am i a woman of color?

September 27, 2009 § 4 Comments

am i a woman of color?

on one hand that seems like an obvious answer…yes…

and for most of my life i have thought the same thing

if i was talking to a group of white feminists.  working class and lower middle class white feminists.  and they told me that they had so much to deal with in their own lives they did not have the time or energy to deal with the how i was dealing with life being a woman of color.  that yes the personal is political.  but personally they just didnt know what to do about the woc thing i go through daily and if i would just tell them what i wanted them to do then they will consider if they can afford to see my issues as vital to the community.  if that is what they told me.  i would probably tell them to go fuck themselves and refuse to associate myself with their movement.

because they dont consider me to be a part of their movement.

the whole- all of us are equal just some people are more equal than others.

well, actually that is what i did.  i told them to go fuck themselves.  and refused to be called or call myself a feminist.  for a decade.

even now i squirm under the title.

now i know it isnt fair to compare women of color to clueless white feminist.  except that it is fair.

i called myself a woman of color because i loved how it put me in solidarity with women of color all over the world.  i loved the way that it proclaimed that we are the majority.  that our differences, all of the different cultures that women create all around the world.  is what keeps the world spinning and circling the sun.

but most third world women dont use the term women of color.  ive more heard terms like: third world women, non-western women, women in the developing world, etc. etc.  maybe ‘women of color’ is a designation for western/first world non-white women.

by that idea i am a woman of color.  and being a woc does not indicate that i am in solidarity with third world women. any more than being a feminist means that you are in solidarity with women of color or third world women. it does state implicitly that i am responsible to and accountable to third world women.  and the best way i have found to be in solidarity with white women as white, is to refuse to do anti racism 101.  to stop feeding the beast.

these thoughts arent completed.  this is not a manifesta.  it is me trying to figure out where i fit into the world.  and where is my community.

lately i have been experimenting being in community with the universe and arguing with the stars.

but on planet earth.  i havent really been writing a lot publicly cuz anything i say can get twisted to fit into someone else’s fears and then drama occurs.  and frankly i got enough drama in this life already.  i got enough people who twist my words into a fantasy.

§ 4 Responses to am i a woman of color?

  • Aaminah says:

    i am TOTALLY feeling you on this. i identify as a woc but have never been wholly comfortable with it. i use it as an identifier amongst white people to clarify that i’m not just another white convert to islam, but am actually a woman of color with emotions/politics/concerns beyond just being a muslim, and certainly beyond being a relatively privileged muslim. amongst poc i’ve had to assert that i am a woc simply because they tend to look at me and see a white woman and tell me that i could pass and i “choose” to other myself by the way i dress. but to tell you the truth, i’m really tired of identity politics anyway. i have long been tired of the need to label myself to make other people understand me. and even then, there’s always someone who tells me that i’m “not really”. and yes, even woc can make us feel like we don’t belong with them, like our needs are incomprehensible to them, especially if we have opinions/thoughts/needs that aren’t exactly the same as theirs. i mean, hey, i identify as NDN and have never lied that i’m also Scots-Irish… but there are still people who come at me with “you aren’t even a full blood”, which is pretty ridiculous since there are very few truly pure full-blood anything. and like you, i don’t want to take on labels just because. i think that anything i call myself should reflect… more. it should reflect alliances, concerns, etc. but maybe i don’t really want to “call myself” anything. maybe i just want to be. maybe my alliances should be evident in other ways than a few words i use to describe myself.

  • Isabel says:

    ok so i apologize in advance if you are weirded out by the fact that i remember a 2-comment blog exchange from several months ago, and if it’s weird to bring it up in this comment, but, well, here we go. we had an exchange once on this blog about how i identify as white & latina/puerto rican, and ah, here it is – sorry to be even weirder and actually look it up but i wanted to see if it was like i remembered it being, which it more or less was: http://guerrillamamamedicine.wordpress.com/2009/04/19/in-response-to-passing-or-not/ ). i remember feeling like there was some sort of communication breakdown happening, and coming back to that question of why i didn’t identify as a poc, & why i didn’t feel like that was letting whites decide who was or wasn’t a poc, for a couple weeks actually. i kept meaning to reply somehow but couldn’t come up with an answer.

    but eventually i sort of did (literally like, weeks later, i seriously thought about this a lot), & it was, i think, maybe kind of linked to what you’re getting at in this post – if my family had stayed in puerto rico instead of moving when i was three, there wouldn’t be any question, in puerto rico, of whether or not i was white. i would just be white, and also puerto rican the way i am american, or a new yorker, now. my latinaness wouldn’t be a marker the way it is in the US. so to me, saying, yes you are a woc because you’re puerto rican, that felt like a US-centric way of looking at things, which confused me because you’re like the most internationally-oriented blogger i know, and also maybe it’s still wrong – i like you am still figuring this all out for myself – but it’s like, that’s asking me to adopt the US view of race, or that’s how it felt. i don’t know. i guess i’m just trying to say that, yes, these terms have different meanings, or no meanings, in different contexts. and it’s complicated.

  • Isabel says:

    ok one more apology – sorry if that comment came across like, i dunno, ha you see??? or something – i meant it less like bringing up an old conversation into a new one and more like continuing the same conversation (very slowly).

  • mama says:

    yeah i think i am getting past the point of identity politics. does that make me post-identity politics? ha ha
    isabel, i can see what you are saying about identifying as a poc because you are from pr is pretty us-centered. i like the way that you are centering your racial identity in pr rather than in the us. i havent heard it articulated that way before thanks. it reminds me of this post…hold on…i tumbled it yesterday…http://guerrillamamamedicine.tumblr.com/post/199816020/revolution-of-the-lilies

    and here is the original art. on ill vox
    http://illvox.org/2008/06/why-the-emphasis-on-white-skin-privilege-is-white-chauvinist/

    which doesnt directly speak to the question of who identifies as a woman of color.
    but it does sort of speak to how to move past these questions of racial identity to addressing racism and colonization.

    aaminah,
    yeah im looking for a difft way to work. looking for a way outside of or beyond woc organizing. transnational organizing. not sure. not really sure what i am reaching for….

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