Sunday, August 16, 2009

The Term, Woman of Color: Race is Hard


Last week, I was watching a sex scene involving
three nude men in the film
Short Bus and said to my friend,
who is white, "Wow, white folks have called us colored but they have a
variety of skin tones as well."

He nodded, and said "Yes, you do have a point" and we continued
to watch the film.
Of course there are different skin hues and tones
amongst white folks,
but it is the kind of the thing that is really
apparent when watching folks, nude, on a screen.

I struggle with the notion of being inclusive. As you may have noticed, I don't
use the term woman of color on my blog, at least not on a regular

basis. I usually write Black, Latina and Asian.

Back in January, Latoya put me on to a thread on My Ecdysis
about women of color and radical women of color on the internet.

So, today, I was on on
The My Ecdysis blog, as I am starting a site
Black feminism, so I was looking for the names of folks who
be interested in contributing. I noticed that Nadia responded
to a comment that I wrote, (where I mentioned the phrase, Black
Asian and Latina women). Her comment, in part, was that using
Black, Asian and Latina, erases Arab and Native Women.

She is right.

But I was also like, this is getting to be a little much. Then I was like, damn,
I might have to use women of color, or perhaps even non-white
women, in order to talk about Black, Asian, Latina, Native and Arab

It was then that I saw the usefulness of the term Woman of Color.

The jury is out.

I am thinking about what it means to be inclusive.

I am thinking about the ways in which our language not only reflects but
also shapes our reality and the futures that we envision.


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Nicole said...

I think I use that term "women of color" because it's convient, and I have a genuine concern for brown/black folk period.

cocolamala said...

i think its appropriate to use Woman of Color because when you're talking about womanism, because you're also talking about how racism affects your experience of womanhood --which is why its different from feminism (which can ignore analyzing race in relationship to womanhood).

so a woman of color can talk about her issues with having nappy hair or having a divergent body type using examples where her hair or body is perceived differently because african hair and body types are devalued in western society,

or an asian woman may talk about how images of asian women, in particular, promote racial stereotypes that affect her experiences in the dating world.

each of these analyses is an explicit acknowledgement of how racism affects the experience of womanhood/femininity, so i think it's appropriate to include references to the color line when analyzing women's experience through a womanist lens

a woman who is not impacted by racism does not have to take the step of doing this additional analysis when examining the American beauty standard or sexism

oh, my point was about being inclusive: womanism was designed to be analysis that centered on women of color because feminism can and does ignore these issues and in so doing reproduces the racism found within larger culture. rather than wait and rely on feminism to get over privileging the experiences of white middle class, womanists wrote and thought about what feminism wouldn't.

M.Dot. said...

@cocolamala (I speak Spanish, your name is awesome)

I hear you.

I am not looking forward to typing,
Black,Asian,Latina,Native & Arab.

But that might be awesome. Each time I type it,
I see an example of the women in my head.

I might just used Non White women, because White is a Color. <<<, Sounds like a great blog post title.

manaen said...

I might just used Non White women, because White is a Color.
Actually, white is the combination of all colors.
(We used to say that a lot in the 1960s).

Model Minority said...


toopooped to respond more.^^^

Piamonster said...

So many "colors" to distinguish, from native americans to Indians, Pakistanis, North Africans, and all those women who are multiracial (I'm thinking of Blacks who are also Latino from Cuba, Brasil, Mexico, Puerto Rico, etc). I really hate the term "non-white". It implies an otherness that narrows.

Model Minority said...

Yeah. Non white also treats whiteness as a race.

After three weeks of grad school I am realizing the importance of LOOKING at whiteness AS a race and not, as the norm or some that is neutral, which is what these circles tend to do, unfortunately.

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