This Latina is still a feminist

As a woman of color I've always occupied an awkward place in this large movement called feminism. Yet at the same time, I've always occupied an awkward place in life itself. Friends & long time readers know that in high school, my academic track was made up of 95% Caucasian students and the 5% of us who weren't were rarely in each other's classes. And perhaps that is why my feminism was created in a place where race was an issue, but not the focus either.

I will always claim to be born a feminist. I can't remember a click moment and always had this intrinsic knowledge that being a girl did not mean that I had to sit on the sidelines. Any discrimination I felt growing up centered around being a girl or being working class. In my world it was mostly a gender & class thing to fight against. When my feminist consciousness was being formed in high school, I was leading our Amnesty International chapter. Women's rights was about human rights. Black, white, Latina, Chinese, was all the same in my head. That's not to say that I didn't acknowledge racism in the world and around me...It just never seemed to be that racism was holding me back. Being placed in a lower math class in 7th grade? Sexism. Having to drop out of Model UN? Classism. Perhaps I enjoyed being the only Latina in my circle of classmates too much to notice the racism? When we picked a name for our Rube Goldberg team we went with something about a bunch of Asians, Caucasians, and then there was Vern. Vern was my high school nickname. Enter college at a very diverse campus and where women's studies was taught from a global perspective. We really did the whole "Think Global, Act Local" thing in terms of feminism.

So watching the implosion of feminism online with the two Marcotte fiascos, the two Seal Press debacles, and the blog-icides (can't recall which blog I read that term on) is totally heartbreaking to me. But what is most heartbreaking and heart wrenching is the dismissal of feminism by women of color.

After college and I entered the real world and got a job (in a feminist office) and starting volunteering off-campus with feminist groups, that's when the racism shit started to fly. So I've been there. Been the token who works her ass off and gets shafted in the end. Was accused to stealing a speaking engagement when the group specifically asked for me. La-de-da, Ms. JD.

So what keeps me coming back to feminism?

It's my home. Despite its flaws, calling myself a feminist is the truth. Each movement has its own devils to wrestle with - but that is an individual thing. Feminism the philosophy, transcends the bullshit and comforts me. And I refuse to let racism define feminism for me.

I refuse to be run out of the movement.
I refuse to let racists have total access to the soapbox, even if their soapboxes are larger, cooler, and get more ears.
I refuse to be silenced.

That said, the attacks on my fellow WOC bloggers have gone so ugly that I do not begrudge them from taking a break. I do not hate them for throwing off the feminist cape. To each their own. I just know that it's tad bit lonelier here than a few weeks ago.

I am thankful for my anti-racist friends who see the issues and have my back. Allies are essential to this movement.

Bottomline...I think that feminism will save the world. No other movement can hold racists and hyper-masculinists (is there a better term for that?) accountable at the same time. No other movement can look at the crap that we're getting in the Democratic primary and tsk BOTH sides equally.

And honestly...if I left feminism, I don't know how I would survive, where I could go, because seriously, feminism frames almost everything in my life. I do not see the world thru a feminist or gender lens, I see it thru a feminist eye implant. It's there and can't be removed.

Technorati tags: feminism, racism, classism, WOC, women of color