chapter  37
White woman listen! Black feminism and the boundaries of sisterhood
Pages 22

The black women’s critique of history has not only involved us in coming to terms with ‘absences’; we have also been outraged by the ways in which it has made us visible, when it has chosen to see us. History has constructed our sexuality and our femininity as deviating from those qualities with which white women, as the prize objects of the Western world, have been endowed. We have also been defined in less than human terms.2 Our continuing struggle with history began with its ‘discovery’ of us. However, this chapter will be concerned with herstory rather than history. We wish to address questions to the feminist theories which have been developed during the last decade; a decade in which black women have been fighting, in the streets, in the schools, through the courts, inside and outside the wage relation. The significance of these struggles ought to inform the writing of the herstory of women in Britain. It is fundamental to the development of a feminist theory and practice that is meaningful for black women. We cannot hope to reconstitute ourselves in all our absences, or to rectify the ill-conceived presences that invade herstory from history, but we do wish to bear witness to our own herstories. The connections between these and the herstories of white women will be made and remade in struggle. Black women have come from Africa, Asia and the Caribbean and we cannot do justice to all their herstories in a single chapter. Neither can we represent the voices of all black women in Britain, our herstories are too numerous and too varied. What we will do is to offer ways in which the ‘triple’ oppression of gender, race and class can be understood, in their specificity, and also as they determine the lives of black women.