Celebrating Our Mothertongue: A Black Herstory Future!
“...Black women both shape the world and are shaped by it….[they] create their own Black feminist theory. They come to feminist theory and practice out of the oppression they experience as people who are poor and Black and women… Black feminism has evolved historically over the centuries, outside traditional white feminine roles, white social institutions and white feminist cultural theory.” - Keosho Yvonne Scott, The Habit of Surviving
Black Women’s Blueprint is celebrating how far we have come to this point in 2018. We are excited to share in this magical joy with our members, old and new, our community, national and international, and the ancestral chorus that surrounds our work and the work of our future endeavors.
Every Black history month we take stock of the beautiful narratives and herstories that have emerged over the course of the year, and this year we cannot help but pause and reflect on the life and legacy of sister Recy Taylor, who is not on the Grand Lady of Our Civil Rights, but a dear big sister friend and legacy member of Black Women’s Blueprint.
Recy defines what a survivor-led movement should look like. Her story is at the helm of the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (BWTRC). The 1944 rape of Recy Taylor by six Black men in Abbeville, Alabama, is the watershed moment that defines the genesis of our BWTRC.
Black Women’s Blueprint's held the 2016 Tribunal of the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, from April 28-May 1, 2016, as part of the International Decade of People of African Descent at the United Nations. The Truth Commission reflected a continued process five years in the making, involving national grassroots activism, direct service healing practice and participatory action research by Black Women’s Blueprint and survivors across the country on sexual violence as a human rights atrocity against women and girls of African descent past and present, which has never been acknowledged or sufficiently addressed.
The Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission was the first of its kind in the nation to focus on rape and sexual assault against Black women in the United States. Women and girls of African descent, many of whom were denied access and assistance from the criminal justice system, began to organize, realizing their own and collective transformation could not happen without public recognition and acknowledgment of the injustices and harms they had experienced. Out of these early discussions—first in New York City, and later in cities across the country such as Washington D.C., New Orleans, Mississippi, and Chicago—the BWTRC was born. Our Mandates included truth, justice, healing, and reconciliation.
Today and everyday we celebrate the Truth Commission, and all of the mothers and grandmothers and grand ladies of Black herstory month, who sing of Black feminist futures and freedoms across space and time. We too sing of freedom at the Museum of Women’s Resistance, where Black women survivor narratives are at the cornerstone of our archives and the very fruit from which we bloom movements and take over revolutions. From the Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission to the Mothertongue Monologues is the location from which we build Black feminist dwellings worthy of housing revolutionary acts of resistance.
We remember the Black women who fought as anti-rape activists, intellectuals, and abolitionists.
We celebrate the herstory of solidarity economies that sustain Black feminist dreams. We vision forward together and as individuals who believe in the collective identities of liberatory praxis. We continue to invest in the international and diasporic freedoms of our sisters across lands and waters.
For several years, our Mothertongue has been for the girl in us, the disappeared, the unacknowledged, the radical part of us hungry to tell our stories and shape the world, demanding more of our communities and of our country. Our Mother Tongue is a praise song and a ring shout from the heart of Black women who continue to imagine revolutionary spaces with us fully in it.
Mother Tongue brings us together through journeys, moments, incidents, and historical narratives of generations of women who seeded moments we now see manifested in the reflections, movements and protests of girls in mind, flesh and bonestalking bones. They talk stories. Like ancestors who carried past, present and future across oceans, the girl in us and those in our communities carry stories from block parties and ancient village dance circles, where drum beats spoke to them and they responded with swaying hips without fear, restraint or judgement.
We make music out of our truths that speaks to the volumns of narratives yet to be spoken from the lips of survivors, their communities, and the communities that bear witness to their lasting impact.
Deep is the well of wisdom and truth from which Black women like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Ida B. Wells send an echo through the historical timeline of dreamkeepers, cultural preservers, and Black feminist architects of truth.
We celebrate the divine feminine, the wholly unapologetic, and the ability to manifest the impossible.
We continue to bow at the feet of ordinary women who move mountains through their crusading, pioneering, and inventions.
When we celebrate Black History Month we fight to reclaim the lost narratives of not only fierce Black women leaders, but the voices of women who were outspoken survivors, who gave their testimonies, who shouted against misogyny, and who waged war against patriarchy.
We refuse to turn a blind eye to the Black women who carried the Civil Rights Movement on their backs, led slave revolts, and hoisted the Black Panther Party on their very shoulders. It was Rosa, Angela, Assata, Kathleen, Harriet, Edith, Coretta, Recy, Sojourner, Ida, Ella, Fannie Lou, Pauli, and so many, many, many, more names.