Race and Community Accountability

April 27, 2013
By

By Qui Dorian Alexander

I came into feminism as a butch Latina lesbian at a women’s college. Today I stand as a brown queer trans masculine person who moves through the world read as a cis brown man. I have often felt like my place in feminism has not always been welcomed, thought it has always been an integral part of my identity.

I came into my feminism hearing brown queer woman tell stories of their struggles for respect and recognition from men, from white folks and from the institutions they had to navigate daily. I come from a community where people steel stories from their hips.

I have learned along my path that we hold stories in our bodies. People think they can read my experience, who I am and where I am from. What my politics are. I often feel those stories are hidden in my body. Along with the struggles, trauma and resilience of my ancestors. My path to liberation must include telling these stories, working through trauma and confronting internalized oppression.

For the longest time I retreated to my masculinity, the misogyny I learned to “protect it” and the inherit homophobia that came with it. For fear of violence done unto my body because it was different. I would perpetuate the patriarchy, particularly around other men or masculine folks of color for fear of being seen as inauthentic. Convinced that if another brown man saw me with my masculine partner would confront me for being gay, find out I was trans and assault me. I grew up with the victim blaming narrative around rape culture and the fear of violence was my rationalization for perpetuating these systems of oppression.

How does one confront these issues? How does one shift to become an ally to the communities to which their non-complaisance becomes oppressive? These were questions that I struggled with constantly. Playing out my internalized sexism on people that I cared about all for the sake of being “man enough.” It was always important for me to “remember where I came from” but was still struggling to tell the stories of my “old self” and feel comfortable in the body I was given.

But it wasn’t until I participated in the Brown Boi Project that I was able to start having these conversations with myself. The Brown Boi Project is a leadership development and organizing project working to build the leadership, economic self sufficiency, and health of young masculine of center womyn, trans men, and straight men of color–pipelining them into the social justice movement. It was then for the first time I had met other masculine folks of color talking about these issues, wanting to breakdown oppressive masculinity and redefining it to be inclusive and affirmative of feminine identified folks. It wasn’t until then I was able to have conversations with people who looked like me to hold me accountable, to be able to better hear my partner’s concerns as a femme identified person, to be able to be critical of my own internalized sexism. It became apparent that my responsibility as a masculine person is to dismantle sexism and patriarchy and that it’s not the job of women and feminine identified folks.

It was then I realized what was needed to shift. I needed community.

I have been struggling with having conversations about white folks around institutionalized oppression and what I call “subtle racism.” The idea that white folks don’t have to call me the n-word to perpetuate racism in my life. Its the erasure of voices of color, its the apathy around cultural appropriation, its the cries of reverse-racism that really hit the hardest for me. I have been in this constant back and forth of what racism is and isn’t, what I should be offended by and what I should not, what I am “allowed to be angry about” and can’t I cannot. Seeing white folks try to prove to me that they get it, but by inserting their voice they ultimately silence mine. After many feelings of frustration and anger, I stepped backed and asked myself, why aren’t white folks calling each other out on this? As a masculine person I know it’s my responsibility to call out other masculine folks when they are perpetuating misogyny, so why are white folks doing the same?

I simply decided to be direct with the white folks in my life and asked, “Do you feel like you have the knowledge/skill set/ability to call out other white folks on racism/institutionalized oppression/white supremacy?” The majority of the responses I got were “no.” Most folks said they might have the knowledge but not the ability. The majority of these folks where also queer and feminist identified. I had seen them call out others on sexism and homophobia, but why not racism?

Some folks explained that they had called out folks before and have been ostracized from friends, other white folks they talked to were just not receptive, they only had luck talking about racism if it was defined as “prejudice against someone of a different race” (leaving space for the reverse-racism argument). It was then I realized that these folks don’t have community. They do not have other white people in their life to hold them and their friends accountable. They don’t even have the space to talk about race in their white friend circles. There are folks who want to do the work but don’t have community to hold them through the process.

In my advocacy work I have learned we can’t just tell me they have privilege and to change. People have to move through their feelings, be critical and have a willingness to feel supported in a shift. People need community to move and shift ideas for themselves to inter effect the collective consciousness. But learning this ultimately just left me with more questions than answers. Why is it so hard for white folks to build community to do these things? Why are all these white feminist groups reluctant to use an intersectional approach, but chastise others if they do not have a feminist framework? Why are these groups so quick to say, “We are all the same” but constantly make me feel othered when sharing space?

I found myself asking “what do I have to do to help white folks build community to hold each other accountable around race?” When I realized that that is in fact, not my job. Just as it is my responsibility as a masculine person to dismantle sexism, it is white folks responsibility to dismantle racism. That is the question I pose to white feminists: how can you create communities of accountability? How can you start conversations about race/institutionalized oppression/white supremacy whiteout people shutting down?

Ultimately starting a bigger conversation on how can we make anti-racism an integral part of feminist frameworks? A conversation that should be in collaboration with feminist of color but must be initiated by white feminists. It isn’t until community accountability is a fundamental part of feminist framework that healing can be done. And until we find healing we cannot find liberation.
_________________________________________________________

AlexanderQui Alexander is queer, Black Latino facilitator/trainer, consultant, organizer and yoga teacher based in Philadelphia. Self described as a laugh loving, shape shifting, and nerdy ball of fire, who got into yoga, wellness and social justice, all by accident. A graduated of Bryn Mawr College, started advocacy work during his undergraduate career and continues to do that work in a variety of ways. Qui’s current favorite work is with the Attic Youth Center and the Brown Boi Project. He is committed to teaching yoga to queer, trans and poc communities and volunteers at the local community acupuncture clinic.

Qui has years of LGBTQ advocacy experience and uses his background in facilitation to hold and make space for folks in different capacities. His passions for social justice, self and collective care show up in his work with queer youth, community organizing and consulting work. Whether he is facilitating trainings, writing curriculum or teaching yoga, he strives to make spaces that affirm identities and opens people up to the deeper places learning can take them. He works to inspire folks to embrace change in all parts of their lives. Qui considers yoga a part of his work and home life and self-identifies as both a yoga dork and the target audience for cheesy family tv.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

12 Responses to Race and Community Accountability

  1. Robin on April 27, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    This piece is making me think a lot, thanks for putting this out Qui. For 2+ years I was part of a group in Philly called WIARS (Whites In Anti-Racist Solidarity). I think this group was very successful is doing what Qui is talking about here – creating community among white feminists to talk about white supremacy and racism and to build analysis to be able to challenge white supremacy in personal interactions. However, I was eternally frustrated with the group because I felt like this work was basically meaningless, and that if we were truly “in solidarity,” we should be doing campaign work to challenge white supremacy on an institutional level. I think that challenging it on a personal level is good, but ultimately allows the white person to feel like they did their good deed for the day and to go on feeling like a “good white person” while they did nothing to challenge the prison industrial complex, gentrification, stop n frisk, school closings, media portrayals of women of color, etc etc.

    I communicated my feelings about this to the group many times, and people fell on a spectrum of agreement and disagreement. On a few occasions we attended events or helped out with events lead by POC organizations, but we never did real coalition work. When I suggested we disband (for a variety of reasons) I was surprised at how many people in the group did not want to disband because they said it was the only place in their lives where they could openly talk about race and white supremacy with other like-minded white people. It made me realize that my life is an anomaly because I have multiple spaces/groups of friends with whom I regularly discuss white supremacy and race issues along with gender, sexuality, etc. Hearing from other members in the group made me realize how WIARS was valuable, even when it did not meet my expectations. However, I still feel that if we are to truly challenge white supremacy, white people must be part of challenging it on an institutional level and not just in personal interactions. We need to be doing both. And I don’t think we necessarily need to build community before we join in organized struggle, rather, the two should reinforce each other. I would love to hear from others who have tried to create community like this and what their experiences have been.

  2. Robin on April 27, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    This piece is making me think a lot, thanks for putting this out Qui. For 2+ years I was part of a group in Philly called WIARS (Whites In Anti-Racist Solidarity). I think this group was very successful is doing what Qui is talking about here – creating community among white feminists to talk about white supremacy and racism and to build analysis to be able to challenge white supremacy in personal interactions. However, I was eternally frustrated with the group because I felt like this work was basically meaningless, and that if we were truly “in solidarity,” we should be doing campaign work to challenge white supremacy on an institutional level. I think that challenging it on a personal level is good, but ultimately allows the white person to feel like they did their good deed for the day and to go on feeling like a “good white person” while they did nothing to challenge the prison industrial complex, gentrification, stop n frisk, school closings, media portrayals of women of color, etc etc.

    I communicated my feelings about this to the group many times, and people fell on a spectrum of agreement and disagreement. On a few occasions we attended events or helped out with events lead by POC organizations, but we never did real coalition work. When I suggested we disband (for a variety of reasons) I was surprised at how many people in the group did not want to disband because they said it was the only place in their lives where they could openly talk about race and white supremacy with other like-minded white people. It made me realize that my life is an anomaly because I have multiple spaces/groups of friends with whom I regularly discuss white supremacy and race issues along with gender, sexuality, etc. Hearing from other members in the group made me realize how WIARS was valuable, even when it did not meet my expectations. However, I still feel that if we are to truly challenge white supremacy, white people must be part of challenging it on an institutional level and not just in personal interactions. We need to be doing both. And I don’t think we necessarily need to build community before we join in organized struggle, rather, the two should reinforce each other. I would love to hear from others who have tried to create community like this and what their experiences have been.

  3. Robin on April 27, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    This piece is making me think a lot, thanks for putting this out Qui. For 2+ years I was part of a group in Philly called WIARS (Whites In Anti-Racist Solidarity). I think this group was very successful is doing what Qui is talking about here – creating community among white feminists to talk about white supremacy and racism and to build analysis to be able to challenge white supremacy in personal interactions. However, I was eternally frustrated with the group because I felt like this work was basically meaningless, and that if we were truly “in solidarity,” we should be doing campaign work to challenge white supremacy on an institutional level. I think that challenging it on a personal level is good, but ultimately allows the white person to feel like they did their good deed for the day and to go on feeling like a “good white person” while they did nothing to challenge the prison industrial complex, gentrification, stop n frisk, school closings, media portrayals of women of color, etc etc.

    I communicated my feelings about this to the group many times, and people fell on a spectrum of agreement and disagreement. On a few occasions we attended events or helped out with events lead by POC organizations, but we never did real coalition work. When I suggested we disband (for a variety of reasons) I was surprised at how many people in the group did not want to disband because they said it was the only place in their lives where they could openly talk about race and white supremacy with other like-minded white people. It made me realize that my life is an anomaly because I have multiple spaces/groups of friends with whom I regularly discuss white supremacy and race issues along with gender, sexuality, etc. Hearing from other members in the group made me realize how WIARS was valuable, even when it did not meet my expectations. However, I still feel that if we are to truly challenge white supremacy, white people must be part of challenging it on an institutional level and not just in personal interactions. We need to be doing both. And I don’t think we necessarily need to build community before we join in organized struggle, rather, the two should reinforce each other. I would love to hear from others who have tried to create community like this and what their experiences have been.

  4. Robin on April 27, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    This piece is making me think a lot, thanks for putting this out Qui. For 2+ years I was part of a group in Philly called WIARS (Whites In Anti-Racist Solidarity). I think this group was very successful is doing what Qui is talking about here – creating community among white feminists to talk about white supremacy and racism and to build analysis to be able to challenge white supremacy in personal interactions. However, I was eternally frustrated with the group because I felt like this work was basically meaningless, and that if we were truly “in solidarity,” we should be doing campaign work to challenge white supremacy on an institutional level. I think that challenging it on a personal level is good, but ultimately allows the white person to feel like they did their good deed for the day and to go on feeling like a “good white person” while they did nothing to challenge the prison industrial complex, gentrification, stop n frisk, school closings, media portrayals of women of color, etc etc.

    I communicated my feelings about this to the group many times, and people fell on a spectrum of agreement and disagreement. On a few occasions we attended events or helped out with events lead by POC organizations, but we never did real coalition work. When I suggested we disband (for a variety of reasons) I was surprised at how many people in the group did not want to disband because they said it was the only place in their lives where they could openly talk about race and white supremacy with other like-minded white people. It made me realize that my life is an anomaly because I have multiple spaces/groups of friends with whom I regularly discuss white supremacy and race issues along with gender, sexuality, etc. Hearing from other members in the group made me realize how WIARS was valuable, even when it did not meet my expectations. However, I still feel that if we are to truly challenge white supremacy, white people must be part of challenging it on an institutional level and not just in personal interactions. We need to be doing both. And I don’t think we necessarily need to build community before we join in organized struggle, rather, the two should reinforce each other. I would love to hear from others who have tried to create community like this and what their experiences have been.

  5. sprout on April 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Qui, I think this is a crucial perspective and also a beautifully written article — nurturing each other through community while we dismantle systems of oppression is essential or else I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning. And the flip side of that nurturing-warm-and-fuzzy-community is accountability. When I was younger, my Mama used tell me “there are two kinds of love- one is treats and saying yes and the other is setting boundaries and saying no. When parents only do the first kind, their children aren’t fully loved.” The lesson is from my maternal grandmother, who I never got to meet.

    This year, I’ve had a taste of this kind of community and accountability, which I especially associate with long car rides in large rental vans, where we have enough time and space to dig into hard questions, and push each other to say what we mean, to listen fully and to ask questions about what troubles us. In this space, I’ve been challenged to be a cis-person who is a more vocal ally to the trans*folks I know and love. I think the same can be said for race. I know that the times I’ve spoken up (about queerness to feminists, or about pronoun usage to peers), I’ve drawn on strength I feel from this community of people that exists outside of my friendships. This is something we’ve intentionally worked to build.

    Robin, I hear what you’re saying that the particular group/space you mentioned didn’t provide everything you wanted or needed from it. If it was meaningless for you, it sounds like it wasn’t meaningless for other members. I’m excited to be part of the [white folks challenging each other on an institutional level] struggle that you bring up later in your comment. At the same time, I think the choice between individual interactions and dismantling a racist system is a false one. I think we can do both, need to do both, and need to see them as inextricably linked. And I think that neither will be possible, sustainable, or transformative without community, which points back to what you were saying, Qui. I’d ask the question, what prevented the group you speak of from actually building coalitions? You don’t need to answer here… but I think starting new groups doesn’t necessarily fix old problems.

    If the number one reason why more white folks don’t take a stand about racism and micro-aggressions is because of fear of being isolated from other white folks, then I think building community around these issues is a crucial step. Having power and having strength are not the same thing. White folks who have the /power/ to stand up, but don’t (because of whatever reasons, and strength might be one of them) shows me that we need to move away from shaming folks (when has that helped?) and actually create structures that support people (ourselves) in doing this incredibly supportive work. I think that’s what Qui is calling for.

  6. sprout on April 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Qui, I think this is a crucial perspective and also a beautifully written article — nurturing each other through community while we dismantle systems of oppression is essential or else I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning. And the flip side of that nurturing-warm-and-fuzzy-community is accountability. When I was younger, my Mama used tell me “there are two kinds of love- one is treats and saying yes and the other is setting boundaries and saying no. When parents only do the first kind, their children aren’t fully loved.” The lesson is from my maternal grandmother, who I never got to meet.

    This year, I’ve had a taste of this kind of community and accountability, which I especially associate with long car rides in large rental vans, where we have enough time and space to dig into hard questions, and push each other to say what we mean, to listen fully and to ask questions about what troubles us. In this space, I’ve been challenged to be a cis-person who is a more vocal ally to the trans*folks I know and love. I think the same can be said for race. I know that the times I’ve spoken up (about queerness to feminists, or about pronoun usage to peers), I’ve drawn on strength I feel from this community of people that exists outside of my friendships. This is something we’ve intentionally worked to build.

    Robin, I hear what you’re saying that the particular group/space you mentioned didn’t provide everything you wanted or needed from it. If it was meaningless for you, it sounds like it wasn’t meaningless for other members. I’m excited to be part of the [white folks challenging each other on an institutional level] struggle that you bring up later in your comment. At the same time, I think the choice between individual interactions and dismantling a racist system is a false one. I think we can do both, need to do both, and need to see them as inextricably linked. And I think that neither will be possible, sustainable, or transformative without community, which points back to what you were saying, Qui. I’d ask the question, what prevented the group you speak of from actually building coalitions? You don’t need to answer here… but I think starting new groups doesn’t necessarily fix old problems.

    If the number one reason why more white folks don’t take a stand about racism and micro-aggressions is because of fear of being isolated from other white folks, then I think building community around these issues is a crucial step. Having power and having strength are not the same thing. White folks who have the /power/ to stand up, but don’t (because of whatever reasons, and strength might be one of them) shows me that we need to move away from shaming folks (when has that helped?) and actually create structures that support people (ourselves) in doing this incredibly supportive work. I think that’s what Qui is calling for.

  7. sprout on April 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Qui, I think this is a crucial perspective and also a beautifully written article — nurturing each other through community while we dismantle systems of oppression is essential or else I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning. And the flip side of that nurturing-warm-and-fuzzy-community is accountability. When I was younger, my Mama used tell me “there are two kinds of love- one is treats and saying yes and the other is setting boundaries and saying no. When parents only do the first kind, their children aren’t fully loved.” The lesson is from my maternal grandmother, who I never got to meet.

    This year, I’ve had a taste of this kind of community and accountability, which I especially associate with long car rides in large rental vans, where we have enough time and space to dig into hard questions, and push each other to say what we mean, to listen fully and to ask questions about what troubles us. In this space, I’ve been challenged to be a cis-person who is a more vocal ally to the trans*folks I know and love. I think the same can be said for race. I know that the times I’ve spoken up (about queerness to feminists, or about pronoun usage to peers), I’ve drawn on strength I feel from this community of people that exists outside of my friendships. This is something we’ve intentionally worked to build.

    Robin, I hear what you’re saying that the particular group/space you mentioned didn’t provide everything you wanted or needed from it. If it was meaningless for you, it sounds like it wasn’t meaningless for other members. I’m excited to be part of the [white folks challenging each other on an institutional level] struggle that you bring up later in your comment. At the same time, I think the choice between individual interactions and dismantling a racist system is a false one. I think we can do both, need to do both, and need to see them as inextricably linked. And I think that neither will be possible, sustainable, or transformative without community, which points back to what you were saying, Qui. I’d ask the question, what prevented the group you speak of from actually building coalitions? You don’t need to answer here… but I think starting new groups doesn’t necessarily fix old problems.

    If the number one reason why more white folks don’t take a stand about racism and micro-aggressions is because of fear of being isolated from other white folks, then I think building community around these issues is a crucial step. Having power and having strength are not the same thing. White folks who have the /power/ to stand up, but don’t (because of whatever reasons, and strength might be one of them) shows me that we need to move away from shaming folks (when has that helped?) and actually create structures that support people (ourselves) in doing this incredibly supportive work. I think that’s what Qui is calling for.

  8. sprout on April 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    Qui, I think this is a crucial perspective and also a beautifully written article — nurturing each other through community while we dismantle systems of oppression is essential or else I won’t want to get out of bed in the morning. And the flip side of that nurturing-warm-and-fuzzy-community is accountability. When I was younger, my Mama used tell me “there are two kinds of love- one is treats and saying yes and the other is setting boundaries and saying no. When parents only do the first kind, their children aren’t fully loved.” The lesson is from my maternal grandmother, who I never got to meet.

    This year, I’ve had a taste of this kind of community and accountability, which I especially associate with long car rides in large rental vans, where we have enough time and space to dig into hard questions, and push each other to say what we mean, to listen fully and to ask questions about what troubles us. In this space, I’ve been challenged to be a cis-person who is a more vocal ally to the trans*folks I know and love. I think the same can be said for race. I know that the times I’ve spoken up (about queerness to feminists, or about pronoun usage to peers), I’ve drawn on strength I feel from this community of people that exists outside of my friendships. This is something we’ve intentionally worked to build.

    Robin, I hear what you’re saying that the particular group/space you mentioned didn’t provide everything you wanted or needed from it. If it was meaningless for you, it sounds like it wasn’t meaningless for other members. I’m excited to be part of the [white folks challenging each other on an institutional level] struggle that you bring up later in your comment. At the same time, I think the choice between individual interactions and dismantling a racist system is a false one. I think we can do both, need to do both, and need to see them as inextricably linked. And I think that neither will be possible, sustainable, or transformative without community, which points back to what you were saying, Qui. I’d ask the question, what prevented the group you speak of from actually building coalitions? You don’t need to answer here… but I think starting new groups doesn’t necessarily fix old problems.

    If the number one reason why more white folks don’t take a stand about racism and micro-aggressions is because of fear of being isolated from other white folks, then I think building community around these issues is a crucial step. Having power and having strength are not the same thing. White folks who have the /power/ to stand up, but don’t (because of whatever reasons, and strength might be one of them) shows me that we need to move away from shaming folks (when has that helped?) and actually create structures that support people (ourselves) in doing this incredibly supportive work. I think that’s what Qui is calling for.

  9. Linda Long on May 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    What a terrific piece! A couple of years ago, my partner and I attended a 4 day seminar in California called Unmasking Whiteness. It was a space where white folks could explore their privilege and their place in oppression without hurting any people of color with their ignorance and also be able to ask questions and learn without the fear of feeling like an asshole! It was a terrific experience to be in a safe space where I could be both held accountable (albeit gently) and also have a community of other white folk who wanted very badly to become more enlightened as to their privilege. Talk abut drained after four days! I too believe that it is important to bring your work on privilege and race into whatever organization you belong to rather than trying to set up another community. In the feminist movement ( I am one of the current leaders of CA NOW) so often rather than fix the problems within an organization, I find people starting their own. I am working hard as are the other members of the board, to educate our members (a lot of old white ladies) about intersectional feminism. We take it very seriously that we have to help our white lady organization unpack its suitcase and realize that it is useless to wonder why women of color are not with us (because why the hell would they be?) unless we take the responsibility to dismantle the racism within our organization.
    While there have been missteps along the way (due mostly to overwork and not much money) we are making progress! We have a lot of that “power” which we really want to share and we gather our strength from actively working to make our community a safe intersectional space. We also gather a lot of strength here in Sacramento by speaking truth to power! (Doesn’t make us terribly popular though!)
    Thanks for all the amazing writing in your blog! I can’t tell you how many people I have sent your way!

  10. Linda Long on May 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    What a terrific piece! A couple of years ago, my partner and I attended a 4 day seminar in California called Unmasking Whiteness. It was a space where white folks could explore their privilege and their place in oppression without hurting any people of color with their ignorance and also be able to ask questions and learn without the fear of feeling like an asshole! It was a terrific experience to be in a safe space where I could be both held accountable (albeit gently) and also have a community of other white folk who wanted very badly to become more enlightened as to their privilege. Talk abut drained after four days! I too believe that it is important to bring your work on privilege and race into whatever organization you belong to rather than trying to set up another community. In the feminist movement ( I am one of the current leaders of CA NOW) so often rather than fix the problems within an organization, I find people starting their own. I am working hard as are the other members of the board, to educate our members (a lot of old white ladies) about intersectional feminism. We take it very seriously that we have to help our white lady organization unpack its suitcase and realize that it is useless to wonder why women of color are not with us (because why the hell would they be?) unless we take the responsibility to dismantle the racism within our organization.
    While there have been missteps along the way (due mostly to overwork and not much money) we are making progress! We have a lot of that “power” which we really want to share and we gather our strength from actively working to make our community a safe intersectional space. We also gather a lot of strength here in Sacramento by speaking truth to power! (Doesn’t make us terribly popular though!)
    Thanks for all the amazing writing in your blog! I can’t tell you how many people I have sent your way!

  11. Linda Long on May 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    What a terrific piece! A couple of years ago, my partner and I attended a 4 day seminar in California called Unmasking Whiteness. It was a space where white folks could explore their privilege and their place in oppression without hurting any people of color with their ignorance and also be able to ask questions and learn without the fear of feeling like an asshole! It was a terrific experience to be in a safe space where I could be both held accountable (albeit gently) and also have a community of other white folk who wanted very badly to become more enlightened as to their privilege. Talk abut drained after four days! I too believe that it is important to bring your work on privilege and race into whatever organization you belong to rather than trying to set up another community. In the feminist movement ( I am one of the current leaders of CA NOW) so often rather than fix the problems within an organization, I find people starting their own. I am working hard as are the other members of the board, to educate our members (a lot of old white ladies) about intersectional feminism. We take it very seriously that we have to help our white lady organization unpack its suitcase and realize that it is useless to wonder why women of color are not with us (because why the hell would they be?) unless we take the responsibility to dismantle the racism within our organization.
    While there have been missteps along the way (due mostly to overwork and not much money) we are making progress! We have a lot of that “power” which we really want to share and we gather our strength from actively working to make our community a safe intersectional space. We also gather a lot of strength here in Sacramento by speaking truth to power! (Doesn’t make us terribly popular though!)
    Thanks for all the amazing writing in your blog! I can’t tell you how many people I have sent your way!

  12. Linda Long on May 9, 2013 at 6:37 pm

    What a terrific piece! A couple of years ago, my partner and I attended a 4 day seminar in California called Unmasking Whiteness. It was a space where white folks could explore their privilege and their place in oppression without hurting any people of color with their ignorance and also be able to ask questions and learn without the fear of feeling like an asshole! It was a terrific experience to be in a safe space where I could be both held accountable (albeit gently) and also have a community of other white folk who wanted very badly to become more enlightened as to their privilege. Talk abut drained after four days! I too believe that it is important to bring your work on privilege and race into whatever organization you belong to rather than trying to set up another community. In the feminist movement ( I am one of the current leaders of CA NOW) so often rather than fix the problems within an organization, I find people starting their own. I am working hard as are the other members of the board, to educate our members (a lot of old white ladies) about intersectional feminism. We take it very seriously that we have to help our white lady organization unpack its suitcase and realize that it is useless to wonder why women of color are not with us (because why the hell would they be?) unless we take the responsibility to dismantle the racism within our organization.
    While there have been missteps along the way (due mostly to overwork and not much money) we are making progress! We have a lot of that “power” which we really want to share and we gather our strength from actively working to make our community a safe intersectional space. We also gather a lot of strength here in Sacramento by speaking truth to power! (Doesn’t make us terribly popular though!)
    Thanks for all the amazing writing in your blog! I can’t tell you how many people I have sent your way!

Follow The Feminist Wire

Arts & Culture

  • 3 poems by Arielle Greenberg Wormwood portrait LA

    Who I’d Like to Meet   I am on tiptoe scanning our tallest bookshelves for something to pack to read on the plane.  I am scanful, tippy-toed: a girl without boots.  I am shorty.  I want to read something great, as in literary, and beautiful and daring, and something hobnailed [...]

  • From Corpses, Artworks and Dreams of by Raha Namy

    The novel Corpses, Arts and Dreams of is a triptych that hopes to tell the story/history of a people of a place and time, from three different angles, in three different styles. The first book deals with life in the city of Tehran. The second is on the people who [...]

  • Poetry by Sarah Gonzales saritaHeadShot

    fairy tales 2   I wish I could spit rhymes with the ease of a liberated tongue, relay my stories minus the empty hours of self loathing plus crumpled re-starts. maybe its true the birth of a poem (like much else in this world) means more with scars of a [...]