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Barbara Smith, Activist Who Coined the Term 'Identity Politics,' Endorses Bernie Sanders

The founding member of the Combahee River Collective also endorsed Sanders in 2016.

As the Democratic primaries inch closer, more and more public figures are announcing their endorsements. On Monday, one of America's most prominent Black feminist scholars announced her choice.

According to The Root, Barbara Smith has announced her support of Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Smith is a founding member of the Combahee River Collective, a socialist Black feminist group active in the mid-1970s. Group members included scholars like Audre Lorde and Akasha Hull.

"Bernie Sanders' political commitment most closely reflects and align[s] with political commitments that I’ve had throughout my life,” she told The Root.

Sanders faced critique during his 2016 campaign for not having a race-specific platform. However, Smith believes Sanders' platform fits her philosophical framework.

"When we use the term 'identity politics,' we are asserting that black women had a right to determine our own political agendas," Smith continued. "That didn't mean we didn't care about other people's situations of injustice. We absolutely did not mean that we would work with people who were only identical to ourselves."

Smith and her fellow members broke away from mainstream feminist movements, making a point to include queer women and class analysis in their work.

"We strongly believed in coalitions and working with people across various identities on common problems," Smith said. "I think that the Sanders campaign and the candidate himself are absolutely consistent with what we meant by identity politics."

“He has a much deeper understanding of what the situation is, why we have injustice and inequality and oppression and discrimination. He [has] the most incisive, sharpest understanding of where all that comes from.”

Democratic primaries begin with tonight's Iowa Caucus.

SOURCE: The Root