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WOMEN

Gloria Steinem Says Black Women ‘Invented The Feminist Movement’

03/23/2015 12:06 pm ET | Updated Mar 23, 2015
 

 

Gloria Steinem is all about sisterhood.

In an interview with Black Enterprise, published on March 19, Gloria Steinem discussed the impact black women have had on the feminist movement and the idea that the movement has and continues to exclude them.

“I thought they invented the feminist movement. I know we all have different experiences, but I learned feminism disproportionately from black women,” Steinem told Black Enterprise reporter Stacey Tisdale.

The 80-year-old activist has had made many life-long friendships and alliances with powerful black feminists throughout her 50-year career. In 1971 she launched Ms. Magazine with Dorothy Pitman Hughes and later featured actress and activist Pam Grier as the first black woman to be on the cover of the magazine in 1975. Steinem was also close with black activist Flo Kennedy and the great Alice Walker.

“I realize that things being what they are, probably the white middle-class part of the movement got reported more,” Steinem continued. “But if you look at the numbers and the very first poll of women thinking about responding on women’s issues, African-American women were twice as likely to support feminism and feminist issues as White women.”

When Tisdale asked Steinem what she would tell black women who said the feminist movement isn’t about them or doesn’t speak to them, Steinem replied, “I don’t say anything. I listen.”

Listen to the full interview below.

  

Listen to the full interview below.

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Related on HuffPost:

 
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WOMEN

Gloria Steinem: ‘I Learned Feminism From Black Women’

Giving credit where credit is due.

01/05/2016 11:49 am ET
GILBERT CARRASQUILLO VIA GETTY IMAGES
 

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem is getting real about the role black women have played in the feminist movement and her own feminist education. 

In a December interview for Bust, Steinem spoke candidly about the classification of feminism as a “white middle-class” movement. To Steinem, feminism has always been about intersectionality. 

“Nothing in this country is not affected by racism and sexism and class, it’s not as if one can be exempt from those influences,” Steinem said.

“But in my experience, the women’s movement was less subject to them than any other large group that I’ve been part of. We all have different experiences and this probably wasn’t true from everyone, but I learned feminism disproportionately from black women.”

The 81-year-old activist has spoken candidly in the past about the key role black women and other women of color have played in the feminist cause. Last year, she stated that she feels as though black women “invented the feminist movement.”

Steinem’s acknowledgement of the importance of black and queer women in feminism is important. Even as debate continues about the ways in which “white feminism” continues to complicate intersectionality, this is a reminder that white women and women of color will always have much to learn from one another. 

 
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