Black Women's Improvement Project (BWIP)

Fresh Madame Noire: All About the BWE Movement

Call it the great-grandchild of feminism and womanism, Black Woman’s Empowerment (BWE for short) is a natural outgrowth of ideals brought forth by bell hooks “Aren’t I a Woman,” Paula Giddings’ “When and Where I Enter,” and Jacqueline Jones’ “Labor of Love” among many others. It’s filling the gap between how race and gender issues impact black women, tossed in with some “we’re mad as hell and we’re not taking it anymore!” and a dab of interracial dating advocacy. Add the virulence of blogging, Twitter and You Tube, and you have an honest-to-goodness groundswell of activism that goes out of the classroom and becomes accessible to everyone.

But these loose confederations of bloggers are going beyond just being angry about the lack of available and marriageable black men and the propensity for them not to marry the mothers of their children, or feeling salty about how black women are seen in the media as Mammy/Jezebel/Bitter Bitch (a la Pepsi Superbowl commercial) or being subjugated as mules. “BWE,” I believe is the next paradigmatic shift from recognizing and discussing the issues to actively changing, engaging and moving black women further into better lives,” says one blog commentator that goes by the name, ‘Monique.’

Instead of heading to the streets, fists pumping and bras burning, the protests have transitioned to the written word. They are quietly, and without much fanfare, dismantling traditional notions and freely giving advice to black women about how to live better and happier, blog by blog, tweet by tweet.

“Whenever you get a room full of black women, you automatically fuel discussions on the issues that affect us most. Social media is like that room. We’ve truly gotten the opportunity to hear each other, speak to each other, and work toward solving our issues,” says writer and film maker, Arielle Loren.

One of those “issues” primarily has to do with the dissatisfaction and hurt some black women feel from black men whom they say do little to protect and provide for them, while at the same time exploiting their resources and support without getting much in return. “Black men act as free agents in the presence of opportunity, not as people who place race concerns and race priorities in the forefront of their thoughts,” says an an online fact sheetdescribing BWE in detail.

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