Mar 31, 2006

Radical Women of Color Solidarity - Issue of Trust?

First of all, Brownfemipower is back! Welcome back mujer.

From the few discussions I've had about BFP's particular blog situation, and my own recent futile attempts to get involved again with a Palestinian women solidarity group I had done work with a while back, I've realized that there are some serious "trust issues" going on between radical women of color - whether between women from our own particular communities or the wider women of color community, there is a lot of hestitation, defensiveness, mistrust...

We know this too well, because we've all been there. How many times have we been fucked over by so-called allies? I can think of numerous situations when social justice groups I was involved with fell apart because of pure bullshit.

Can we address this issue? Is there even an issue here to address? I think there is something to be said about radical women of color, solidarity work and the issue of trust. Most of the white women (activists, academics, etc.) that I know do their work with a particular sense of confidence that I don't think the issue of "trust" is really even there in the same way for them. I could be wrong tho - but that has been my observation.

Of course I'm speaking in general terms here, I realize this (and the problems with that, even the notion of "radical women of color" itself is so vague).

But what is it about us and the way we interact with one another that sometimes becomes too damn volatile? Do our particular "baggages" (for lack of a better word) trigger one another, and is trust a main part of that "baggage"?

For example, I for one, have a difficult time with people speaking to me in a patronizing tone, talking at me (not with me) really triggers me. I think about all those spaces in my everyday life (job, school, activist, etc.) that have attempted to silence me, ignore me, "educate" me while I have either remained "silent" or spent every last bit of my energy voicing (no, screaming) my existence. Is there something to be said about this trigger of mine that gets played out in a certain way when i'm around other women of color who perhaps share the same rage?

I feel like I'm being inarticulate right now because these are ideas that are floating around in my head and I'm just putting it out there to see what you all have to say.

I know trust and solidarity building is a continual process and i'm not even sure if the word "solidarity" is appropriate (it's so fucking cliche). All I know is I feel an immediate connection with other radical women of color, I tend to want to put the trust there and build solidarity from there. But, with the few experiences I've had, I'm a bit hesitant now.

The perfect example is the Palestinian solidarity group I was involved with. We were a number of committed women of color (Arab/Iranian) who were doing some seriously solid work. I had faith in this group and my allies...well, what happened? Some bullshit and the group fell apart. I was devestated since the group and the women in it meant the world to me at the time. But trust issues got in the way, the group fell apart and now rebuilding it has been hell.

Now there is further distance, hesitation, mistrust...
I don't even know if we will ever regroup. And it's such a damn shame.

I know building trust and solidarity is a process, and i've said in the previous post:
Solidarity between Women of Color is not a given. We are not in solidarity by default of being of color. There's a lot of work that goes into building "solidarity." It's an ongoing process of continual shaping and reshaping of our politics based on acknowledging privileges and challenging one another.

But having said that...
Is all that even possible without building TRUST first?

I would appreciate your comments, really, because I don't want to be all jaded. A part of me knows there's a way to address this issue...there has to be.

There has to be.

Mar 29, 2006

It's been a minute...

I hadn't had a chance to blog in a few days...but when I did get back I found out that one of my favorite bloggers had decided to call it quits. Brownfemipower was a source of support and inspiration and I'm going to miss her words and energy very much.

I don't want to spend time writing about the situation that led her to make this decision, but I will talk about the issue at hand.

Solidarity between Women of Color is not a given (if you're a person of color then you know this too well). We are not in solidarity by default of being of color. There's a lot of work that goes into building "solidarity" (for a lack of a better term). It's an ongoing process of continual shaping and reshaping of our politics based on acknowledging privileges and challenging one another.

More importantly, it's about listening to one another and hearing each other out. When you've lived most of your life in spaces that attempt to exclude you, silence you, ridicule you, exploit you, ignore you, discipline you...when you've been either invisible or too visible in such spaces then you should know damn well that we NEED TO CREATE spaces where we can hear one another out. We NEED to create those spaces, our spaces.

I want to stress the importance of listening to one another. There are complex intersections of oppression that some of us deal with...we carry heavy loads. We have rage. We have internalized shit. We have wounds that run deep. Building solidarity in the context of all this is some seriously difficult SHIT.

I don't have the answers. I'm not even asking for any. It just makes me sad when a potential for solidarity-building falls apart. It makes me sad that those very difficult conversations (the ones we need to have so badly) often don't happen. And when they do...well, you know the rest.

BFP, I'm gonna miss your words.
Cuidate mujer.

Mar 17, 2006

Eid-e Noruz Mobarak!

Yes, it's that time of year again (the Spring Equinox) where us Iranians get ready to celebrate the beginning of our new calendar year - 1385!

The celebration is called Noruz and it's been around for quite a while (almost 3000 years!)

This is what the traditional Noruz sofreh looks like - It's called the Haft Sin.

I wish for justice-peace, love and joy for the new year!

Noruz-e-taan mobarak!

Mar 15, 2006

Too Late

Don't ask me to regret
That which I had no control over
My future spelled out m.i.s.t.a.k.e.
Only I read it as beautiful
Intoxicated by what shouldn't be
I am blinking
Catching glimpses of reality
In the midst of this confusion
I am breathing clearly
I am feeling deeply.

Mar 12, 2006

Puppet From Hell (white activist faux pas)

I'm starting a new job soon which involves more teaching! I'll be working with children in families affected by HIV. So, we had "HIV sensitivity" training yesterday and it was a little more "radical" than I thought (i.e. had a slight anti-oppression focus).

There was seven of us tutors in total, meeting the "diversity" quota ever so nicely. There was this one person who stood out in a way that was, how can I put it, incredibly annoying (and definitely had me on my toes). It was this recently M.A. graduated, "activist" white woman who kept busting out in academic jargon/analysis to remind us all of shit that I personally didn't think mattered (been there done that, not going there again!)
She'd have these two minute rants, to which I would respond, just to challenge her cookie cutter "radical" discourse which in no shape or form related to everyday lives of poor, people of color dealing with HIV and how we, with all of our privileges, fit into the picture as self-reflexively, as self-critically as possible.

We were discussing the issue of disclosure and how some families did not share information with others about the HIV - whether to their own children, to the wider community or to us. So the same chic put up her hand and said something about "non-disclosure as reinforcing the stimga around HIV" and how unfortunate it was that families couldn't come out and share this info with others just to break that cycle of shame and stigma. Ummm, hello? Victimhood narrative much? UGH. Having said that tho, I also thought about immigrant communities of color in the diaspora and the complexities of support systems within our communties (especially when it came to something as stigmatized as HIV). I was so annoyed with this white, activist chic who just didn't seem to get it. Yah yah, theory and action = social change, bla bla bla...get over it and get real.

At one point, the group was discussing the difficulties of home tutoring and getting students to focus while their other siblings were were running around making nose. This chic put up her hand and told us that the best solution to that situation was to engage the other siblings in a fun activity (i.e. puzzles, toys, etc.) to keep them occupied. This would also help make a positive association with our presence in the space for them. Ok, that made sense to me. I dug the idea.

But check it out. She had one experience where she had taken two incredibly large hand puppets of hers (a pig and a cow) to the home of a Muslim Somali family to engage the younger children and build good rapport with them. She had rung the doorbell, puppets in hand, ready to greet the kids. So what happens? The 5 year old opens the door, with the 3 year old by her side. They see the pig and immediately freak out and run away crying! It had not occurred to this woman that pigs were HARAM. Stuffed animals or not, pigs are just not seen to be cute or cuddly by children from most Muslim households. So to cut a long story short, she did not make good rapport with the kids because now they associated her with the pig, which made her haram by default.

I got a good laugh from the story. In fact, I think I was the only one laughing. Her though, she was amused by her own ignorance. She thought it was funny or ironic, because after all (as she had mentioned to me earlier), she had taken all her required "post-colonial" courses. But regardless of how much Said, Spivak and Fanon this woman had read, at the end of the day, she was still the white chic with the Puppet From Hell!

Honestly, I don't know. She meant well, there's no doubt there. Her heart is in it. But that's not enough. Is that unfair of me to say? I mean, she is more of an ally than a right-wing, conservative, fucko. But how much of an ally can someone be if they just don't get it? I don't know.

Mar 11, 2006


Mar 9, 2006

Do's, Do Not's and Donuts

I've been listening to the latest Jay Dee (Dilla) album, Donuts, and it's got me thinking about so many things. Maybe there's already a lot on my mind or maybe the sounds are triggering thoughts. Or maybe the fact that this inspirational artist has recently passed away has affected me on a deeper level than I'd thought...don't know. The album is beautiful. I've been trying to come up with a word more descriptive than "beautiful" - something that captures the raw smoothness of the beats, the depth of the sounds which are at times pleasant yet dissonant, unique yet familiar, and the rushed yet laid-back pace of the tracks, the complex simplicity of the whole thing...maybe this album is what I'd call "incongruously perfect."
Or maybe it's just what it is...and there's no need to describe it. Only to experience it and just feel it.

Life's been rather intense over the last little while. I don't mean this in a bad way, but I've been hitting all kinds of emotions. Although I should feel somewhat drained, I couldn't feel more refreshed. I couldn't feel more alive. I've been thinking about all this - though I've been told, by many, that I "think too much." But I get caught up in my thoughts. Lately, there are thoughts that I shouldn't be having, things that I shouldn't be doing and feelings I shouldn't be having. Too many don'ts and not enough do's.

So I'm here listening to Donuts and thinking, when I should be listening to Donuts and just being.

Too many Do's, too many Do Not's and not enough Donuts.

But those damn thoughts...

they linger still.

Mar 7, 2006

Breakfast Sausage (Confessions of a Sinner)

I had the most amazing breakfast this morning. Eggs, potato salad, breakfast sausage, fresh bagels, orangina drink and coffee.
"Astaghfiralla! Pig meat? Haram!" You exclaim.
And I say, "Yes, I know, I am a sinner."
In fact, I have been "sinning" for quite some time and thought I would finally come out to you as a breakfast sausage lover.
Now I know some of you out there are disgusted and horrified by what I've said. And I completely understand. But seriously though, what is it about eating pig meat that makes it the ultimate taboo?
I know plenty of Muslims who have sex before marriage, don't pray, drink alcohol and gamble, but god forbid, they will not touch the pig meat. Why? Because they are "Muslim." What is up with that? I mean, I'm not trying to encourage the eating of swine, and I'm not challenging people's relationship to Islam (God knows we all have our complex negotiations). I'm just trying to figure out what it is about eating pork that makes it more haram than, let's say, masturbating for some people.
Not sure.
But I would love some light shed on this.


Mar 5, 2006

Radical Woman of Color Carnival
(Second Edition)

WOW. Lots of persistence and amazing energy has gone into creating this carnival (which is so damn needed)! Check out the Second Edition
Big ups to the board of editors! All your work behind the scenes is much much much appreciated.

Mar 2, 2006

Girls Night

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