Everywhere and Nowhere: Contemporary Feminism in the United States

By Jo Reger | Go to book overview
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5
Grappling with Oppression and Privilege

We are the colored in a white feminist movement.

We are the feminist among the people of our culture.

—CHERR IE MOR AGA AND GLORIA ANZ ALDUA, This Bridge Called My Back, 19831

Is it possible to construct a feminist genealogy that maintains inclusivity? Does feminism
still exist for women of color or is it just a “white thing”? Are generation X women of
color participating in feminism?

—REBECCA HURDIS, Colonize This!, 20022

PUBL ISHED ABOUT TWENTY years apart, these two statements speak to the continuing need for U.S. feminism to acknowledge and address issues of racism, privilege, diversity and inclusivity in the movement. The first statement comes from the groundbreaking volume This Bridge Called My Back: Writings of Radical Women of Color, an anthology born out of a need to address racism and the marginalization of women of color in the second-wave generation. For contemporary feminists, this anthology is often their first introduction to the history of issues of feminism, race, class and ethnicity.3 The second statement is from the anthology Colonize This! in which young women of color speak out about their struggles to identify with U.S. feminism and call for white, middle-class, Eurocentric feminists to recognize their biases and prejudice. Contemporary feminist Rebecca Walker, often credited with sparking a “third wave,” argues that “capital F Feminism needs an overhaul” and that it is time to address racist feminists (among others) “who are so far removed from the street they can’t organize their own wallets, let alone a rally.”4 The 1980s and 1990s saw the emergence of multiple anthologies and books that tried to do exactly that—overhaul feminism. Colonize This! responds to “the profound disappointment in white feminist theory to truly respond to the specific cultural and class-constructed conditions of women of color lives.”5 These repeated critiques shaped a generation of feminists who see

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