(The French version can be found here)
“What kind of society have we created for ourselves?”
Stella Gibson, Tambourine Army
Since 2012, we have been working to make our homes and communities in Montreal safer, more accountable, and more love-filled for Black women and our children. Being consistently asked to witness and share platforms and stages with known Black men who rape and harm our sisters, has compelled us to issue this statement. Sadly, even in Black activist and intellectual communities, sexual assault remains the issue that folks are unwilling to challenge.
We are a collective of survivors, led by Black women and supported by the beloved work of transformative justice practitioners in our wider community. We are mothers, sisters, daughters, god-mothers, other mothers, aunties, birth practitioners, community workers, and scholars. We stand on the shoulders of our Black feminist foremothers and sister-ancestors who have shown us how to do the work that we do in our communities. We honor those in death with our lives and our work in the present.
Importantly, we closely study the work of Black women—such as Marie Vieux, Barbara Smith, Pumla Dineo Gqola, Beth Richie, Nefertari Bélizaire, Stella Gibson—who have worked to develop an intersectional analysis of gendered violence and state violence. We depend on this canon of work as a way of knowing in the world, as our embodied Black feminist epistemology. Undergirded by this collection of work by Black feminist thinkers, we build upon Black feminist histories and theories that are instructive for those of us who work close to the ground.
Yet, we are clear about the shortcomings of Black feminism in North America historically in failing to develop an analysis of the histories of gendered violence that have infiltrated our Black radical traditions for the last 50 years. Black radical cultural and intellectual traditions are inherently spaces where Black freedom is both imagined and theorized, and we acknowledge our intellectual and spiritual kinship with these traditions. Yet, as radical Black feminists, we also note the glaring, normative historic silences pertaining to our lives, bodies, and spirits within these traditions. We note the ongoing violence against us within these traditions. As such, the Third Eye Collective pays particular attention in our activism and work to the histories of complicity within our formal and informal learning spaces in sustaining violence against Black women. With this activist spirit, we offer the following statement as a manifesto of naming, truth-telling, and change-making so that our work as Black intellectuals and activists can proceed unimpeded by the trauma of violence that continues to plague us whenever we step into a classroom, lecture hall, conference space, or reading group and encounter Black men, unchecked, who have harmed us.
Simply, we have had enough.