Hope Lewis


In this brief essay, I illustrate how Critical Race Feminist analysis could reconceptualize the human rights problems facing “Inter/national Black women” --in this case, Black women who migrate between the United States and Jamaica. This focus on Jamaican American migrants is very personal as well as political; I was raised by Jamaican American women. However, I have begun to focus on such women in my research not only in a search for “home” but also because there are important lessons to be learned from those who are the least visible in the legal literature. I draw the framework for a Critical Race Feminist human rights analysis from a number of sources: Third World and global feminism; critical race theory; and human rights activism and theory. Such a framework places the specific needs and objectives of women of color at the center, rather than at the margins, of the analysis. It seeks to normalize the concerns and needs of women of color as being of key significance, rather than as exceptional. The approach extends the insights of feminist legal analysis. It acknowledges the transparency of divides between public and private spheres and between political and socioeconomic rights. Further, the framework is transnational in perspective because the concerns of women of color increasingly are cross-border concerns. Women of color struggle to survive within their own rural villages, urban centers, and nation-states, but their hard-won participation at these levels can be undermined by the global fluidity of capital and culture. Finally, a Critical Race Feminist human rights analysis is rooted firmly in the idea of solidarity with other anti-racist, anti-sexist, and anti-classist struggles for social justice and human dignity. This lofty commitment also requires prospective strategies to be pragmatic, as well as theoretical, and multi-level, as well as targeted at single centers of oppression. It requires a difficult process of building coalitions among women and men who sometimes resist seeing their common interests.

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