The Millennial Womanism Project (TMWP) Presents “Millennial Womanists To Watch”
A monthly profile highlighting emerging voices doing incredible work in ministry, the academy and in social justice work.
Name: Imani Mitchell, Executive Director of Black Women United
City: Sacramento, CA
TMWP: What does it mean to be a millennial woman of African descent and activist?
Imani Mitchell: Being a Black millennial woman (regardless of activism) is such an interesting identity in itself. I have found myself not only grappling with family traditions, but also cultural and societal expectations that are often placed on Black women. So far, my experience as a Black millennial woman has been riddled with lessons and mistakes. When you add that extra layer of activism, our identities become even more complex. As James Baldwin said, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a rage almost all the time.” Being a Black woman while also attempting to do revolutionary and transformative work is often exhausting. For example, when we formed our non-profit organization Black Women United, many of us assumed that our community would automatically rally behind our efforts. We quickly learned that to be young, Black, and a woman in predominantly and historically Black male-led activist spaces was uncommon and disorienting for others. Whether it be the Women’s Suffrage Movement or the Civil Rights Movement, there is a constant erasure of Black women’s contributions and narratives and as Black millennial women, we deserve to be respected and heard while we make efforts in activism.
TMWP: Tell us about your work. What inspired you to do this work?
Imani Mitchell: Black Women United was formed a few months after the first Women’s March. Everyone knew about the Women’s March, whether it be the news, social media, mailings or word-of-mouth. Supposedly, women (everywhere) were uniting to protest Trump and stand in harmony as sisters. That all sounded great, yet some of us were cautious. When the local Sacramento Women’s March occurred, I battled with attending and finally decided to simply not go. I was annoyed that feminism continued to lack intersectionality and that women of color (and specifically Black women) were expected to join all of our sisters under this umbrella of being a ‘woman.’ As a result, we created the Black Women’s March – an event that was unapologetically designed to center, elevate and celebrate Black women in all of our glory. It was important that our march was inclusive of ALL Black women, especially our transgender Black sisters, and we remained intentional with our vision. We reminded our community that it was a space where Black women regardless of sexuality, religion, disability, class, or age were welcomed and supported.
TMWP: How does womanism inform your activism?
Imani Mitchell: Womanism is central to my activism and the core of Black Women United. Under womanism, we are allowed as Black women to embrace both our womanhood and also our cultural and racial identities. We are allowed a space where we can process our identity in all of its complexities and brilliance. Interestingly enough, the term “womanism” is still unheard of in many so-called progressive spaces. To make the distinction between being a feminist and a womanist is a revolutionary stance. While I think solidarity with non-Black women is important, it is also equally important to maintain our experiences and journeys as Black women. I firmly believe that the liberation of Black women cannot be found in modern-day feminism, and as long as we continue to fight for seats at a table that was never made for us, we will forever be undervalued and cheated.
TMWP: What can we expect from you within the next year?
Imani Mitchell: Black Women United is committed to hosting the annual Black Women’s March in Sacramento, CA and the next march will be held on Saturday, June 22, 2019. We invite everyone to attend this powerful and celebratory event. In addition to the march, we are expanding our organization which is extremely exciting! On the third Friday of each month, BWU will provide monthly meetings that are open to Black women. These meetings range from discussions on a certain issue, to workshops, to guest speakers, or even some activity. Also, with colder weather approaching, BWU will be discussing how we can assist our homeless Black sisters. We’ll be hosting a Thanksgiving Breakfast later in the year and also a networking event that will be used for Black women in the area to connect. And as always, BWU will remain supporters of Black female-led leadership within our community and show support and guidance whenever requested or needed.
TMWP: How can people support your work?
Imani Mitchell: Please visit our website and sign up on our mailing list to stay updated! Also, donations are always welcome. BWU is comprised of young Black women, some that are mothers, students, and full-time career women. We do this work because we have a passion and a dedication to Black women and we appreciate donations to help our ongoing efforts!
TMWP: Where can they go for more information and updates?
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/BWUSac
Below is a brief clip from the 2018 Black Women’s March! https://www.facebook.com/BWUSac/videos/1697686676933618/
Millennial Womanism is an emerging concept developed by Liz S Alexander and Melanie C Jones that seeks to draw upon a unique womanist epistemological and methodological framework utilizing a millennial lens.