Since the advent of black feminism in America, there has been a critical theoretical lens for uplifting economically and socially disadvantaged people, especially black women. Black feminism is multi-vocal and rife with nuances. You have to, therefore, be specific about what feminism(s) you’re referring to within black feminism when attempting to critique it. Far too often, black feminism is viewed in a monolithic way. I want to clarify that many divergent voices, ideas, perspectives, etc., compose black feminism.
This is to offer a critique of those black feminists who don’t view the marginalization of the black man in America as important, who are threatened by what they refer to as “black male patriarchy,” and who see the marginalization and struggles of black men as completely separate from the marginalization and struggles of black women in America.
In Postmodernism or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism, Fredric Jameson posits that postmodernism, the historical and cultural epoch in which we reside, celebrates fragmentation and resists thinking in terms of totality. For Jameson, people situated in the postmodern period often fail to see how individual phenomena (fragments) are connected to a larger dominant narrative (a totalized, whole narrative). Jameson’s theoretical construct is, therefore, quite useful in evaluating black feminists who don’t want to view the marginalization of black men in America as important. Their failure to see this as vital is a failure to recognize the interconnections between black male and female marginalization.
The legacies of slavery and Jim Crow are real. In fact, they’re responsible for the marginalization and struggles of black America as a whole, and black men and women share a linked fate in America because of those legacies. The marginalization and struggles of black women are not any more important than those of black men. Racist ideology is not simply used against black women, but also against black men. In fact, racists find power in targeting black women and men; by going after them, they believe they can dismantle not just a part of a family, but the whole family. Racists feel they can destroy black relationships, hoping to make black solidarity impossible. In essence, they use the same “divide and conquer” strategy employed during slavery.