What's been happening in Arizona is horrific on so many levels to so many people and communities – but it has really had me reflecting. When do certain issues get considered "feminist" and when do they not? And when do they require a real feminist response in action?
My full-length interview with Chally, who talks about her love of sci-fi, why it's problematic to have feminist "icons," her experience as a teen in social justice movement, and of course, the internet! (The post title is tongue-in-cheek, by the way, she's anything but, as you'll see.)
But besides having "safes" (that's what my aunties used to call them) on the brain from that exhibit (and of course the fact that I work in sexual and reproductive health day in and day out), I came across a great article on Alternet by Kate McKay Bryson entitled "Use a Condom, Save a Polar Bear? Not That Simple" about the many factors besides human overpopulation that contribute to our environmental crises.
Lately I've had my fair share of run-ins with the hipsters and hippies who appropriate Native culture in various ways, as well as the hippie/hipster "culture" at large, and have become increasingly annoyed at their depiction/co-option of my ethnicity as a First Nations person.
I know my parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles have had to deal with this in their time and it's certainly not a new thing –but it's 2010 and not only does it still continue strongly to this day – it's taken some interesting turns down the erasure of true origins road. This isn't a hate letter, or reverse racism (as if there were such a thing!). It's also not an attempt to discourage you from finding out more about Native people – and in fact I strongly ENCOURAGE you to do some actual research and knowledge seeking so you might get our culture right and think twice about things like permission and respect before you act on your appropriation.
I'm proud to be an Indigenous feminist and I'm not apologizing for it. In fact this very statement "Native Feminisms Without Apology" was the title of an incredible conference in 2006 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign I so wish I would have been at.
So why am I not apologizing for being a Native feminist? Because I get serious flack for it - from all sides. On the one hand I'm not Native enough if I call myself a feminist. On the other hand I'm not feminist enough since I'm pointing out there's a mainstream movement I really don't like.
Now I've written about Indigenous feminism here, here, and here, but based on several recent requests I've received about it, I thought I'd also make a mini reference list of some great resources to check out.
No one likes to be pigeon-holed into any kind of stereotypical box, but the long history of colonization and oppression of Indigenous people has shoved us so far from mainstream public view (and blogosphere, I might add) that it's no wonder there exist these warped, outrageously wrong ideas about who we are. No, we don't all live on reservations (more than 140,000 urban Natives live in LA alone!) and yes, we are currently one of the fastest-growing populations. With over 750 First Nations in (what we now call) the United States and Canada alone, it's unrealistic to think that we're all the same. Well I'm here to make the record clear, and encourage you to fiercely challenge what you think you already know.
Truth time for y'all about me: I'm at a point in my identity and activism where in many spaces I no longer feel comfortable just saying that I'm a feminist by itself without adding a few words before or after. I say I'm an Indigenous feminist. I say I'm a hip-hop feminist, a reproductive justice feminist. Like many folks, I feel like I've been burned out by the mainstream usage and representation of feminism and I'm not making any apologies for what I call myself and I will talk more extensively about Indigenous/Native feminisms in another few posts.
However today I came across this blog post today on Girldrive called, "What's wrong with this feminist picture?" which detailed the absence of women of color in all the attention being paid by Newsweek and some other mainstream media to feminism as of late.
No surprise there. Look who controls the media, the power, privilege, etc.
What I did find interesting was that the author stated: "What really gets me is that the majority of young feminist activists do think of feminism in an intersectional way. Just look at the blogger rosters at blogs like Feministing, Feministe, or Racialicious. Just look at the staff at organizations like WIMN or INCITE! or the ladies in Girldrive. Young feminists are trying not to make the same mistake that some Second Wave white feminists made of being blind to race issues. "