While I have been largely absent from the comment section both here and elsewhere, I have been keeping check on all of the amazing women of color bloggers around the radical feminist internet. What that means is that I often have at least one head nod and one head desk every morning before logging on to twitter to say hi in real time to any woc bloggers out there. For me it has been a nice way to blend information and engagement or radical community based knowledge. Not only is there the reading and thinking that blogs provide but then the almost immediate chance to talk abt what is written there with the author and others jumping into the discussion. We are a community on twitter as much as in the blogosphere.
Today I want to take that process one step further and spread the link love:
Alexis @ Broken Beautiful Blog has a post up about Pauli Murray, a Black Feminist, Civil Rights Lawyer, and Radical Preacher. I did the bulk of my graduate work in WS/ w/ feminist historians who would later help build WS programs and it is one of three departments in which I am a core faculty member; I have never heard of Pauli Murray. (deep sigh) If the number of hits on this blog for the Women of Color Feminist Posts and the Black Herstory Posts are any indication, there remains an overwhelming thirst for knowledge about women of color’s contributions to both historical and present feminist, womanist, mujerista, pro-woman activism and especially from those women who identified as feminist or community based women’s activists. (Those posts are 2 of 3 subjects that receive the most hits on this blog, the other is queer people of color movie reviews.) This is why I love Alexis, across the internet and in her academic-activism, Alexis Pauline Gumbs works to re/raise awareness about black feminist women throughout history. As part of this work, she encourages reading groups, artistic expression and connection, and engages people on both the web and in real time. While her post today is simply an announcement for a group meeting to honor Murray, I think what she has done in such short space is exactly the kind of feminism that inspires and engages. First, she tells us just enough about Murray to wet our appetites. Then she provides the information for how to do your own research on Murray. And finally, she promises a thoroughly researched and yet conversational event at her place in Durham complete w/ archival images and recordings and a potluck. It is this kind of vision and communal connectedness reaching out into the vast virtual space that makes me proud to be a feminist. (And yes, I am off to look up more on Murray.)
Noemi of Hermana Resist, has another short post on Vegans of Color announcing a new vegan cookbook/zine with classic Latina recipes. Not only is she helping to make the transition to a more ethical diet easier for people of color with her proposed work, but she is also looking out for working class and subsistence level women and students by focusing on menus for people with non-traditional cook tops. What that means: if you do not have stove, these recipes are for you. In many areas surrounding Pov U, homes don’t come with stoves and when they do they are often broken so that only one burner works or the oven can only be on for short periods b/c it over heats and poses a fire hazard. Even in rentals this is a common problem and the more rural the county, the less likely access to a traditional oven becomes. Many of my grad students local to the area are proud of ovens that “kind of work” in their homes. For them, Noemi’s cooking zine represents both a lifesaver and communal wisdom. It takes the love of a mother for her culture (Mexican-Puerto Rican) , her world (veganism), and her fellow mamis (women) to create this zine. More than that it shows particular radical woc feminism that centers working class struggles and honors the knowledge of hard working women. In so doing, it destabilizes the idea of veganism and environmentalism as the terrain of upper class white youth and thoroughly grounds it in woc survival. Like Alexis, Noemi is also taking a communal approach to her work. This post is a call for recipes and wisdom so make sure you drop some and join the chorus.
Sylvia @ Problem Chylde has an introspective post about embedded classism in higher ed and its meaning for working class women of color. The raw honesty of her post strikes me as profoundly radical precisely because it exposes not only the theoretical vulnerabilities of women of color in academe but also the very real experience of it in Sylvia’s life. It reminds me of an essay Patricia Hill Collins once wrote about arriving at college feeling prepared, after working hard to get there, and then watching her roommate unpack her cashmere sweaters. PHC writes that she marveled at all of the sweaters, one for every color she could imagine; when her roommate saw her looking, she apologized for having so many ratty comfort clothes but she couldn’t help it. This scene is recognizable to almost every graduate student of color I have mentored and is one I remember myself. Experiences like PHC’s and Sylvia’s are also the reason many of my returning students of color tell me they left undergrad, disillusioned and thinking higher ed was not for them. For those of us who endured, Sylvia’s insight about what it is like to go from the false middle class image we put on to fit in to under or unemployment, to look around at all the things that were so essential to passing and calculate how many needed resources were directed to it instead of to things we now need is powerful prose. For me the communal feminism in Sylvia’s post is in her willingness to be brave and tell the truth many of us know in print. She lights the way for other working class students, particular women of color, to take stalk in the lessons we have all learned too late and make different choices or join her in finding peace on the other side by speaking out. For people who take middle class “finery” for granted, like many of my colleagues at Snooty Poo U and elsewhere, it also reminds us that higher ed is predicated on a certain kind of elitism that often marginalizes women of color and rural students the most while penalizing them socially, economically, and sometimes intellectually for failing to pass. I believe Sylvia’s words are as powerful as Collin’s or Kadi’s ( see my post on Joanna Kadi Thinking Class here and here) in helping women recognize the process, become self-aware, and unite with one another in healing or changing the system. If that’s not radical feminism, I don’t know what is.