Julia Chinyere Oparah
Transformational Leader * Social Justice Educator * Activist Scholar
women of color activism
In the 1970s, women of African, Caribbean and Asian descent in Britain came together to build a movement against racism, sexism and imperialism. Transcending racial boundaries and narrow nationalist scripts, they adopted the term “black” as a strategic collective identity for all women of color struggling together for autonomy and justice. As a university student and budding activist, I joined the Cambridge Black Women’s Group and was schooled in anti-racist feminism by a loving and committed group of women. I then became coordinator of Osaba Women’s Center, a grassroots organization fighting for racial and economic justice and working to create safety for women escaping gender violence. Later, frustrated with the erasure of our work from written accounts, I returned to school and wrote a Ph.D. and then a book on the black women’s movement in Britain.
When women of color come together to love, learn and struggle for justice, our work is sometimes dismissed as identity politics. But when the Combahee River Collective, those powerful sisters whose 1977 statement defined identity politics, wrote: “We realize that the only people who care enough about us to work consistently for our liberation is us,” they didn’t mean that we therefore work only for our own liberation. Instead they mapped out the many coalitions that women of color need in order to realize our visions of liberation for us all. In my experience of working with groups like the kick-ass feminist of color collective Incite! Women of Color Against Violence and my homegrrls at Black Women Birthing Justice, when women of color build together, we challenge systems of violence and domination that threaten our families, communities and ultimately all those around us.
Like to learn more? Please check out my book and essays on the black women’s movement in Britain, and women of color activism against the PIC.
Join Incite! Women of Color Against Violence and get involved in building toward the 2015 Bay Area conference.
Support Black Women Birthing Justice’s work to transform childbirth in the black community, and end disproportionate infant and maternal mortality.
Volunteer with Justice Now!, or California Coalition for Women Prisoners to work alongside incarcerated women to challenge conditions inside, fight for our children’s right to their families, and defend women’s right to healthcare, freedom from sterilization and to die with dignity and with loved ones.