Author and activist Feminista Jones discussed black feminism and argued that black women are the initiators of social media movements at a Penn Book Center reading Tuesday night.
Jones, a Philadelphia-based social worker and feminist writer, read sections from her new book “Reclaiming Our Space: How Black Feminists Are Changing the World from the Tweets to the Streets," which was published in January 2019. In the book, Jones defines black feminism as she sees it and explains how new social media platforms have empowered black women.
“Black feminism inherently advocates for black men, disabled black folks, queer black folks, fat black folks, black folks who pray, and black folks who have found another way,” Jones said.
She also discussed black feminists' role as initiators of social media movements, such as #BlackLivesMatter, #SayHerName, and #BlackGirlMagic. Specifically, she said the structure of Twitter has allowed black women to dominate the platform.
"Black women are successful on Twitter because it was built on 'call and response,' the natural inherent communication style of black women," Jones said, referencing Twitter's retweet system.
“Most of our modern movements were created by black feminist women," Jones added.
She added that new platforms have allowed black women to express themselves without erasure.
“Social media has helped black women develop community across the globe that we have never been able to do," Jones said. "This is what empowers us to start these movements and make these cultural shifts."
Event attendee Samuelle Voltaire, a second-year social work master's student in the School of Social Policy & Practice and a first-year public health master's student in the Perelman School of Medicine, said Jones' definition of black feminism is significant because it “inherently advocates for so many interjections of black identities."
Voltaire added that as a social work student, she wants to learn more about black feminism's role and importance in society.
Alice Wang, a second-year master's student studying social work in SP2 and education in the Graduate School of Education, said Jones is doing important work by "honoring the true history” of social movements and making black women more visible.
“I think that creating more space for more choice and more freedom in terms of what it means to be a black woman in this country is essential," Wang added.
Jones explained that she wrote the book “as a living statement to the living history being made right now.”
“We can no longer deny that black women are currently shaping how culture expands and grows,” Jones said.