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.

12 Comments:

Blogger nubian said...

hey pq--
can i add this link to aprils radical woc carnival?

it raises a lot of good issues and critiques concerning the carnival.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

Yes of course you can nubian, I was gonna submit it but wasn't sure if it was appropriate for the topic...i'm still working away on another piece and hopefully will get it in by the end of the day.

12:38 PM  
Anonymous tmj said...

You are very right! I do think it is partly our baggage issues as women and women of color, but also we have been indoctrinated to fight with each other by a system that does not have our best interests at heart. The scariest thing for a white supremacist would be to see all people of color unite. We are taught to be distrustful of one another, to believe the stereotypes about one another's culture, and to hurt one another to get ahead. All ideas not necessarily natural to our cultures.

The sad thing is that this systemic approach of disunification is often the source of our baggage, so in reality the problem is the same.

The only solution would be to be able to see what we are doing--to be able to stop and say, "what am I saying/doing?" and try to retrain ourselves. Easier said than done.

Oh, and thanks for submitting this to the carnival!

12:34 PM  
Anonymous sL said...

hey pq,
i came across your blog while i was looking into the kind of activist work muslim women are doing (being a woman of color muslim myself). it's a great blog site. i just wanted to mention that a few weeks a CBC documentarian (Iranian male) approached me because he wanted to do a doc about sexuality and muslim women. he wanted to talk to muslim women about their experiences with muslimness (i guess) and sexuality. (heavy, loaded topic) would you be interested in learning more about this doc and would you want to participate in this. please email me at rshamim23@yahoo.ca if you're interested. thanks

12:07 AM  
Blogger Aaminah said...

Asalaamu alaikum sis.

Hey, I was working on something to go up on my blog on a related topic too.

You are so right that solidarity requires work and trust.

This past week there was a huge demonstration of local Hispanics against the ludicrous new laws our govt is trying to enact. Those laws will affect ALL immigrants, legal or not, Hispanic, Arab, African - everyone. And of course in the long run it affects non-immigrant (whatever that means since they all came from immigrant blood too) people. But the way the march was organized was very secretive to specifically make sure that no non-Hispanics were part of it.

Now I totally understand why Hispanics are taking this personal and I'm all for them demonstrating. But to shut out the rest of us who stand in solidarity with you, and who are also affected...that's just stupid and rude. And unfortunately, what it said to many in our community was that the Hispanics do not consider themselves part of this nation. Of course that's not what was meant, but it is what was seen by their behavior. Never mind that they were rude to traffic, stood around on street corners afterwards appearing aimless (no signs in their hands) etc.

My husband, who is Hispanic, refused to participate once he was told that I - a hijab wearing Native American Indian Muslimah - was not welcome.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

Hey TMJ,

thanks for the comments. you're absolutely right, the "divide and conquer" deal gets played out amongst us, even those of us who are "conscious" of that...we've still got our own prejudices, privileges, etc. to deal with.

As for the distrust, it's at such a deep level it seems...it will require a lot of working on, difficult dialoguing...

2:45 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

hey SL,

thanks, the doc sounds interesting...It is a heavy loaded topic...wow.
I'll think about this, but will contact you.
thanks again.

2:47 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

Aleikum salaam aaminah,

some demos are understandably "exclusive", but there are others where it's important to bring in others (outside of your community)...particularly with demos that involve issues pertaining to people of color and their rights...we all need to connect and talk about intersecting struggles! But we both know the reality of it....and this demo you mentioned is an example of that.

It's not surprising that you were "not welcome" to the demo, but nevertheless so upsetting to hear. I totally get why your husband didn't attend.

by the way, I'm assuming he is Muslim, right? So I guess religion was not a factor in terms of him attending...so because he is Latino, he is part of the community and therefore welcome to the demo, right (even tho he is a Muslim latino man which makes him part of the wider Muslim community as well)?

2:57 PM  
Anonymous brownstargirl said...

hey lady,

i just went to look at your hott new friendster pictures and found your blog! very cool. i love what i've seen so far, and, damn, thank you so much for featuring my webpage!

i feel everything you're saying. and i'm such an ex-activist because of it, just cuz i got so burnt that i have a lot of fear about going into spaces (especially in toronto, where I know all the drama, or a lot of it anyway- when im in another city i have more of a sense that i can start fresh) because i'm just waiting for the shit to hit the fan.

do you know that book, letters from young activists? it just came out this past year, and they have a website (lettersfromyoungactivists.org, i think.) i like it cuz it's letters from different folks, mostly poc and with a lot of female/queer/trans representation, just talking on the real about shit. there's this one letter by Nilda Laguer that really hit home to me, where she talks about beefs within the movement and how we need to learn to just deal with it directly- t tell people to their face when we disagree, or when an action of theirs hurt us, and to listen and say what we think when someone's doing it to us, cuz so much of the time the problem is that noone feelc comfortable just saying it. which is understandable up to a certain point- of couse these are tense conversations, and of course maybe folks need to talk about it with their friends first, but so much of the time the issue never gets dealt with in the open and the groups just splinter. i totally implicate myself in this, i know i've done it. anyways, let's keep talking about it!

11:15 AM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

Ms. Leah!
friendster! lol - too funny...i'm so posing in that pic...but hey whatever! :)
thanks for the comments.
I actually hadn't checked out the website you mentioned and will most definitely do so.
the drama/bullshit within groups is totally draining...I stay away for a while but something keeps me wanting to go back to the group thing...it's like i'm a total masochist or something?
but ultimately, like you said, we should keep having those difficult conversations...keep the dialogue going..

PQ

7:30 PM  
Blogger with my nappy headed ass said...

Great post, I've been thinking about this myself. Often, the people of color I meet up with online and off are already in the mindframe of solidarity. One of the things that I can feel can help all of us is if we actually learn about the histories of other people of color. As long as we don't know each other's histories, the longer there is this massive disconnect.

It's the difference between being an old friend and knowing of the experiences, pain, and trauma someone has been through and making a new friend and learning all this. We need to learn our histories so that we can build histories together.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Pomegranate Queen said...

Wow - that is so ON POINT. I just commented to your comment in a post above and touched on this point about different histories of oppression!
completely agree with you on this. we need to learn each other's histories, and make those connections...

9:37 PM  

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