YWCA Southeast Wisconsin
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March 2017

By Beth Godbee, faculty member at Marquette University

Refueling with Feminists of Color

March is Women's History Month. This year we celebrated International Women's Day through "A Day Without a Woman" and #WomenStrike. Against this backdrop of marches and strikes, I’d like to invite you to make explicit the commitment to racial justice as a commitment to all women.

As a white woman committed to racial justice, I see March as a time to center and connect with the voices, intellectual contributions, and leadership of women of color. This means looking to and learning from the writing, art, and activism that feminists and womanists of color share in the world. It means getting fired up with visions of the “ought to be.” It means exploring white racial privilege/power and imagining different ways of seeing, being, and doing.

With these goals in mind, I’d like to suggest three (of many!) ways we can learn from feminists and womanists of color.

1. Read books by feminists and womanists of color.

There are many important books, but I return to a few “classics” again and again—for inspiration, for grounding, for critical orientation, and for building emotional resilience. These include:

GloriaAnzaldúa’s Borderlands/LaFrontera

bell hooks’s Feminism Is for Everybody

Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider

Chandra Mohanty’s Feminism Without Borders

Alice Walker’s In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens

2. Read feminist and womanist blogs that feature writers of color.

In addition to reading the YWCA’s monthly blog, I follow a number of blogs featuring the voices, lived experiences, news, and reflections of writers of color. Here are three I particularly enjoy:

For Harriet—"celebrating the fullness of Black womanhood”

Crunk Feminist Collective—a rhetorical space for “hip hop generation feminists of color, queer and straight, in the academy and without”

The Sistah Vegan Project—“a critical race feminist’s journey through the ‘post racial’ ethical foodscape…and beyond”

3. Attend events that value intersectionality.

I also crave time for thinking, learning, and acting with and alongside others. The YWCA’s mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women” is inherently intersectional, so YWCA events highlight the always-related work for racial and gender justice. Just look at the upcoming events in this newsletter, including the conference “Racial Justice: The Courage to Act” and this year’s Stand Against Racism focused on “Women of Color Leading Change.”

Beyond books, blogs, and events, there are many other media created by feminists and womanists of color. For example, you might watch Ava DuVernay’s 13th and Jacqueline Olive’s Always in Season. Or listen to the Black Girl Dangerous Podcast. Or try TED talks like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “The Danger of a Single Story” or Kimberlé Crenshaw’s “The Urgency of Intersectionality.”

So, why do I center feminism when making choices about where to put time and energy? Because feminism is an ever-evolving movement to end oppression, including sexism, racism, and other –isms. Feminism is a movement for unlearning internalized oppression and supremacy. Feminism is movement that asks us to understand injustice and to enact more equitable and just worlds.

I hope the books, blogs, and events will inspire and refuel you (as they do me) for the everyday activism needed to keep this movement alive and alight.