On Spring Valley High, Police Violence, Rape Culture and the School-to-Prison Pipeline

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When video surfaced recently of Deputy Ben Fields assaulting a young black female student at Spring Valley High School in South Carolina, I was still absorbing the details of a disturbing conversation I’d had with young, black, college-age women about rape culture and campus sexual violence. Despite the traumatic experiences relating to sexual assault that they or their […]

Straight Outta Compton and the Power of Black Women’s “Side Stories”


When director F. Gary Gray chose to cut the scene depicting rap producer Dr. Dre’s infamous assault on journalist Dee Barnes, then-TV host of Fox’s hip-hop show Pump it Up! back in January 1991, he dismissed the incident as one of many “side stories” that distracted from the main one concerning rap group N.W.A.’s rise to fame […]

Rihanna Unchained


I must confess that Rihanna is a guilty pleasure of mine. While pop stars like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift have claimed feminist identities, Rihanna refuses to toe political lines, rejects respectability politics, and unabashedly engages in bad behavior. Our society expects oh-so-high standards for women and people of color who must self-present as “role models.” Rihanna is having none […]

Say Their Names


I’m still reeling from the shock of the massacre that occurred at Emanuel A.M.E Church in Charleston, South Carolina. One of the oldest black churches in this nation, its history is one of resistance and solace. And this history continues to bear witness to the horrors of white supremacy with the recent murders of nine African […]

A Girl Child Ain’t Safe


“I had to fight my uncles. I had to fight my brothers. A girl child ain’t safe in a family of men.” So said Sofia, the hefty, feisty woman in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple (and immortalized by Oprah Winfrey in the film adaptation). In a novel highlighting protagonist Celie, an incest survivor who ultimately […]

Bessie and the Musical Legacy of Black Feminism


From the written page to the streets, and even to cable TV, black feminism is hitting its stride. Not only is a black feminist theorist like Kimberlé Crenshaw changing the political landscape—first with her policy brief, “Black Girls Matter,” and her article of the same name in Ms.‘ current issue, and later with her co-authored brief, […]

The Subversive Potential of Harriet Tubman on the $20


The $20 bill is ubiquitous in U.S. currency. It’s what ATMs usually spit out at you, the cash you often have on hand when paying for groceries or movie tickets. Of course, when I’m tending to finances I can conveniently overlook the face that is currently stamped on it—seventh president Andrew Jackson, who was responsible […]

Black Women’s Histories: A Conversation with Talitha L. LeFlouria


Black Women’s Histories, a conversation series profiling different feminist scholars engaging black women’s histories and narratives during Black and Women’s History Months (February and March, respectively), concludes with Talitha L. LeFlouria, author of the forthcoming Chained in Silence: Black Women and Convict Labor in the New South, due out next month. LeFlouria is assistant professor […]

Black Women’s Histories: A Conversation with Kate Clifford Larson


Black Women’s Histories, a conversation series profiling different feminist scholars engaging black women’s histories and narratives during Black and Women’s History Months (February and March, respectively), continues with Kate Clifford Larson, the primary biographer of Harriet Tubman, with her 2003 Bound for the Promised Land: Harriet Tubman—Portrait of an American Hero, and a consultant for […]

Beyonce’s Fierce Feminism

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This article originally appeared in the Spring 2013 issue of Ms. Click here to get a copy! The singer/actor/popular-culture icon known simply by her first name—Beyoncé—does not hesitate to embrace the feminist label. She has especially shined a light on women’s power: The power to perform in a male-dominated music industry; the power to acquire fame […]