Slave or Rebel? Why Black Feminists Are Calling IN Meryl Streep & The Cast Of Suffragettes

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

3pm-4:30pm EDT


In a disturbingly cheerful editorial photoshoot published this week featuring Meryl Streep and her Suffragettes cast (, we see the all-white women crew proudly posing in t-shirts that brazenly bear the words of Emmeline Pankhurst from a 1913 voting rights rally in Great Britain: “I’d rather be a rebel than a slave.” In her HuffPo response, writer Zeba Blay dismisses the centrality of historical context in order to focus on current consequences of the use of the term ‘slave.’ Blay notes that “gender oppression is toxic and terrible but it is just not the same thing as slavery.”

For Zeba and many other feminists in our own ranks, the only reasonable reaction is to recoil (with rage, sorrow, confusion) at such a scene which dismisses our ancestors’ pain and violation. But if there is any conceivable benefit of Streep’s muddled mess, it’s that it exposes the rifts between White feminists seeking to situate themselves in their own foremother’s flawed but heady tropes and supporting Black feminists’ resistance to state racism, violence, and erasure.

How does Streep’s recycling Pankhurst’s declaration today ignore centuries of Black women’s struggle for full accessibility to citizenship?

Was the same invisibility perpetuated by the use of the phrases like “wage slavery” at labor protests by the Lowell Mill girls or the usage of the moniker “modern-day slavery” by anti-sex trafficking campaigners?

There is no doubt that too many media campaigns and White feminist movement spaces are mired in the foggy swamps of historical amnesia, wherein Black women’s herstories as American citizens are perpetually trivialized and lost.

Black Women’s Blueprint seeks to respond to this erasure in conversation with you!

How can we bring back the intersectional language of our herstories?

How have Black women historically wrestled with the complicated interconnectedness of sexism and racism in the United States context?

Join us for next week’s webinar Slave or Rebel to consider these risks, rewards, and reclamations in light of this recent firestorm.

Price: $5

Facilitators: Sevonna Brown, Human Rights Projects Manager, Ashley J. Hobbs, Communications and Campus Program Coordinator and Kaitlyn Newman, Director of Strategic Development (Black Women’s Blueprint)


About wocpdxzines

I enjoy reading, writing, and traveling!
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