Today I was able to participate in the womyn of color conference. It was an interesting and empowering experience, and I was really glad I was able to attend. Sometimes the material and information we learn about in school can be very disheartening and frustrating, so its nice to see that there are spaces available to discuss the intersectionalities of our identities. The conference offered a place for a variety of voices, and there were enlightening conversations during the various workshops. Some of the workshops included in the conference were: “Self Love, ‘You are perfect just as the creator made you'”; “Mujeres Making Media: Working in Solidarity for Our DREAMs”; “Radical consent for the Lover Activist”; and “Roles of Women of Color in Media.” Furthermore, the conference also provided an opportunity for various cultural orgs to present their talents such as Los Mejicas, Sabrosura, AATAT, Poets Corner, Halulan, and much more.
Some of the major themes that arose today were: to be critical, and express your inner essence in whatever manner you deem as long as you are representing yourself for yourself. This means a person should not feel ostracized by other so-called feminists criticizing them for “conforming” or wearing makeup and wearing dresses. A person should be able to curl their hair without feeling less of a feminist. However, I think it is important to emphasize the distinction that when a person succumbs to gender norms such as embracing femeninity, its not necessarily because of societal pressure or the media. Some activists may embrace their essence through dressing up as a form of expression. This was something that really struck my attention, because to be a womyn activist I always thought I had to challenge gender norms by letting my leg hair grow and not wearing make up. However, now I know that I shouldn’t worry so much about trying to present myself in the correct manner. I am who I am and I should dress however I like even if that mean one day wearing pants, a shirt, and a tie, then the next day choosing to wear a skirt and a pink shirt. I shouldn’t have to worry about being judged.Womyn activists range in styles and we shouldn’t feel limited or restricted. Be who you are, and listen to your inner essence.
Below are two short summaries written by two different individuals who participated in the Asian American Caucus and the Chicana/Latina Caucus:
At the Asian American/Pacific Islander Caucus, despite the small attendance, there was a productive conversation on AAPI representation at the conference and issues for AAPI womyn at our own campuses. We discussed our theories about why so few Asian Americans are involved in activism and organising on campus, for example the way our families can discourage questioning and challenging authority. We talked about whether or not our parents were even more restrictive of us because we’re womyn! Some of us mentioned that standing up to dominating white men in our classes–even classes specifically about Asian American history–was easier said than done. We also brought up recent issues for us specifically, like the “Tiger Mother” Amy Chua, whose book about “Chinese” parenting was both detrimental for Asian American stereotypes, but also a sensitive issue for all of us who have different relationships with our mothers. Questions raised in the caucus:
-How can we make sure Asian American womyn are getting our voices heard?
At the Chicana/Latina Caucus many interesting conversations were put forth that challenged many dominant perceptions about the terms and labels we use to describe ourselves. One student who identified with her Guatemalan culture felt that the term Chican@ was used solely to describe Mexican-American people. However, another student responded that Chicanismo is not just a label for Mexican-Americans, it is also a process and state of being in which you care about the development of your community. After having a discussion about the various term, we each had the opportunity to go around the room and describe how we identified ourselves. Some students described themselves as Chicana, Latina, Mexican, Mexican American, Bi-sexual, a human, a person, an indigenous person, or Afro-Colombian. Therefore, all the terms people used to describe themselves may have differed but ultimately it was clear we are wonderful and beautiful who have rich history. Furthermore, we are people of struggle and resistance and we need to hold our heads high.
In conclusion, I’d like to thank all the people who spoke and participated in the womyn of color conference. Thank you for broadening my horizons. At the end of the day I can say loudly and proudly: Somos mujeres y que?