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Authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie And Zadie Smith Discuss Feminism, Beyonce, Race, And ‘Americanah’

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Mar. 21 2014, Published 7:01 a.m. ET

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Authors Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Zadie Smith came together for a dynamic conversation on feminism, race, hair, and of course, a bit of Beyonce at the Schomburg Center in Harlem.

Fresh off of winning the National Book Critics Circle prize for fiction for her latest book Americanah, Adichie participated in the conversation as part of her national book tour.

They delved into topics including Americanah and black hair, the representation of back women in magazines and in the media, race, Barack Obama and Michelle Obama,  sexuality, and Beyonce.

Here’s a snippet, highlighted in a post from Madame Noire:

Adichie: “I think the world views you differently and how things are read differently. For example, Beyoncé, so she chooses to own her sexuality and there’s somehow something bad, just deeply bad about it. It just seems to me like the white version of Beyoncé wouldn’t have that kind of response.

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If a woman is sexually overt is she still feminist? It’s a question, obviously for me, the answer is yes. But also in a larger sense, I’m not interested in policing feminism either. I just have such a problem with the idea of people saying things like, ‘oh she’s not feminist because of blah blah blah.’ Whoever says they’re feminist is bloody feminist [laughs]. And I just feel like we live in a world where more people need to be saying it and we shouldn’t be looking to pull people out of the feminist party [laughs]. And I think the reason I find myself reacting so strongly to questions of female sexuality is, there’s something very disturbing to me about the idea that a woman’s sexuality somehow is not hers. So when there are certain feminists who will say, it’s about the male gaze, it’s for the man, there’s something of a self-censoring about that that’s similar to what they’re fighting. So as long as women have the choice…why shouldn’t women own their sexuality? Why shouldn’t a woman who does whatever with her sexuality identify as feminist? I’ve just always found that very troubling. It’s almost unfeminist to make that argument that if you shake your booty, you’re not feminist.”

Watch the full conversation above. Which part of the conversation do you connect with the most?

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Rhonesha Byng is the founder and CEO of Her Agenda— a digital media platform bridging the gap between ambition and achievement for millennial women. The site provides access to content and community that gives millennial women access to information and inspiration to help them get started or to move to the next level of their career. Rhonesha is an Emmy award-winning journalist and entrepreneur whose philosophy in life is established by her acronym of N.E.S.H.A. No one Ever Slows Her Agenda. This motto served as the inspiration for Her Agenda. Rhonesha was named to the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list and ESSENCE magazine named her among 50 Founders To Watch. Rhonesha is also the co-founder of the newly formed nonprofit org The Black Owned Media Equity and Sustainability Institute (BOMESI).

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