it until it happens.
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Who are the women and non-binary activists/artists that inspire you and your work? I love the writing and ideas of black women like Angela Davis, Assata Shakur and bell hooks. I feel like black women are often not given the place in history that they deserve. Women like Claudia Jones who were activists and critical thinkers. I also look towards social media for voices like Ashleigh Shackelford and Che Gossett. My sibling and dear friend Jacob V Joyce is always an inspiration to me for the work that they do as an artist and activist. Groups that are led by black people, and often black women, such as Movement for Justice and the Black Women’s Rape Action project remind me to stay focused on the work I want to do and be in it for the long game. Media teaches people to be interested in singular issues for short periods of time and I appreciate these groups and movements that have longevity by staying focused on what they want to do. There is a great wealth of black women and non binary artists to research and love: Ingrid Pollard, Lubaina Hamid, Sonia Boyce, Maud Sulter, Claudette Johnson, Ellen Gallagher, Carrie Mae Weems, to name a few. It’s important to also remember that movements like Black Lives Matter was started in the U.S by three black queer women. What is your artwork about? Fundamentally my work is about identity and the complex fragments of self located in bodily, psychological, archival and geographical memory. What this looks like in practice is several multimedia projects housed under the umbrella of my project title ‘Hashtag Identity’, which explores the tension between autobiographical experience and interdisciplinary practice. I focus on auto-ethnography, social class, queerness, gender-queerness, Afrofuturism and subversion. My work is unapologetically queer and autobiographical, and has thus far manifested itself in the form of video-works, multimedia performances, Ableton electronic music performance (with songwriting and live vocals), and collaborations. It is becoming more refined the more residencies I take part in, the more performances I deliver in queer spaces, the more conferences I discuss my work at such as ‘Queer Performance Now’ at King’s College London, and commissions from queer and QPOC initiatives. It is all in progress!
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JACOB V JOYCE.
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FURTHER READING. Campt, Tina. Image Matters: Archive, Photography, and the African Diaspora in Europe. Durham: Duke UP, 2012. Dent, Gina, and Michele Wallace. Black Popular Culture. Seattle: Bay, 1992 Hall, Stuart. What is This “Black” in Black Popular Culture Davis, Angela. Blues Legacies And Black Feminism: Gertrude “Ma” Rainey, Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday. 1999 Hooks, Bell. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism. Boston, MA: South End, 1981. Print. Hooks, Bell. Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston, MA: South End, 1992. Chapter 2: “Eating the Other” Lorde, Audre. Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. Berkeley, CA: Crossing, 1982. Print. Lorde, Audre. Need: A Chorale for Black Woman Voices. 1990. Print. Yancy, George. Black Bodies, White Gazes: The Continuing Significance of Race. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Pub. 2008.
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HELPFUL ORGANISATIONS. Black Ballad Black Ballad is a UK based lifestyle website that taps into the conversations Black British women are having over dinner, through the changing room walls of Zara, online and anywhere else in between. www.blackballad.co.uk/about-us/
Black Blossoms Black Blossoms highlights the voices of Black Women by hosting regular events which Black Women are the centre of the conversation. It also aims to provide safe spaces for women in academia. blackblossoms.org
For Harriet For Harriet is an online community for women of African ancestry. We encourage women, through storytelling and journalism, to engage in candid, revelatory dialogue about the beauty and complexity of Black womanhood. We aspire to educate, inspire, and entertain. www.forharriet.com/ TW: @ForHarriet // FB: forharriet
AAPF The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) is an innovative think tank that connects academics, activists and policy-makers to promote efforts to dismantle structural inequality. We utilize new ideas and innovative perspectives to transform public discourse and policy. We promote frameworks and strategies that address a vision of racial justice that embraces the intersections of race, gender, class, and the array of barriers that disempower those who are marginalized in society. AAPF is dedicated to advancing and expanding racial justice, gender equality, and the indivisibility of all human rights, both in the U.S. and internationally. www.aapf.org BLACK HISTORY MONTH: WOMEN AND NON-BINARY IDENTITIES. // 23
SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS/EDUCATORS. Kat Blaque- Youtuber Kat Blaque is a transgender African American feminist vlogger, YouTube personality, activist and illustrator. In 2010, she began to vlog more publicly about her life and made an concerted effort to produce a channel with educational content about feminism, gender identity, race, and other social justice issues. www.youtube.com/channel/UCxFWzKZa74SyAqpJyVlG5Ew
Franchesca Ramsey- Youtuber Ramseyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s YouTube channel contains topical and socially conscious comedy sketches and song parodies among other videos. Her chescalocs channel is about natural hair. In 2015, Ramsey became the host of the MTV web series Decoded where she takes on racism and culture. www.youtube.com/user/chescaleigh/featured
Dr Gabriel Dr Gabriel is a full-time academic at Bournemouth University in the faculty of Media and Communication and during her academic career has lectured in journalism, media, politics and corporate marketing communications. She is concerned with contributing to social change through the innovation of pedagogies of social justice and cultural democracy and prides herself on creative thinking and embedding her philosophy of social justice and equality across teaching, research and professional practice.
Twitter Users to Follow @UnmaskedWoman @blackqueenCol @AIAWC @bglhonline @ShequalityMatte @BlackGirlNerds
@galdemzine @AllBlackWomen @BlackFems @spelmanmuseum @projectfem4all @WomenEnabled
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@BlackTransMedia @BlackTransWomen @GNBlackPride @centerblacklgbt
HASHTAGS TO FOLLOW. #BlackLivesMatter
An activist movement in the United States that began in the wake of the July 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman in the Florida shooting death of AfricanAmerican teen Trayvon Martin. The Black Lives Matter movement campaigns against police brutality in the United States against African-Americans.
“We’re using it to celebrate ourselves because historically black women haven’t had the type of support that other groups have... Black Girl Magic tries to counteract the negativity that we sometimes hold within ourselves and is sometimes placed on us by the outside world.” Cashawn Thompson Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/blogs-trending-35263240
A vigil in the memory of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman who was found hanged in a jail cell in Waller County, Texas, on July 13, 2015. Her death was classified as a suicide by the county coroner and was followed by protests against her arrest disputing the cause of death and alleging racial violence against her.
A Vigil in Memory of Black Women and Girls Killed by the Police
Elevating the life experiences of women and girls of color and pushing for the incorporation of gender in our definition of racial justice.
Raising awareness of the fact that girls of color face much harsher school discipline than their white peers but are excluded from current efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline. Read more about these Campaigns at aapf.org/sayhername/ BLACK HISTORY MONTH: WOMEN AND NON-BINARY IDENTITIES. // 25
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WITH THANKS TO. OUR PANELISTS & CONTRIBUTORS. Panelists: Susuana Amoah. Siana Bangura. Jacob V Joyce. Rebekah Ubuntu. Mia Blake. Contributors: Nicole Osula. Rudy loewe.
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Women & Non-binary Identities © Shades of Noir 2016