The Pantherettes in the Black Panther Party were “allowed” a voice, when White Women were not…really.

Given the racist and patriarchal patterns of the state, it is difficult to envision the state as the holder of solutions to the problem of violence against women of color. However, as the anti-violence movement has been institutionalized and professionalized, the state plays an increasingly dominant role in how we conceptualize and create strategies to minimize violence against women. ~Angela Davis

“To understand how any society functions you must understand the relationship between the men and the women.” -Angela Davis

No matter how you look at the Black Panther Party (because of the controversy in violent tactics) at the root, it was a powerful grassroots activist movement seeking to further the civil right’s of every American, not just for white and/or privileged Americans. They sought to end racism AND sexism. The Panthers and Pantherettes were brothers and sisters. They fought alongside each other and it was an egalitarian subculture; much more so than mainstream America in the 60’s, when women were meant to be homemakers and live a mindless, obligatory existence for the sole purpose of serving others (husband and children).

Let me put this title into context. In the subculture of the Black Panther Party and Black Liberation Movement during the era of the Civil Rights, the women had stature, presence and perhaps, almost as much power as the men did in this movement (especially Angela Davis). These Pantherettes’ voices were heard, encouraged, and they said whatever the hell they wanted.  In these two cultures (white and black) which were world’s apart but slightly co-existed in America during the Civil Rights Revolution, this positive aspect of the movement was often overlooked. Women in the Black Panther Party were fighting for women’s rights, and they were fighting with their voices, their passion to end inequity and to establish basic human rights. These women were an integral, critical influence in the feminist/women’s rights movement. We should not overlook this for any reason. While a majority of white (socially accepted but in their own ways still very much oppressed) women were home being good homemakers, unhappy in their own existence, these black women were at the dangerous activist forefront of establishing more freedom and rights for women of every color. And make no mistake, there were also white and brown women right by their sides.

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One thought on “The Pantherettes in the Black Panther Party were “allowed” a voice, when White Women were not…really.

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