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September 2013

lisarosetta asked/commented:

Hi again, Trudy! I'm back with another question: Considering the psychological effects that white supremacy has had (and continues to have) on women of color, do you think that true solidarity is possible among Black and non-Black women of color?

Absolutely possible. In my own work and life, I’ve experienced that solidarity with non-Black women of colour. When Black women are under attack (which would be every single day, just as many other women of colour are under attack everyday) in addition to Black women who stand up with me, some non-Black women of colour have stood up with me. (Three epic examples online are @ChiefElk, @suey_park@NanticokeNDN.) In my life, (mainly) Black women and non-Black women of colour stand up for me more than Black men do (though a handful are supportive now and again). This is not exaggeration, this is not being a hater or “unsupportive.” This is a statistical reality that I could prove with an Excel spreadsheet and pie charts if I had the time.

An example? A Black man attacked me in defense of Tim Wise and said he wants him as his “spokesperson” and that I don’t speak for Black people. Conversely, @suey_park has been supportive of my critique of Wise and been letting Tim Wise know he gon’ get this work! And Wise went on TV to subversively insult her and other women of colour instead. This Black man called me the “oppressor” not Tim Wise. LMFAO. 

At the same time, I’ve experienced some really really bad interactions with non-Black women of colour, ones almost as bad as what I deal with from White women and Black men on the regular. And the bad experiences always reveal hierarchical thinking on their part where they view their identity not as positive culturally, but as “good” only because it is “not Black” and thereby “above Black.” Some of them act like how some White women do when they date Black men and throw it in our faces to “prove” that we are “inferior.” Anti-Blackness among non-Black people of colour is a real problem. White supremacy is the culprit. It creates stereotypes where some PoC are “model minorities” and others “criminals and whores” and others “illegals” and others “terrorists” and others simply erased.

The reason why solidarity between Black women and non-Black women of colour is difficult is White supremacy and its offspring colourism, how it impacts beauty norms (Eurocentric standards of beauty) and how patriarchy shapes this as solely for the male gaze. (And with non-Black women of colour and Black women, the heterosexual Black male gaze is an issue.) Add in sexism and heterosexism, where women are supposed to be fighting over and pining for men and the idea that women wouldn’t want any genders except men, and you have a sordid mess. 

As long as Black women and non-Black women of colour keep reaching out to support each other, as most of us share the race/gender/class triad of oppression which is globally palpable, we can make progress. But that progress cannot come at the price of colourist hierarchies, competition over the male gaze, and leaving Black women’s experiences and needs for last among women of colour. 

Solidarity is defined as a noun in the dictionary, but for me it is a verb. It is love in practice. It is feminism actualized. It is the understanding of differences, listening and collective work. It is also acceptance that sometimes individual work/space/conversation (i.e. a conversation/work solely among Black women) is okay. 

Also, see my essay related to this topic: Black or Person of Colour? Both. But Still Black.

Hope this answers your question. Take care.

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    yes, that.
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