I’ve been recently collaborating with the organisation of FemoCo 2013 – a Joint Conference of Feminism of Color in Germany, done by and for us: Women, inter and trans, who consider (our) themselves as Black, of Color, Jewish, Muslim, living in exile, Roma, Sinti or Migrants. White women not allowed and, of course, no cis-men either… I can’t even start to tell how uncomfortable people would feel about it! And how hard was to answer their accusations of being radicals (no news on that) and discriminating people.
I must confess it took me some research too, since the term People of color (PoC) is mostly used in the U.S.A., where racialization and racism are much more of an issue.
Common experience of discrimination and racism
The common denominator of PoC is being non-white (people of African, Asian, Hispanic and/or Latino, Pacific Islander and Indigenous heritage and/or ‘mixed-race’) and, therefore, sharing a communal experience of racism and discrimination. PoC are those so-called minorities that are in fact the stunning majorities in the whole world.
On the one hand, I wonder who cares what my heritage is and, more important, why on earth should they care. But the sad reality is that lots of people care, and in a negative sense. How do you reverse centuries of negative discrimination? (BTW, still not supporting quotas?)
Divide et Impera.
PoC talk a lot about community, (bulding up) our community, where we share love and respect for each other. Where you talk about whatever seems urgent and important; debate and dream over common (political) goals. Where you discuss with your fellow-human beings hurting and traumatic experiences of racism and brave and empowering stories of resistance.
Might not have heard of the term before, but I know very well about this racism people of color suffer. One short example: in the auto-proclaimed ‘París de Latino-América’ (Buenos Aires), people would derogatorily talk about ‘los negros’ (the blacks); but not really about black people, but “negros de alma” they would add, referring to people who are ‘black from their souls’. Do I need to further explain in how many ways this is racist and wrong?
There’s a lot written and discussed about feminism being a white-middle-class-fully-body-abled-women’s movement. For this group, for a long time main ‘spokesperson’ of feminism, classism, racism or other discriminations were not relevant as issues.
Feminists of color, in the tradition of black feminism and the womanist and mujerista movements, underline that feminism is an emancipatory movement that should fight against all kind of oppressions, focusing on the intersectionallity of multiple discriminations women of color suffer: due to race, ethnic, class, cultural background, religion, ability, sexual orientation, sexual identity, migration background,… AND sexism.
Sorry, but you are not welcome. FemoCo was about co-creating a safe space where women of color could openly and safely discuss and share about all of these vital experiences.
Won’t even say a word about cis-men. Regarding white feminist, they have organized thousands of conferences before, by and for them; this was just one were they were not that welcomed.