Women’s History Month Edition
The history of struggle and revolution has never been without women. These revolutionary women have varying points of view, end goals, personalities and backgrounds that many of us can identify with. But sometimes their politics might differ slightly or you think you’re just too different to recognize your champion.
I found mine and I want to share who she is with you. It is Women’s History Month after all, right?
The spirit of Claudia Jones guides me to be a tool for change, resistance and progress for marginalized communities. She was a Trinidadian born, revolutionary communist and feminist who was heavily involved in grassroots activism. She became active in Harlem, New York and was involved in the Young Communist League, Congress of American Women, National Council of Negro Women.
She understood and used the power of her journalism to battle injustice. She encouraged Afro, Asian and Caribbean people to resist imperialism and global exploitation because of her Pan-African ideas. She recognized that class exploitation, white supremacy and male dominance all needed to be addressed all at once to prevent false consciousness. To me, Claudia sees the big picture and instead of giving up because the problems were so complicated and grand, she continuously pushed towards a “socialist America”.
She is known for popularizing the idea of triple oppression within The Communist Party. The idea explores how black women are at a three way hinge of gender oppression (often within the race), racism, AND class struggle. Whew! It also acknowledges that black women need to lead the fight for change in all these systems. Don’t assume she expects black women to do all the work but understand that white women only set out to accomplish political and socio-economic equality with white men. Likewise black men fail to understand that white supremacy doesn’t account for gender discrimination and/or abuse within a race (black or white). Also black women experience poverty different because of this triple oppression.
She strongly believed that black women had to do the work for themselves and not be afraid of taking the lead where black men or white women imagined responsibility.She shared her views on race and class as fascism within American capitalism knowing it would land her in jail. And it did. She was described as being left of Karl Marx because she believed capitalism alone didn’t account for sexism and racism. After her health deteriorated while incarcerated she was released and later deported to England. She died in London and is buried literally left of Karl Marx in Highgate cemetery. Her ideas were so well rounded, thought out and studied that you HAVE to at least read her most popular work, An End To The Neglect of The Problems of The Negro Woman.
I smiled reading about this incredible woman because I saw so much of myself in her. Sometimes I question my efforts for social change in the US when my home country has problems of it’s own. Claudia Jones’ life, however, revitalizes me and serves as a reminder that problems must be tackled at the intersection. American influence over the global south gains it’s power from capitalism so it must be uprooted…and then progress can happen around the world. At least I think so.
Claudia may (or may not, that’s cool) hit you as close but there are thousands of women to draw inspiration, guidance and knowledge from. Before March is up and we’re on to pulling cruel “pranks” on people, find your revolutionary heroine. Tell me who it is and why in the comments. #revolutionaryheroinechallenge
Notes taken from my brain & Lynn, Denise. “Socialist Feminism and Triple Oppression: Claudia Jones and African American Women in American Communism.” Journal for the Study of Radicalism, vol. 8, no. 2, 2014, pp. 1–20., www.jstor.org/stable/10.14321/jstudradi.8.2.0001.