Because women of colour experience racism in ways not always the same as those experienced by men of color and sexism in ways not always parallel to experiences of white women, antiracism and feminism are limited, even on their own terms… The failure of feminism to interrogate race means that the resistance strategies of feminism will often replicate and reinforce the subordination of people of colour, and the failure of antiracism to interrogate patriarchy means that antiracism will frequently reproduce the subordination of women
"Lupita’s Oscar win adds her name to a list of only five other African American actresses who have won in that same category. Lupita’s awards were well deserved, but even with her wins, and the wins for 12 Years a Slave, the 2014 awards season followed the trend set by its predecessors: time after time, the number of people of color nominated for and winning awards is is astronomically low.
Since the Oscars started in 1929, fewer than 4% of the awards have been given to African Americans. Only three Oscars have ever been awarded to Latinos for acting roles (Jose Ferrer, Anthony Quinn and Benico del Toro). The majority of voters for Awards ceremonies like the Oscars are even less diverse than the winners list. In the highly secretive roster of 5,765 voting members of the Academy, 94% are Caucasian and 77% are male. Only 2% of the voters are black and less than 2 % are Hispanic. The median age of voters is 62 and only 14% of voters are younger than 50. Many of the white male voters don’t really see a problem with the lack of diversity on the voting panel.”
During conversations about the DREAM Act and other legislation that would make it easier for undocumented immigrants to become citizens, I’ve encountered a number of peers who have suddenly changed their stance to “support” immigration reform because they have a perverted obsession with Latina women. Whenever immigration comes up, these guys immediately mention their infatuation with Jennifer Lopez, Salma Hayek, Shakira, or Selena Gomez. Words like “exotic” and “spicy” get thrown around, like they’re describing a dish at a restaurant rather than an actual person.
In 2009, two doctors, Sharon Hayes and Stacey Tantleff-Dunn, did a study on animated characters and young girls’ self-image. After watching clips of cartoon characters who were princesses, the participants were asked what made a “real princess.” The results might be different from what you would expect: these girls, around the ages of six and seven, generally did not report having a desire to be thinner after studying and watching the narrow-waisted princesses. Instead, when asked how they could become a princess, many of the girls reported that they would need to change their skin color. They responded with things like “I’d paint myself white” and “I would change from brown skin to white skin.”
When a wound heals, first the bleeding stops. A scab forms and slowly the skin around the wound grows thicker and stretches under the scab until it reaches the other side of the wound. When the scab falls off, there is new skin, there is healing. But sometimes, wounds aren’t allowed to heal. Sometimes, they are picked at and picked at and picked at, and they stay open, weeping.
Maybe I’m not outraged. I’m exhausted and open and exposed and a lot of other people are too because we are wounds that get picked at and picked at and picked at one day, there won’t be anything left to heal.
When we told Teen Vogue we wanted them to show real diversity and stop altering the faces and bodies of their models, they sent us away with an admonishment to “do our homework.” Well, we did—and here it is: in the September 2012 issue of Teen Vogue, there were 123 images of thin white women, and only 37 non-thin women or women of color. And that’s with Selena Gomez on the cover!
All this week we’ll be showing you our “homework assignments,” and we encourage you to join in by creating your own videos and images and letting Teen Vogue know that magazines that only feature thin, white, impossibly retouched women are definitely NOT the cutting edge of fashion, and that teen girls deserve better.
After all, women of color being degraded, dehumanized and reduced to ASS — is nothing new. We live in a world where black and brown women’s bodies have been exploited since slavery. Where 19th century European freak shows exhibited the “unusual” body of Saartjie Baartman, a South African woman whose remains were finally returned to her homeland in 2002 after legal battles with the French government. Mr. Grainge, your disregard for black and brown women’s bodies is the same disregard that enabled a history of forced sterilization, the shackling of birthing black mothers in prison. Mr. Grainge, your indifference resembles the indifference of a rape culture that overlooks the men who rape, while blaming the women and girls of color, who experience sexual violence at disproportionate rates. Research has proven that the objectification of women in today’s toxic media environment has harmful effects on women and girls.
It is in this greater context of sexual exploitation where the dehumanization of black and brown women has become standard in commercial hip hop. The “Birthday Song” is simply one example. There are countless others.
Take, for example, a controversial piece of history that relates directly to the current political debates: women’s control over reproduction. Birth control, if taught at all in our schools, is usually segregated in health classes. But women’s control over childbearing has actually been a key issue in U.S. history. As the women’s rights movement grew before the Civil War, white middle-class women became interested in controlling how many children they had in order to be able to extend their experiences beyond the home. For black and Native American women, control of their bodies meant primarily the ability to make choices about fertility that weren’t dominated by rape and the inability to keep their children safe and free. In the early 20th century, when Margaret Sanger first started handing out birth control—a crime for which she was repeatedly arrested—she saw it as part of a larger fight for the emancipation of the poor. But, only a few years later, influenced by the eugenics movement that fueled Jim Crow at home and imperial designs abroad, she was defining the “chief issue of birth control” as “more children from the fit, less from the unfit.” A generation later, many activists fighting for the legalization of abortion ignored the sterilization of black women in the South, Native American women on reservations, and colonized women in Puerto Rico.
What a rich, complex historical vein—all the contradictions around gender, class, and race that lie at the heart of supporting students to think critically about history and social justice strategies. When we open up history in this way, we encompass gender issues, homophobia, and LGBTQ history. Many aspects of current society that don’t show up in the standard curriculum—mass incarceration, poverty and the welfare system, the impact of militarization at home and abroad—are arenas where an exploration from a more feminist perspective can connect to students’ lives and expose them to a more expansive view of what history is and why it matters.
A Girl Like Me: Color is more than skin deep for young African-American women struggling to define themselves.
Can We Keep It Real? (With Teen Magazines)
This fantastic video by the teen activists at Sisters Action Media responds to Seventeen Magazine’s statements about diversity and authenticity. “When you look at mainstream magazines, diversity means there’s a black girl, a Latina girl, and an Asian girl somewhere in the magazine.” Does this really count as diversity?