In the 21st century, Black women have been at the center of digital communication and activism. The Black feminist movement has moved into the global realm of humanistic thought and experience, due to the unrelenting work of Black women who continuously shared their articulation of deep historical and innovative modern knowledge. The term “misogynoir,” which describes “anti-Black and misogynistic representation[s] shap[ing] broader ideas about Black women, particularly in visual culture and digital spaces,” according to the NYU Press, was coined and widely spread via social media, first becoming viral, then growing into a legitimate term that has been documented and used in educational arenas. Tarana Burke’s #MeToo hashtag created a new paradigm that changed the world, highlighting rape culture in film and media realms, tearing down the toxic reign of film mogul and gatekeeper, Harvey Weinstein.
Nonetheless, long before the advent of social media, Black women have been using media platforms like newspapers, pamphlets and microphones to spread their political and socially aware messages. Here are two books that explore the potency of Black women’s voices and the usage of digital media to change culture forever.
“Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance” by Moya Bailey (NYU Press)
Moya Bailey, associate professor at Northwestern University and the creator of the term “misogynoir,” expands on her globally game-changing concern of the cultural abuses of Black women in the digital landscapes with her book “Misogynoir Transformed: Black Women’s Digital Resistance.” “At a time when Black women are depicted as more ugly, deficient, hypersexual, and unhealthy than their non-Black counterparts, Bailey explores how Black women have bravely used social-media platforms to confront misogynoir in a number of courageous—and, most importantly, effective—ways,” writes NYU Press. This book is an essential resource regarding the power and persistence of Black women’s social media engagement to disrupt their problematic mistreatment by highlighting abuses and refusing to back away from correcting misinformation and misrepresentation.
“Digital Black Feminism: Critical Cultural Communication” by Catherine Knight Steele (NYU Press)
Assistant professor of communication at the University of Maryland – College Park, Catherine Knight Steele writes a historical account of Black women’s intelligent usage of various forms of communication including social media to create space for their voices and influence. NYU Press describes, “‘Digital Black Feminism’ walks readers through the technical skill, communicative expertise, and entrepreneurial acumen of Black women’s labor—born of survival strategies and economic necessity—both on and offline.” Spanning from the 20th to the 21st century, the book ties the documentation of articles and essays by Black feminists to the bloggers and social media mavens of today. “To truly ‘listen to Black women,’ Steele points to the history of Black feminist technoculture in the United States and its ability to decenter white supremacy and patriarchy in a conversation about the future of technology.”
Note: Journalist Jordannah Elizabeth highlighted “Digital Black Feminism”in August 2021.