March 1st marks the beginning of Women's History Month; also known as 31 days during which I am subjected to the celebration of white women's accomplishments and victories, many of which have come at the expense of women and communities of color.
During this month, "exceptional" women and "important" milestones are celebrated. We hear about and honor the suffragettes, whose campaign for the right to vote was rooted in racist and exclusionary politics. We laud women such as Hillary Clinton, who told Central American refugee children to "should be sent back" and whose support for her husband's policies "decimated black America." We call women like Sheryl Sandberg, whose formula for workplace success depends heavily on her worldview as a wealthy white woman, revolutionary.
But you see, revolutionary means something completely different to me. My Women's History Month celebrates the migrant women in detention centers who find ways to resist even in their captivity. My Women's History Month honors women like Lesley McSpadden, Michael Brown's mother, who marched to mark the 50th anniversary of Selma and denounced the systemic racism that killed her son and so many others who look like him. My Women's History Month recognizes women like my professor, Alicia Schmidt Camacho, who was arrested last week at a rally calling on President Obama to stop the deportations of Central American refugees. My Women's History Month uplifts and elevates women of color who struggle every day to make room for ourselves in hostile spaces and fight to break down structures that keep us down.
This Women's History Month, I refuse to celebrate a white feminism that keeps women of color on the margins. This Women's History Month, I refuse to celebrate a white feminism that alienates, subjugates and oppresses women of color. I don't want to be hear about the first Latina [insert public office title] or the first Asian [insert professional sports title]. I'm sick of women of color only being mentioned and deemed worthy when we are the "first," when we fit neatly into a box crafted by white women's version of history. We have been, are, and will always be "exceptional" and "important."
I don't want a whitewashed feminism that tokenizes, fetishizes, and abuses women of color. You can keep your Taylor Swift squad goals, Ready for Hillary, Ban Bossy feminism. I want Nicki Minaj's "Miley what's good?" feminism. Beyoncé's ***flawless feminism. Sandra Cisneros' "becoming a woman comfortable in her skin" feminism. Toni Morrison's thick love feminism. Warsan Shire's give your daughters difficult names feminism. Maya Angelou's still I rise feminism. Gloria Anzaldúa's mestiza consciousness feminism. Ntozake Shange's for colored girls feminism.
I want a feminism and a women's history that puts women of color at the center. At the heart and soul of the narrative. Because if anyone knows about heart and soul, it's us. Because we've learned to turn pain into art. Because, as Gloria Anzaldúa reminds us, "even when our bodies have been battered by life ... we make a home out of the cracks." Because we've made a way out of no way. Because as Delores Williams tells us, we are sisters in the wilderness. I refuse to celebrate your whitewashed feminism. I commit to celebrating mis mujeres, en la lucha.
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