During the past year, my participation in events has decreased. Due to the pandemic, most events are online. As a student, I have long hours of lectures, reading, and writing, so sitting extra time in front of a computer is not that gratifying. However, when my friend, Yesmith Sánchez, invited me to the panel discussion Black Feminism and culture in the Nordics: Who gets to be heard, I decided to attend because of three reasons. First, because as a black feminist and activist I think it’s necessary to hear and learn from other experiences. Second, I am researching a gap based on feminism for my master thesis. Third, it’s important to continue networking regardless that it is online.
The panel discussion was moderated by Jasmine Kelakey, an Afro Finish-Swedish, who is an activist focused on anti-black racism and black activism in the Nordics. The guest speakers of the panel were Monica Gathuo, a digital media producer for black women in Finland, and co-coordinator of the Anti-Racism Media Activist Alliance (ARMA); Judith Kiros, based in Sweden, a poet, literature scholar, journalist, who also had participated in several anti-black platforms; Phyllis Akinyi, a Danish- Kenyan choreographer, dancer, performer and researcher; and Deise Faira Nunes, who is based in Norway and is an art researcher, performance practitioner, and freelance writer. The event was organized by the Astra journal and Nordic Culture Point (information taken from the event).
The five brilliant, lovely, and strong black women are from different backgrounds and countries; however, something they all have in common is that black feminism is a stone foundation for their work and lifestyle.
Different background scenarios such as coffees shop, plants and books, map on the wall, or simply a white wall, were the scenes of these women who talked about the fundamental of understanding black feminism, why it’s necessary to be heard, seen, and spoken to make a difference.
Here are some points raised during the discussion:
- Black feminism has its roots in the United State of America; however, they are other black women groups in many corners of the globe. E.g. Caribbean, Brazilian etc.
- Black feminism is a pillar for our foundation and thus tells the stories that need to be heard.
- Experience of “othering” is not the same here in the Nordics as across the Atlantic Ocean.
- Black feminism is an inspiration for solidarity, building communities, bringing joy to our lives, and making changes. It is not only about our struggles.
- The Black Live Matters manifestation that took place last year in the Nordic countries gave a huge push for a deeper discussion about black topics and the change of black narrative; nevertheless, it is a transit moment that can burn us out. It is important to remember that this moment will dissolve but we will continue being black.
- The language that is used about black feminism needs to change, develop, and take into consideration research and dictionaries that are done by others.
- How does representation need to be approached, should we continue to play the game of the systems or focus on our own?
- Blackness is not homogenous, regardless weather we have similarities, we also have differences.
- Scandinavian countries are categorized as democratic and have high freedom of speech; however, the issue of racism is present, there is a lack of awareness but also denial. The mainstream or public discourse narratives argue that racism occurs in the USA, but not here.
- The four panelists hope that the struggle, fight and actions they are doing today may be beneficial for the future generation, and that the situation may be different and better for them.
“I can’t separate myself from black feminism, I am a black feminism,” said Phyllis Akinyi. If you are eager to hear and learn more about the topics, please watch the panel discussion here.
Photo by the event.