Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

28 April 2008

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, whatever...it 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

12 comments:

You continue to impress me, chica. Thanks for sticking around. I know how much you've influenced me and I appreciate it greatly.

THANK YOU for writing this. Thank you for not letting any racists run you out of the feminist movement. I'm a WOC as well and I am very proud to call myself a feminist.

I am glad there are WOC feminists out there like you who will not give up the fight, when I've seen other WOC declare that they're leaving the feminist movement.

Sigh.

Once again-- THANK YOU

I just read your message on the yahoo group but can't find an e-mail address for you. Would you mind contacting me at marykatenj(at)gmail.com? I am a NJ Mom blogger and have a quick question for you. Thanks!

Saw your comment at feministe
re: the feministe Vogue bitching about Vogue cover
If you were basketball fans, instead of women, you’d know that far from being a put up job by racist Vogue editors, LeBron probably made the face himself, naturally. Its one of his signature “grimaces” after he scores or makes a big play:
Lebron photo
that was on the first page of google images, I’ll wager there are 50 more where that came from. I’ve seen him do it dozens of times, and they don’t telecast Cavs games down here very often, I’m a transplanted Ohioan in Florida. He’s becoming such a big star, they might start, though, thankfully.

But still, if you want to make something out of nothing, or assign motives where they don’t exist, I’m sure this won’t stop you.

Normally I'd delete such an asinine comment as yours Mr. weasel (perfect handle, btw), but since you show such ignorance to whom you are speaking to, I'll leave it up because it makes me laugh. I might not live & die by basketball, but I know the game.

Jeez, do you suppose weasel-dude tracked down every single commenter's blog and tried to pick a fight? What an asshat.

Anyway, just found your blog, and am bookmarking it.

"if you were basketball fans, instead of women" - that's hilarious! because of course there are no women who are basketball fans! or if they are basketeball fans they have checked their womanhood at the door!

nor, apparently, are there womens basketball teams.

keep 'em comin' flyboy, i still need to reach my daily quota of LOLs.....

The past few months have not been kind to multi-racial alliances.

At an important labor reform conference near Detroit, a nasty physical confrontation broke out because of a bitter rivalry between two health care unions.

The fallout from the Democratic primary racial politics has reached deep into many progressive organizations.

More recently, we've seen how the perplexing intersection of race, class and gender oppression has affected the feminist blogosphere.

Growing and expanding multi-racial alliances is one of the hardest things to do here in the USA.

It's not only the deeply personal ways that our twisted racial history has shaped us as individuals that is the problem.

Multiracial alliances have traditionally been seen as radical threats to the socio-economic status quo. Truth be told, they are a threat to the status quo and rightfully so.

All we have to do is take a short trip through US history to see how multi-racial alliances have been subjected to severe and often violent repression by the "powers that be" aided by our less enlightened citzenry.

The irony is that the more successful we are at building them, the more resistance we can expect to face.

We can't build strong alliances by sweeping problems under the rug. We've had a rough ride recently, but some people are working hard to fix the problems.

It may be a dirty job, but somebody has to do it.

Veronica is one of those somebodies who not afraid to pitch in and get her hands dirty.

So Viva La Feminista!

Thanks everyone, esp Bob for your kind words.

Awesome post. Over the last few weeks, I too have been disheartened at how WOC have been rejecting feminism left and right.

I'll always be a feminist, and I'll always be chicana. I don't know how to NOT be both.

I just came across your blog and LOVED your entry! Much love from your ally here in Idaho! :)

Nina