Truth, Sojourner. “Ain’t I a Woman.” Internet History Sourcebooks, 1851, https://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/mod/sojtruth-woman.asp.
In this speech, Sojourner Truth addresses the perception of Black women in society. Truth gives examples of how women are said to be treated – helped into carriages or over puddles – but says that she doesn’t receive the same treatment. This implies that only white women are seen as women. She points out all the struggles that she has gone through as a woman that are equal to the struggles of men. She has suffered through slavery and seen her children sold off. Truth says that men disagree that women should have the same rights as men, because Christ was a man. But Truth argues that Christ came from a woman. Truth’s speech shows the individual struggle of Black women.
Yamada, Mitsuye. “Asian Pacific American Women and Feminism.” This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, State University of New York Press, Albany, pp. 68–72.
In this essay by Mitsuye Yamada, she discusses the experience of Asian American women and the expectations put on them in the feminist movement. Existing women’s organizations have shown their lack of experience with Asian American women, and that they have a preconceived image of what they should act like. It’s like they are expected to be entertaining rather than educational, and are meant to not make anyone uncomfortable. The majority of groups do not make an effort to educate themselves about different cultures, and this burden is put on women like Yamada. She goes on to say that there shouldn’t have to be a choice between working with the women’s movement and working with organizations that help their ethnic communities. Yamada says that Asian American women will be unable to speak out until they feel safe and at home in the United States, which has proved to be difficult considering the ever changing attitudes towards Asian Americans.
Canaan, Andrea. “Brownness.” This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, State University of New York Press, Albany, pp. 232–237.
In this essay, Andrea Canaan discusses her experience as a brown woman in the feminist movement. Canaan talks about how brown people were discussed in comparison to white people, in that they were called lazy, uncultured, ignorant. While this was spread by white people, the brown community failed to combat this message, but instead made jokes and put down white people. This behavior stems from powerlessness mixed with pride. Canaan struggles with determining who her enemy is, but determines that it is not the white woman, brown man, or even the white man. The enemy is stereotypes and isolating ourselves from other groups. She goes on to say that the women’s movement is not just for white women, but for all women to have social freedom.
Wong, Nellie. “When I Was Growing Up.” This Bridge Called My Back, edited by Cherríe Moraga and Gloria Anzaldúa, State University of New York Press, Albany, pp. 5–6.
In this poem, Wong talks about her experience growing up as a Chinese American. She wished that she could be white. She saw her sisters’ lighter skin being praised, while her own skin was made to feel ugly. The women she saw on TV were blonde and white, and she imagined that she could look like them. The girls at her school sported expensive clothes and curly hair. She felt special when receiving attention from white men, and forced herself to be an Asian stereotype to please them. She felt ashamed of men of her own culture. She felt that her skin was dirty, while white skin was clean. Wong has shared the experience of many women of color who compare themselves to the white beauty standard.
Figueroa, Yomaira C. “Your Lips: Mapping Afro-Boricua Feminist Becomings.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, vol. 41, no. 1, 2020, pp. 1–11.
In this article, Figueroa addresses the multiple oppressions faced by Afro Latinas, as they are oppressed based on sex, cultural identity, and color. Afro Latinas are impacted by anti Blackness, and any feminist persepctives that do not include this are incomplete. The story portion of the article talks about a Latina family. The sister who is pale with long curly hair is considered the most beautiful, despite her cold personality. The author describes the lips of her female family members that have a perfect curve. When she attempts to put on the same lipstick as them, she is told her lips are different. At this point, she becomes aware of her blackness that comes from her father’s side. She tries to convince her family that she has a perfect kiss as well, but she is ignored. This story illustrates the discrimination faced by Black Latinas within their community.
Crenshaw, Kimberle. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review, vol. 43, no. 6, July 1991, pp. 1241–1299.
In this article by Kimberle Crenshaw, she discusses how different organizations fail to accommodate the cause of Black women. Although many women face the intersection of sexism and racism, this is not addressed within the feminist or anti-racist groups. One example that Crenshaw gives is an act passed by Congress meant to help immigrant victims of abuse with American spouses. However, in order to benefit from this, you must have access to this kind of knowledge, and speak English. Therefore, even though it was unintentional, many immigrant women will not have the benefits of this act. Crenshaw points out domestic violence against women in the Black community, and how Black women who speak out against it are seen as diving the community. The Black community is prioritizing the needs of Black men, and Black women are told to support this. Similarly, Black women are not the focus of the feminist movement either. For example, the Violence Against Women Act is sure to specify the problem as affecting “all women”, as a problem that only affected women of color would not be a concern of the government. Having an intersectional viewpoint will allow for people to become sensitive to the particular issues of women of color, and to acknowledge the gaps in their movements.
“Equal Rights Amendment.” Equality Archive, Equality Archive, 23 May 2018, https://equalityarchive.com/history/equal-rights-amendment/#more-233.
The Equal Rights Amendment simply states that equality of rights shall not be changed based on sex. However, this amendment has not been passed by Congress. The failure to pass this amendment shows the sexism still present in the United States. We have seen censorship from feminist writing and attempts to rewrite history. For example, calling slaves brought to the United States “workers”. Certain states still have restrictive laws against women, and these are the same states limiting education. Men, who make up the large majority of Congress, are attempting to take away women’s rights to their own body. The ERA can prevent this and allow women to have equal rights to their body. We need to continue the spread of information that effectively communicates the lack of rights for women in the United States.
“Analysis.” INCITE!, 6 Aug. 2018, https://incite-national.org/analysis/.
INCITE! Talks about women of color who are caught in the intersections of racism and sexuality. These women are often encouraged to not report domestic violence in order to not separate the community. It is also important to address violence against women within the larger context of political structures. We also acknowledge that the existing feminist movement is focused on white women and does not include the individual struggles of women of color. It is important to shift the view of the existing movement and center it around women and trans people of color, which allows us to have a more holistic view.
“Houston, Texas.” Women of La Raza Unite!
This declaration talks about the demands of Chicanas. Chicanas will use sisterhood in order to create a stronger organization and discourage division. There will be equal pay and unions, and equal opportunities to move up in the workforce. There will be improved access to clinics and education for Chicanas in the medical field. There should be access to trusted childcare, which involves Chicana staffing. Research will be conducted and spread concerning women’s rights, education, health, and labor. In terms of sex and marriage, there needs to be a readjustment of attitude. There should be less reservations surrounding sex, and for religion not to dictate our actions, since this mainly stems from the interpretations of men. This declaration has outlined the need for updated views and proper resources for Chicanas.
Einstein, Zillah. Combahee River Collective, 1978, https://combaheerivercollective.weebly.com/the-combahee-river-collective-statement.html. Accessed 2021.
This statement put forward by the Combahee River Collective addresses the Black feminist movement. Section 1 speaks about the origins of Black feminism and some of the earliest activists, including Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman. It was important to develop a movement that is anti racist, unlike the White feminist movement, and anti sexist, unlike some practices of Black men. Section 2 talks about the beliefs of the Collective, which is that liberation for Black women is as important as others, and should not be a footnote in other movements. It is important to look at things from an intersectional perspective because it is difficult to separate class from race from sex. Section 3 addresses the problems of organizing as a Black feminist collective, which includes the fact that Black women are fighting multiple types of oppression, and do not have any privilege to lean on. Lastly, Section 4 focuses on issues that the Black feminist movement will address. One of these is the racism that exists within the White feminist movement, and White women’s lack of effort to educate themselves and be inclusive of Black women. The Combahee River Collective statement is very effective in highlighting the history of the Black feminist movement, and how it intends to look in the future.