Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Loretta Ross and Identifying as a Woman of Color

Loretta Ross, who is the National Coordinator of SisterSong, is a main speaker at many of the conventions and I was lucky enough to find a video of her on YouTube giving a lecture on “Reproductive Justice 101” (which I will post at the end of this entry).  While I was listening she made a comment that really caught my attention.  To sum it up she says that “you are born biologically whatever you are born, whether it be Afro-American, Latina, afro-Caribbean,  but you CHOOSE to become a woman of color when you choose to work in solidarity with other oppressed women.” She continues to say, “it is not a biological destination, it is a political acceptance.”  This is a very important concept that I do not think is thought about very often in the minds of any women.  Just because we are a certain ethnicity does not mean we are necessarily identifying ourselves with it. It is easier being a white woman because we are the majority and so when we fight for a cause we have better odds of getting other white middle class women on board because our numbers are so high to begin with.  So these women of color may just jump on the bandwagon and follow the mainstream movements that are supposed to be fighting for “all women” but are not always fighting for issues that will better the minority groups. It all goes back to “if you want something done right, you’ll just have to do it yourself.” That is where Ross’ argument of choosing to become a woman of color comes in. Women have to be choosing to become involved with these groups and really represent your culture and stand up to try and make a difference. Sweeping these issues under the rug, like those of reproductive justice for oppressed women, and waiting for someone else to fix them is basically saying you do not identify with those women and its not your problem to deal with.  As women, if we cannot even identify with our own ethnicities and genders, how will we ever get any high class white male legislatures to identify with the issues of reproductive justice and help to better the situations of the oppressed women dealing with being denied their rights of having, not having or parenting their children.

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