By Zsana Hoskins,
Special to the AFRO
Black Feminist Future (BFF) will be hosting GET FREE, an event where major movement organizers, activists and leaders in the making from D.C. and the surrounding area will gather to build power, community and shift culture for Black women, girls and gender-expansive people from June 8-11. The city of Baltimore officially declared June 8 as Black Feminist Future day.
As the event kicks off, it will also feature several keynote speakers such as Mikki Kendall, Brittney Cooper, Lynae Vanee and BFF executive director, Paris Hatcher. Programming will include interactive workshops, plenary sessions, tea times chats, restorative spaces and ratifying the Black Feminist Agenda.
In Hatcher’s words, BFF is “a national member-centered organization that exists to both build and amplify the power of black women, girls and gender expansive people, both in the US and across the diaspora.”
“We exist because we know that our members face intersecting oppressions. And there is no one silver bullet that’s going to help us get free. And Black feminism as a blueprint, as an ideology, as an identity, we understand it as the pathway of how we get free,” said Hatcher.
Hatcher also highlighted the significance of this event and what it means for Black feminism.
“This is the 50th anniversary from the first Black feminist conference that happened. So in 1973, the National Black Feminist Organization had a convening, and so we are building on that legacy of Black feminists coming together in very much similar conditions of what we’re dealing with currently. So around attacks on reproductive justice and reproductive rights, around issues impacting black communities,” said Hatcher.
The event’s location also plays a major role in its importance.
“We’ve chosen Baltimore as a whole city because we believe in the importance of Black cities and really see this as a long-term relationship with the city and the incredible organizing and the history of organizing in the city on a variety of issues. But feminist issues, racial justice issues, democracy issues, you name it,” said Hatcher. “So Baltimore really is a character in our conference, meaning we really see the city as really a vital partner in telling the story of how we want to get free.”
For Hatcher, Black feminist voices must be heard.
“We deserve to have our humanity shown so not just the terrible things that are happening to us, but also the beauty, the creativity, the joy that we put into the world as well. And also, Black feminists—we are the solution. So if you want to know how to get free, if you want to know how to fix this problem, you follow Black feminists.”
Kenya Martin, program manager at We Testify and member of Black Feminist Future (BFF) for almost three years, will not only be attending GET FREE but leading a session titled “Abortion Stigma Free.” The session will be a closed session for Black individuals who have had abortions to talk about internalized trauma and how to get free.
“I’m big on doing that work that centers us and our experiences because we are the experts and the authors of our lives and only we can tell our stories the way that they need to be told. It’s necessary for our collective liberation to focus on us and be about us because Black women—we hold this value and we are the only ones that can save us,” Martin spoke about being a Black feminist.
Jen Sarduy, director of communications at Donors of Color and a two-year member of BFF, is most excited about the fellowship and networking opportunities that the event will bring.
“The meals, the conversations that happen around tables between sessions are just always where the magic is. I’m super excited for those moments. I got my digital business card and I’m about to make some friends,” Sarduy said.
Sarduy believes community is crucial to BFF, and the Black Feminist movement overall.
“The winning strategy has always been to divide us. If you think about the Black family structure now, even in the most cishet way, one in three Black men are slated to go to prison in their lifetime. That is a direct result of slavery and selling families from each other. That separation is still playing out today when we think about Black women being most affected by wage gaps and family separation,” Sarduy said.
Martin also thinks community is necessary for overall the Black feminist agenda.
“For me, I think it’s about bringing us all together and to really just show up for each other. I just think community in itself is healing and freeing and it does help us move past some of those collective trauma that we share,” Martin said.
Martín wishes more people understood that Black feminism is much more than meets the eye.
“I often see this narrative floating around that only focuses on the word feminist or feminism in itself. The more we talk about this and have organizations like BFF, the more we shift that narrative and let people who don’t really know or understand what Black feminism looks like,” said Martin.
Similarly, Sarduy wishes more people knew that Black feminism is expansive and expressed her excitement to be in an inclusive space where individuals can learn from one another.
“In this era, we are yearning to connect in lots of ways and trying to find spaces to connect. Historically, Black spaces specifically have been heavily controlled by acceptability politics—not cross-cultural or inclusive or focused on how we can be more acceptable. A gathering like this really encourages people to come as they are, as their whole selves,” said Sarduy.
Overall, both members are thrilled about this upcoming event and all that it will bring—learning, growth, connections, and more.
Martin emphasized how grateful she is to be a part of the organization.
“This has been a life-changing experience—connecting with the folks at BFF. I just really love this organization and what they’re doing and how radical they are for bringing us together in this way,” said Martin. “I’m looking forward to just being in the room. All of the brilliance and all of that good, dope, Black feminist energy. I’ll be in the building like a sponge. It’s going to be like a Black love fest!”
For more information on how to attend GET FREE, visit blackfeministreunion.com. To learn more about joining BFF, visit blackfeministfuture.org.
The post Black Feminist Future highlights community with three-day long event, GET FREE: A Black Feminist Reunion appeared first on AFRO American Newspapers .