Women of Color, Shirley Chisholm and Intersectionality

Image result for Shirley Chisholm
Picture from Chantal Victoria 

Shirley Chisholm was the first U.S. black woman to be elected into the House of Representatives in 1961. She became the political embodiment of the needs and wants of the poverty-ridden neighborhood, Bedford Stuyvesant, in Brooklyn. This challenged the traditional ways of the patriarchal democracy found within the United States. Additionally, in 1972, with a challenge to the status quo issued, she decided to be the first African American woman to seriously run for the presidency as a Democratic nominee. This helped further the contention of the patriarchal strings attached to the stagnation of progress in the black community.

Being raised in a strong-headed Caribbean household, Chisholm was able to dedicate her life to transforming not only the lives of the black community, but also that of the black women who are triply oppressed because of class, race, and sex. Intersectionality is a term that defines this triple hardship that black woman face. In the article, Black Feminism and Intersectionality by Sharon Smith, the author shares this description of the concept by stating that, “Intersectionality is not an abstract notion but a description of the way multiple oppressions are experienced” (Smith, 1). Chisholm understood and experienced this intersectionality, and wanted to transform the values of the patriarchal political system by incorporating values of feminism that confronted the world of its male-centered thinking. Ultimately, this led to the rise in the need to give black women a sense of liberation; the oppressed black woman whom from the abolishment of slavery should have been given the liberty and freedom that the very framework of this nation loves to implement.

In the film, Chisholm 72 unbought and unbossed by Shola Lynch, the director examined Chisholm’s presidential campaign during an era where black people were fiercely being discriminated against. This film was an integral part of understanding the complicated definition of intersectionality and the identity of, “Woman” in American culture. This film is evidence of the ways Chisholm sparked political feminist movements, and it also shows how she herself was discriminated against due to her: blackness, femininities, and fearlessness in spite of her socioeconomic origins.

Image result for Chisholm 72 unbought and unbossed
Picture from ArtRage

In this film, Chisholm exclaims,

“ It is not female egotism to say that the future of mankind may very well be ours to determine. It is a fact. The warmth, gentleness, and compassion that are part of the female stereotype are positive human values, values that are becoming more and more important as the values of our world begin to shatter and fall from our grasp.”

I agree with this statement because I don’t believe that the desire for a better future for women and other genders will be individually manifested by a white middle-aged male running for presidency or any other political authoritative role. I don’t believe that it is selfish, narcissistic, arrogant, or egotistic for a woman to want a prosperous, brighter living status for humanity, than the constructed and twisted up ways distribution of power in our political standing now and for the future. Additionally, I believe that in reality a woman who constructs a platform of feminist thinking policies around all political realms━for example social justice, the environment, education, working conditions, transgender rights, etc━will be truthful to the needs of mankind. Furthermore, these very stereotypes that Chisholm refers to are the same characteristics that are ideal when dealing with an unjust and unequal patriarchal male-centered system of government.

Written by Joely Acosta
Edited by Edy Vasquez


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