women v. minority

SPinto_at_EDC@ccmail.edc.org
Wed, 17 Jul 96 14:54:21 EST


I am writing as a newly inducted member into this list not only to greet you all
but also to suggest that we think more carefully about the way we use language.
The opposition between the terms "women" and "minority" has a long history that
has been challenged since its conception. In feminist circles, the word "woman"
has meant "white woman", and thus "women, has historically meant "white women".
The term "minority" likewise has its own history and its correspondent meaning
"non-white men". Historically, also, the challenge to these two definitions has
been present pre-Sojourner Truth, although Sojourner Truth's question is the
first question and approach on record that illustrates a woman of color's
efforts to get people, white people and non-white men, to acknowledge her
existence not as an offshoot of white woman or non-white man. Second wave
feminism has been the forum of many of these discussions as well, only now we do
have record and access to many texts, conversations, and ideas that challenge
those two notions. For 26 years now, women of color have been writing
tirelessly about the inadequacy of the apparent and compulsory opposition
created between these two terms. When I hear, read, people maintaining that
opposition I wonder if anybody is doing their reading, since, after all, women
of color understand what they are talking about and most of the explanations are
written for the benefit of Anglos. Sojourner Truth's question is relevant when
we, as women of color, are in the process of justifying and establishing
ourselves as human in the presence of "white women"; that is, since non-white
men know that we are women. That question is not relevant among women of color
because, really, we KNOW we are women. The fact that equity educators still
maintain this needless dichotomy, that is unless we are invested in making white
women the epitome, the standard, for what it means to be a woman, makes me
nervous. As a woman of color, I ask if I should trust equity initiatives that
STILL refuse to acknowledge my child as a girl-child regardless of the fact that
she's not white.
You may ask how to deal with the language issue since I am sure no one means to
tell me my child is not a girl or a person affected by the cruelty of white
racism. I guess that being a woman of color has its plusses since I am not
afraid of speaking the unspeakable: white women and people of color, or women
and men of color, or minorities█ that is, since after all, ALL women are
minorities. I mean isn't that what the logo "Sisterhood is powerful" was
supposed to resist, the fact that ALL women are minorities?

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