Feminists of color fight for equality

Feminists are fighting for a united cause, but still find divisions in their community due to racial issues according to Brittney Cooper, a co-founder of Crunk Feministic Collective, Monday night in the Eastern Michigan University Student Center.

“You cannot build a feminist world that is racist,” Cooper, who is also an assistant professor at the University of Alabama, said.

CFC creates a community for queer and straight hip-hop generation feminists of color.

Cooper said SlutWalk, a walk started in select cities in 2011 to combat blame placed on sexual assault victims and the idea that “slutty” clothing or behavior invites sexual assault, is central to white women’s experience and not black women’s experience.

Cooper said slutiness and slut-shaming is central to white women’s experience with denigration of sexuality, whereas other words or terms are used to denigrate the sexuality of black women. She said if “sluttiness,” centers around white women’s experience with sexual denigration, then this doesn’t leave space for many black women in the SlutWalk movement.

“I want the movement, I just want the terms to be inclusive in a way that’s not dangerous,” Cooper said.

Cooper said third wave feminism came about in about 1990 or 1991 and is the way people talk about contemporary feminist movement building, but often fails in its inclusion of feminists of color.

“It’s come to largely be identified with white women and not, in fact, women of color,” Cooper said.

Cooper talked about groups that aim to increase the safety and respect of women and are more inclusive of the experiences of women of color.

Cooper said International Anti-Street Harassment Week is a movement designed to stop harassment women undergo when walking through their neighborhoods that can become a prelude to rape.

“This was a context in which women of color were centered because in working class communities this is how you get to work and the school—you’re walking,” Cooper said.

Stopstreetharassment.org’s definition of street harassment is “unwelcome words and actions by unknown persons in public which are motivated by gender and invade a person’s physical and emotional space in a disrespectful, creepy, startling, scary or insulting way.”

The dates for International Anti-Street Harassment Week are March 18-24 and will involve universal sharing of stories, challenging of the social acceptability of street harassment, deciding what can be done in communities and taking steps toward ending it, said stopstreetharassment.org.

Cooper said the workshop, Feminism 101, was facilitated by the CFC to teach young girls of color about challenges females face in American society.

The CFC’s blog said they see this workshop “not as an end, but as a beginning of building relationships, acting as mentors and big sisters, and working with these young women to create a brighter feminist future.”

“I wake up black everyday, but I also wake up as a woman and I just want a world in which both of those things can matter and be valued equally and all of the other parts of my identity as well,” Cooper said.


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