Women on the waveBottom Highlights, Scene Out Thursday, October 23rd, 2014
Social Chaos: Scene Out
Af3rm held its National Summit and 25th anniversary celebration Oct. 11-12 at the Social Justice High School in Los Angeles. Over 400 women-identified participants attended the two-day summit to examine the issues that impact transnational, im/migrant and women of color and to transform, build and lead the next wave of feminism. The summit was unique in that it placed special emphasis on the need for each individual to participate fully and also collectively in the movement for women’s liberation by envisioning and manifesting a new and just world.
We heard amazing women during the three plenaries Saturday, Oct. 11. During plenary 1, “Five-Continents Feminism: Examining Transnational, Women of Color Feminisms and the Need to Theory-Build in the Era of Imperialism”, we listened to Grace Chang, Thandisizwe Chimurenga, Rosa Clemente and Ninotchka Rosca talk about what we have done thus far as women in different movements and our constant growth in creating new theories and imagining new ways of resisting. Rosa Clemente also spoke about how she wanted to go to the “Weekend of Resistance” in Ferguson, Mo. Her 9-year old daughter told her that she needs to go because “women of color get killed too.” Women show up as expected in support of many movements but when it’s a protest about women’s rights, our brothers are not usually there for us, our issues are often overlooked. Even in LGBTQ organizations, it’s very patriarchal and white. On top of dealing with the issues, we also have to deal with being disregarded and not having our voices heard when we’re fighting for the same thing.
During the “The New Wave of Feminist Leadership” we listened to four young women, Zeena Aljawad, Ashley Hernandez, Asmara Shan and Alkrizzia Villapando. They spoke about the importance of youth activism beyond changing individual behavior and into systemic change through specific strategies within their respective communities. We were happy and proud to see that more and more young women are identifying themselves as feminists.
The panel on “Transnational Feminism: Our Activism in Action – Insight into the Practical Application of Ideology in Praxis” included Olivia Canlas, Myra Duran, Catherine Mendonca, Ivy Quicho and facilitated by Kristen Jackson. Whereas the previous panels talked about theories, this panel talked about activism in action. Cathy has been active in the San Diego community for over four years and is co-founder of United Against Police Terror which will be holding a “National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality Rally and Light Brigade” Oct. 22 at the City Heights/Weingart Library and Performance Annex starting at 6 p.m.
AF3IRM is comprised of women from varying walks of life with an extremely wide range of experiences, interests and talents. It is a transnational feminist, anti-imperialist organization of women dedicated to the struggle of women’s liberation and fight against oppression in all its forms. To join the movement, visit www.af3irm.org.
Dear White People
We drove to Los Angeles Oct. 18 for the premiere weekend of Justin Simien’s film, Dear White People. The film follows four black students at a prestigious, majority-white college. It’s a satire about “being a black face in a white place” as the promotional materials state.
The movie approaches important issues with a mild manner. The issue with this approach is that only some patrons will actually get the prejudice and discrimination that we face on a daily basis. Although, there’s something to be said when things like equal pay for equal work isn’t obvious to the majority.
Tension builds up throughout the film and ends with a controversial party thrown by one of the fraternities. The film shows each character struggle with their individual issues, from walking on eggshells in terms of family acceptance to trying to fit in by not stirring “controversy” with their white classmates which could be as simple as speaking up about unequal housing practices.
The main character, Sam, who is the host of the radio show “Dear White People” and (we find out later in the film) is half black and half white is not afraid to be outspoken and tired of being marginalized. Although on the outside she was very much “afrocentric”, she was struggling with her own identity as a biracial woman who felt like “she had to pick a side” to feel accepted. The movie doesn’t impose ideals on the audience. It presents the situations that we, as people of color, face in our daily lives. It, quite simply, shows our reality. It elicits laughter from the audience because we have dealt with these situations that are frustrating but at some point become sadly comical in the fact that we’re thinking, “This cannot be happening … again”. Even having a person of color in a position of power doesn’t guarantee that everyone’s rights will be upheld and concerns “lifted” as we see with Dean Fairbanks (Dennis Haysbert).
In the film, an invitation was sent to the students with outright racist language. Instead of outrage, white students showed up with racist “homemade” costumes. The party attendees had no issues appropriating other cultures.
As Halloween nears, these racist costumes will no doubt show up in your social media newsfeeds. The film shows several photos from recent years of racist parties from around the nation. This racism is very much alive in the LGBTQ community. From white gay men appropriating black women, someone making jokes about Asian culture because they’re dating an Asian person, mocking of Native American culture, to someone wearing a sombrero, an exaggerated mustache and a donkey. Being discriminated as an LGBTQ doesn’t give you some kind of “pass”. Something to think about: the clothing that you think is “cute” or “cool” means something entirely different to the cultures you’re taking them from. When you think of those things as costumes, you ignore the significance and make light of them. It’s offensive, it’s theft and it’s not harmless fun – it’s painfully racist.
Watch the film, take it in and learn something. Do not be the reason why films like this are necessary to show how much people of color have to deal with on a daily basis. For show times, visit www.dearwhitepeoplemovie.com/
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