I recently read a book review for “Click: Young Women on the Moments That Made Them Feminists” that inspired to write about my own moment. Now, I don’t call myself a feminist, since I don’t particularly believe in labels. However, everyone who knows me, would probably identify me as such, knowing that my ideals line up almost exactly. Well the moment that made me a feminist was being a co-founder to a womyn’s organization, Great Womyn in Progress, on my college campus. In the beginning, I was sexist and misogynistic as most womyn, in my opinion, are, especially the ones I knew. Its pretty hard to plan events for the empowerment of womyn when you hate the fact that you are one. Its even more difficult to present yourself as someone who hopes to unify womyn when it’s a pain to you to come up with something positive to say about the womyn you know. It was the researching and hearing about womyn’s issues that prompted my change. It was also the fact that I needed to be someone of love and understanding, things that were always, inevitably deep inside of me. Its so easy to conform to the ways of the world and not so easy to be yourself, the person you should be. The three decisions that I credit, during my college years, with helping to make me the person I am today, would be deciding to attend UC Riverside, changing my major to Ethnic Studies, and helping to start GWIP. All my energy and time goes into being a person who seeks the liberation of all people, which was prompted by those decisions. A friend once told me to keep the good work with GWIP because it was important to love yourself, that she had never thought about loving herself before, because she had always focused so much on her family. That meant a lot to me, still does. What keeps me going through all the struggle, is the possibility of the chance I could be opening a person’s mind to the beauty and plight of the woman, or that I can teach someone about the structures in our society that make it hard for equality flourish, that a woman might not have the feelings that I once had of being confused as to why I should love mysef.
I love women, I love myself as a woman. That is something that I live and take with me, everyday in every way, its who I am, at the very core, at the most important part. The way we dress. Our quiet delicateness and fierce strength. Our bodies and the power we possess in them. Our beautiful faces, all the ways we can dress ourselves up. The French tipped nails, the make up and heels. I love it all. We’re so smart, booksmart, and we always know just what to do in every situation. Mothers. I can’t imagine the strength and patience it takes to give birth and be a mother to a child? Its amazing. We’re survivors. Womyn inspire me.
When I was young, I was all for unity. I remember often having conversations about what Black people needed to do in order to be viable citizens within this country; to stop being ignorant, to stop being poor, etc. I was right along with everyone else when they answered that the solution to the “Black problem” was unity, unity among all Black people. In those years, I said a lot of things that I didn’t know the meaning of. This was one of them. I can’t even tell you what I felt unity meant during that time and I definitely couldn’t have told you then what it meant in the context of the Black community. Now I have different ideas about what unity means, if its even possible among entire populations/communities, and if it is necessary for the Black community to acquire full rights in this society. Recently, I have taken on the task of reading the speeches of some great leaders. So far, I’ve only read Malcolm X’s “After the Bombing” speech. Specifically, this is the speech where he speaks a lot about unity. “So we saw that the first thing to do was to unite our people, not only unite us internally, but we have to be united with our brothers and sisters abroad.” I have to disagree with X on the subject, but not conclusively. Is it possible for an entire community containing millions of people with different belief systems, economic statuses, worldviews, backgrounds, etc. to be united? All that we can assume that really have in common is a history with specific oppressive system. What would unity look like within the Black community? How important is unity in the Black situation? If you ask 10 different people who the problem is with Black people, you will get 10 different responses, each tailored to the individual person’s experiences, education, and belief system. All of our answers are biased. The same goes if you ask about any other underprivileged community. Very rarely do you hear discussions on how people with power in this country can become better citizens or how they can help those who suffer under their oppression. I don’t believe the betterment of any community depends on that community solely. If we as people of color, or womyn, or poor people want to talk about the betterment of our communities and how to make our lives better then we first need to, in my opinion, find out ways to successfully interrogate white and accompanying privileges. Nothing that we can do on our own as a community can free us from oppression, we have to fight against the core of oppression. To tell the black community that their freedom lies in the hands on unity or education, without regard to what has made this community uneducated or excessively divided in the first place is to blame us for our own marginalization.