Charlene Carruthers discusses storytelling and oppression during Gender & Sexuality Series on Black feminist ethics and relationality

Charlene Carruthers in front of a brick wall.

Courtesy of Gender and Sexuality Studies Program

Charlene Carruthers addressed Black feminist ethics and relationality as part of a Gender and Sexuality speaker series.

Joanna Hou, Copy Editor

The Gender & Sexuality Studies speaker series on Black Feminist Praxis featured a Q&A Wednesday with African American Studies Ph.D. student Charlene Carruthers, who centered the event around Black feminist ethics and relationality.

Carruthers is a writer and filmmaker. She authored the book “Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements” in 2018, spent 15 years organizing social justice movements related to race and gender and founded the Black Youth Project 100 to combat gender violence in the Black community.

Her talk focused on different intersections between storytelling and oppression.

“Literature has been a significant portal for me to understand myself and the world that I live in,” Carruthers said. “I am in a moment right now where I’m thinking about myself as a storyteller. How do I go about gathering the information I find necessary to tell the stories that I’m yearning to tell about Black people’s lives?” 

She said too often, Black stories are incomplete. Though she’s spent a long time organizing people, Carruthers said now is the time for her to home in her skills as a historian and filmmaker to further the Black liberation movement as a whole.

She added that eradicating oppression is a never-ending goal. She said oppression has existed through time and will continue to exist even after her lifetime. However, she said Black feminist ethics could help her dismantle as many oppressive systems as possible. 

Carruthers also said liberation requires transformation — either as a society or individually — and that abolition and liberation are ongoing processes.

“I need a lot more than just the end of the world to end anti-Blackness or any other forms of oppression,” Carruthers said. “I want a lot more than that because I don’t think that the end of the world is enough because the same things might happen again.” 

Carruthers then dove into a range of topics on dismantling oppression. Specifically, she discussed the economic tourism dependency in the Bahamas as an example of capitalism creating classism and exploitation. For these reasons, she said tackling capitalistic systems is an important goal of hers. 

The event was hosted by History and Gender & Sexuality Studies Prof. Tessie Liu,  who said she was blown away by the ideas Carruthers proposed. 

“More than one of the things I most admire about your speaking and your writing is actually how precise you are,” Liu said. “The way you define feminism, the way you define evolution in your book and the way you define ethics, Black feminist ethics and relationality … you nailed it.” 

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