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Posted under: News Feminism

How The Black Women's Defense League Is Confronting Racism and Misogny Head-On

What happens when our allies in the fight for racial equality also harbor dangerous, sexist ideals?

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In recent weeks we have witnessed a broad reincarnation of the women’s movement as women of all races and nationalities have taken up the mantle of feminism for a new generation while staging protests all over the world. While this rebirth of feminism is important and necessary, it isn’t always intersectional. In addition to sexism, women of color and black women in particular, carry the added burden of racism, misogyny and deep-rooted toxic masculinity within our own culture. It is in that spirit that activist, Niecee X formed the Black Women’s Defense League as a coalition of women of color from all walks of life on the path to total liberation. 

Photo: Facebook @BlackWomenDefenseLeague

Black women, especially within the “woke” community, sometimes face the unique challenge of having to defend our men while also defending ourselves from them. What happens when our allies in the fight for racial equality also harbor dangerous, sexist ideals? The internal conflict is real. When confronted with this tension, Niecee broke off from the black advocacy groups that she had been a part of to form a new organization focused specifically on the obstacles faced by women of color. In an interview with Vice, the activist described the impetus that inspired her to start the organization. "There were issues with an individual that I had been dealing with romantically," she said of a man she met within Dallas's black activist community, "and there was some violence that occurred between him and me." The alleged abuse resulted in the miscarriage of a pregnancy. When she brought these allegations to the attention of the organization’s leadership, she was accused of fabricating the story, publicly disparaged on social media and ultimately kicked out of the group. 

Photo: Facebook @BlackWomenDefenseLeague

For black women who are caught in the crossfire between racism from outside of the community and patriarchy from within, the Black Women's Defense League encourages women to stand their ground and defend themselves. According to the group’s Facebook Page, “BWDL focus’ on self-defense through martial arts and other hand-to-hand combat techniques armed training with various types of artillery including knife fighting, marksmanship, and weapons of opportunity. BWDL also engages in emergency preparedness, urban survival training, ...and battered women’s rescue.” 

The self-described womanist organization’s mission extends beyond black feminism. “We believe in protecting our families and communities alongside our brothers and all oppressed people worldwide. In our communities, black men and women must function as two vital parts of the same body. BWDL seeks to refine, train and prepare women for a symbiotic relationship that will truly enrich our children, our lives and make a positive impact on our collective realities.”

It is clear that for black women, the movement for liberation must be fought on two fronts. The Black Women's Defense League stands for both.


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Staff Writer