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Black feminism, also known as Afro-feminism chiefly outside the United States, is a branch of feminism that focuses on the African-American woman's experiences and recognizes the intersectionality of racism and sexism. Black feminism also acknowledges the additional marginalization faced by black women due to their social identity.
Black feminism philosophy centers on the idea that "Black women are inherently valuable, that [Black women's] liberation is a necessity not as an adjunct to somebody else's but because of our need as human persons for autonomy."
According to Black feminism, race, gender, and class discrimination are all aspects of the same system of hierarchy, which bell hooks calls the "imperialist white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy." Due to their inter-dependency, they combine to create something more than experiencing racism and sexism independently. The experience of being a Black woman, then, cannot be grasped in terms of being Black or of being a woman but must be illuminated via intersectionality, a term coined by legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989. Intersectionality indicates that each identity—being Black and being female—should be considered both independently and for their interaction effect, in which intersecting identities deepen, reinforce one another, and potentially lead to aggravated forms of inequality.
A Black feminist lens in the United States was first employed by Black women to make sense of how white supremacy and patriarchy interacted to inform the particular experiences of enslaved Black women. Black activists and intellectuals formed organizations such as the National Association of Colored Women (NACW) and the National Council of Negro Women (NCNW). Black feminism rose to prominence in the 1960s, as the civil rights movement excluded women from leadership positions, and the mainstream feminist movement largely focused its agenda on issues that predominately impacted middle-class White women. From the 1970s to 1980s, Black feminists formed groups that addressed the role of Black women in Black nationalism, gay liberation, and second-wave feminism. In the 1990s, the Anita Hill controversy brought Black feminism into the mainstream. Black feminist theories reached a wider audience in the 2010s as a result of social-media advocacy.
Proponents of Black feminism argue that Black women are positioned within structures of power in fundamentally different ways than White women. In the early 21st century, the tag white feminist gained currency to criticize feminists who avoid issues of intersectionality.
Among the notions that evolved out of the Black feminist movement are Alice Walker's womanism and historical revisionism with an increased focus on Black women.[page needed] bell hooks, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Angela Davis, and Patricia Hill Collins have emerged as leading academics on Black feminism, while Black celebrities have encouraged mainstream discussion of Black feminism.