This week in my Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Senior Seminar we started reading an anthology of essays called Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today's Feminism (2002). The collection is edited by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman, with a foreword by Cherrie Moraga - it is a response to and an expansion of both This Bridge Called my Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981) and Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation (2001). The essays featured in Colonize This! are all written by women of color, and highlight their individual experiences with white, middle-class feminisms that live in the academy, as well as their experiences negotiating their multiple identities, honoring their mothers and re-defining feminism, and creating new communities around these conflicts and realities. I have to say that so far, I absolutely love this collection, because it is not only radical and relevant, but utilizes accessible language.
That being said, in my class today, we discussed the complications of being a white reader of a book that is intended for a "women of color" audience. While there is an immediate emotional connection that I made with these essays (as a woman, as a feminist, as a budding activist), I have to acknowledge and interrogate my position of privilege, and be careful to not consume these real material experiences of women of color. We talked about the importance of acknowledging one's personal contributions to theories of feminism like this: what genealogies went into making me, as a white feminist? How did these layered histories contribute to/demand the formation of theories of difference and women of color feminisms? How can I use this text to inform the ways I want to complicate and move away from these histories of colonization, oppression, privilege, and white feminisms?