writings by radical women of color

whitewickerchair  asked:

Hello, I was wondering if you could recommend me any literature on chicana feminism/xicanisma. Side note; thank you so much for this blog its very eye opening and helpful!

Thanks! Here’s a classic: 

“This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color is a feminist anthology edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria E. Anzaldúa. The anthology was first published in 1981 by Persephone Press, and the second edition was published in 1983 by Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press. This Bridge centered the experiences of women of color, offering a serious challenge to white feminists who made claims to solidarity based on sisterhood. Writings in the anthology, along with works by other prominent feminists of color, call for a greater prominence within feminism for race-related subjectivities, and ultimately laid the foundation for third wave feminism. This Bridge has become “one of the most cited books in feminist theorizing.“ 

More info: 

Where Were the Chicana Feminists? Right Here

Chicana Feminist Thought: The Basic Historical Writings

 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicana_feminism

8 Latina Feminists Who Deserve More Recognition

You can also check out my posts here: http://profeminist.tumblr.com/tagged/latina-feminist

Hope that helps!

[In] the white gay community there is rampant racism which is never adequately addressed or acknowledged. My friend Chrystos from the Menominee Nation gave a poetry reading in May 1980, at a Bay Area feminist bookstore. Her reading consisted of poems and journal entries in which she wrote honestly from her heart about the many “isms” and contradictions in most of our lives. Chrystos’ bluntly revealing observations on her experiences with the white-lesbian-feminist-community are similar to mine and are probably echoed by other lesbians of color. 
Her honesty was courageous and should be representative of the kind of forum our community needs to openly discuss mutual racism. A few days following Chrystos’ reading, a friend who was in the same bookstore overheard a white lesbian denounce Chrystos’ reading as anti-lesbian and racist.
A few years ago, a white lesbian telephoned me requesting an interview, explaining that she was taking Native American courses at a local university, and that she needed data for her paper on gay Native Americans. I agreed to the interview with the idea that I would be helping a “sister” and would also be able to educate her about Native American struggles. After we completed the interview, she began a diatribe on how sexist Native Americans are, followed by a questioning session in which I was to enlighten her mind about why Native Americans are so sexist. I attempted to rationally answer her inanely racist and insulting questions, although my inner response was to tell her to remove herself from my house. Later it became very clear how I had been manipulated as a sounding board for her ugly and distorted views about Native Americans. Her arrogance and disrespect were characteristic of the racist white people in South Dakota. If I tried to point it out, I’m sure she would have vehemently denied her racism.
During the Brigg’s Initiative scare, I was invited to speak at a rally to represent Native Americans solidarity against the initiative. The person who spoke prior to me expressed a pro-Bakke sentiment which the audience booed and hissed. His comments left the predominantly white audience angry and in disruption. A white lesbian stood up demanding that a third world person address the racist comments he had made. The MC, rather than taking responsibility for restoring order at the rally, realized that I was the next speaker and I was also T-H-I-R-D-W-O-R-L-D!! I refused to address the remarks of the previous speaker because of the attitudes of the MC and the white lesbian that only third world people are responsible for speaking out against racism. It is inappropriate for progressive or liberal white people to expect warriors in brown armor to eradicate racism. There must be co-responsibility from people of color and white people to equally work on this issue. It is not just MY responsibility to point out and educate about racist activities and beliefs.
—  Barbara Cameron, “Gee, You Don’t Seem Like An Indian From the Reservation” in This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color

Taking she social out of social constructionism–What is perhaps most fascinating about postmodern theory is that for all the talk about how things are socially constructed they forgot the implications of “social" in social construction. After their supposedly new insight that nearly everything is socially constructed, they do not advocate much for transformation at the social level, ie. for changes in institutions, social norms, social structures such as the family, etc. Instead there is mush attention to individual acts of transgression of conventional social norms as a way of highlighting that social norms are constructed and not natural or inevitable. This kind of rebellion in postmodernism is a very isolated activity—it consists of individuals taking it upon themselves to fight battles all alone. There is not an emphasis among postmodern theorists for building a critical mass of people united in a social movement which could begin to effect change at the social level. There is instead a very superficial understanding of how social forces work—a naive and libertarian emphasis on individual actions and choices as though the cumulative effect of each isolated individual choice or action will effect largescale social transformation. The net effect of such an atomization of individual activities serves to prevent rather than foster social change.

The curious timing of postmodernism


What is most interesting about postmodernism is not what postmodernists sayabout it, but how it functions in the real world (and I’m assuming there is one) in terms of social change. The effects of the intimidating and obfuscating writing style, of inhibiting generalisations and so the formation of commonalities between people, of ruling out binary thinking, and so eviscerating impassioned convictions, and of overemphasizing individual rather than collective action is to cream a multilayered system of disconnection, silencing, and disempowerment.

What is also interesting is the timing of the advent of postmodernist theory. As Somer Brodribb and Barbara Christian point out in Radically Speaking, postmodernism came into vogue in academia just when the voices of women and people of color began to assert significant presence there.

I suggest that postmodernism is nothing more than the new relativism and that relativistic theories emerge as a new line of defense when power structures are becoming threatened. It is a very insidious and crafty defense because it mouths the words of liberation while simultaneously transforming them into meaninglessness. The real agenda is masked in clever obfuscation— to preserve the status quo by rendering dissent meaningless and ineffective, unable to gather any social or political power. Notwithstanding postmodernism’s purported intention to deconstruct social norms and by so doing, make way for changes, its actual effect is to atomize peoples’ experiences, obliterate the potential for solidarity, silence articulate and forthright speech, and render passionate convictions meaningless. It leaves us unable to condemn anything as wrong or oppressive with clarity, certainty, or conviction. Furthermore, nearly all of the so-called insights of postmodernism are simply rehashed and depoliticized versions of radical feminist ideas. Postmodernism is a theory which denounces the act of theorizing, it is speech that silences voices, it is writing that stultifies and obscures, it is a position which advocates no position at all, it is a politics which refuses to take a stand on anything. And we must see the politics of that—it is a viper that women’s studies and English departments have nursed to their collective bosoms. It is a theory, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. It is a stealth theory that contains a virus which, once incorporated, explodes all possibility of impassioned righteous collective action for changing the conditions of our lives.

by karla mantilla

I am talking about what is happening to us right now, about our nonsupport of each other, about our noncaring about each other, about not seeing connections between racism and sexism in our lives. As a child of immigrant parents, as a woman of color in a white society, as a woman in a patriarchal society, what is personal to me is political.
—  Mitsuye Yamada, “Asian Pacific American Women and Feminism” from This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color
Summer Reading List

Now with even queerer texts and a handy online checklist.

  • Americanah - Chimamanda Ngoze Adichie
  • The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende
  • Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others - Sara Ahmed 
  • The Cha Cha Files: A Chapina Poética - Maya Chinchilla 
  • Discourse and Power - Teun Van Dijk
  • Twilight of Equality? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy - Lisa Duggan 
  • Como agua para chocolate - Laura Esquivel
  • Malinche (English) - Laura Esquivel 
  • Gay Latino Studies: A Critical Reader ed. Michael Hames-García and Ernesto Javier Martínez.
  • The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo RevolutionC.L.R. James 
  • State Repression and the Labours of Memory (Contradictions of Modernity) - Elizabeth Jelin 
  • Varieties of Spanish in the United StatesJohn Lipski
  • Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History by Heather Love
  • Queer Migrations: Sexuality, U.S. Citizenship, and Border Crossings - ed. Eithne Luibhéid and Lionel Cantú Jr.
  • Enduring Violence: Ladina Women’s Lives in Guatemala – Cecilia Cecilia Menjívar
  • Redefining Realness - Janet Mock
  • This Bridge Called My Back: Writing by Radical Women of Color - ed. Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa 
  • Me llamo Rigoberta Menchú y así me nació la conciencia - Rigoberta Menchú, ed. Elizabeth Burgos 
  • Disidentificati​ons: Queers Of Color And The Performance Of Politics (Cultural Studies of the Americas) - José Esteban Muñoz
  • Clybourne ParkBruce Norris 
  • Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalis​m in Queer Times (Next Wave: New Directions in Women’s Studies) - Jasbir Puar 
  • El beso de la mujer araña -  Manuel Puig.
  • From Macho to Mariposa: New Gay Latino Fiction – ed. Charles Rice-González and Charlie Vázquez.
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of PilgrimageHaruki Murakami
  • Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity Julia Serano
  • The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the AmericasDiana Taylor
  • Negotiating Performance : Gender, Sexuality, and Theatricality in Latin/o America – ed. Diana Taylor and Juan Villegas

There is something insidious and pervasive about heterosexual feminism, something that makes me question my own validity. Heterosexual feminism and its narrative is so centered around women and a woman’s relationship with men - for obvious reasons, of course - but the very language of heterosexual feminism makes me, as a woman-loving woman, feel as if I am not part of the narrative. Heterosexual feminism assumes that lbpq women and trans women do not face oppression under (cishetero)patriarchy the way straight women do. 

I see so many straight women complain about the tokenization of femininity, and I wonder if they realize that gender non-conforming women, particularly butch lesbians, are never taken seriously or seen as actual women because of gender expectations. I hear straight women “wish” that they were bisexual because it’d “give them more options” or that they were lesbian because “their lives would be so much easier”, and I wonder if they understand how terrifying the intersection of homophobia and misogyny is. 

It’s something I’ve always felt, deep in my bones, even when I was a 10-year-old girl. I’m not gender non-conforming but I’m not particularly feminine either. And yet I could never understand a straight woman’s complaints or stories about men, about her wishes to have a marriage with pomp and circumstance, about her desire to mother many children, about the various brands of makeup she uses. I wonder if straight women understand that motherhood is much easier for a cishet white woman than it is for a woman of color or for an lbpq woman or a trans woman. How many lbpq and trans women wish to get married and have a big home with kids and a puppy? How many lbpq and trans women have those futures stolen away from them? How many lbpq and trans women, especially if they are women of color, have to worry about surviving the night and feeding themselves and escaping abuse before they even think about marriage or children? 

When I try to point this out, heterosexual radfems will jump at me and claim that I’m “minimizing” the trauma that cishet women face at the hands of men. I’m not - I understand very well that patriarchy oppresses all women, regardless of geographical borders. But there are qualifications and clarifications to this oppression. I wonder how many lbpq and trans women have had to bite their tongues and swallow what they want to say and just nod, smile, and state “I totally agree” when straight women speak. I wonder how many of them look at their bodies and think that they are worthless compared to cishet women. I wonder how many of them feel physical repulsion when cishet women glorify mediocre men for being conventionally attractive. I wonder how many of them feel their voices falter when cishet women congratulate men for passing the bare minimum of human decency. I wonder how many of them feel anger flare up when lbpq mothers, mothers of color, and trans mothers are thrown under the bus through a combination of sterilization, police brutality, xenophobia, imperialism, the prison industrial complex, racism, ableism, misogynoir, transmisogyny, and lesbophobia while cishet women congratulate single fathers for knowing how to change a diaper. 

I always feel disconnected from my body and my experience as a woman when straight women write poetry about their “accursed” attraction to men or when they use feminist rhetoric that only belongs to them. It’s like when cis Western women make “radical” art celebrating a cis woman’s genitalia (and yes, I understand that in many parts of the world, sex-based oppression exists, but I see nothing radical about a thin white woman making art out of her glorified body) or advocate the “free the nipple” movement, or when heterosexual women make jokes about “fat, hairy lesbian feminists” and “slutty bisexuals”. I feel as if my body floats into the air, as if my own experience with misogyny is invalid because I’m attracted to women. When a straight woman told me that I’m as bad as a man because I have the “male gaze”, I kept floating. As if my body is no longer my own because I am not heterosexual. 

but i mean like, it’s just so lazy / blatantly transmisogynist to attack caitlyn jenner and her definitions of “womahood,” while also claiming that she speaks for the entire trans community.


like, you have to take into account the ways that her whiteness / wealth / conservative ideology influence her politics

and you have to be willing to acknowledge that trans people (or even trans women) are not a homogenous group who all spout the same moderate/liberal ideology

and you have to stop ignoring / erasing the radical trans women of color who have spent years speaking and writing about gender/sex as a social construction that has been violently enforced as a tool of colonialism


but nooo, it’s so much easier to just be transmisogynist and post bullshit about how “this one rich white trans woman said that womanhood is equal to wearing nail polish, look at how oppressive and misogynist the ~transgenders~ are”

vogue.com
Lupita Nyong’o on Winning the Oscar, Becoming the Face of Lancôme, and Her First Cover of <em>Vogue</em>

In little more than a year, Lupita Nyong’o has made the leap from serious student to Oscar-winning actress and head-turning fashion star. Hamish Bowles catches up with Hollywood’s newest golden girl.

I assume people have read this article before and I’m just terribly behind the times, but good god please read this. The language that is used to describe Lupita is so coded and radicalized and objectifying and tokenizing I can’t even remotely begin to articulate my thoughts about it. I’m writing an article on the portrayal of her for my Women, Gender, and Sexuality studies class (it’s called Gender, Race, and the Power of Personal Aesthetics & it’s about women of color feminisms in interaction with the media and I’m OBSESSED) and these articles are intriguing and disturbing.