This past June I was getting off my bus at the Greyhound Station in Boise, Idaho, to get my bag. The employee asked which bag was mine, I pointed, and he handed it to me, and as I was walking away a commotion began. The employee was sharing the handle of the bag begrudgingly with its rightful owner, a black man. The employee began shouting that the man was stealing the bag. The man protested that in fact, it was his bag and he could prove it if the employee would just release his property. The employee began thrashing the bag violently to get it away from the man while screaming that he was being harassed. After much struggle, with the man’s shirt torn off his body and one of his shoes strewn across the ground, the employee called the police. The police showed up to the scene and separately asked the men what had happened. Later the employee went back to work and the man was arrested with his bag, and his shirt was thrown away.
I recorded on video the altercation that happened between the two men. I also wrote a witness statement and recorded a witness statement with the police. When I asked them, why the man was being arrested and the employee was free to go back to work they told me that it was due to a company policy technicality that the man apparently did not follow. He apparently did not have a check-in tag on his luggage. Therefore, it seemed, as though the ‘unidentified’ bag was being stolen. But, I didn’t have a tag on my luggage, and neither did other white passengers who didn’t get asked or have a second glance given to us when taking our bags.
When I watched that man be driven away in the cop car, hand cuffed and behind bars, I was frustrated. I was frustrated with the police for handling the situation poorly and giving the white guy the benefit of the doubt. I was frustrated because I knew that if that man had been white he would have been given his bag without a tag, and without a problem. I was frustrated because even though I told the truth and did the best to do the right thing, I was powerless.
When I think about defining “White Privilege,” I think about how it has affected me in my life. So many moments that I can’t seem to name a specific one. When searching for “white privilege” definitions, it was hard to find some examples. Here is what I found:
“White Privilege: the fact of people with white skin having advantages in society that other people do not have. The concept of white privilege explains why white people have greater access to society’s legal and political institutions.”
Feminism? What is the significance or meaning of that word?
When searching different sites, I found many definitions.
“the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.”
“Feminism used to be about women getting the same rights as men, such as the right to vote and equal pay at work. Now feminism is a movement full of women who seem to think that their ability to push a baby out of their v***** titles them to bigger and better everything.”
“the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes and organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests”
“A feminist is someone who supports equal rights for women. If your brother objects strongly to women being paid less than men for doing the same job, he’s probably a feminist.”
A word that holds a lot of controversy. Wow. No wonder many people can either be in favor or against feminism based on these definitions. When I asked myself, “How do I define feminism?” I tried to find the right response that makes sense to me. I put a lot of thought into it and here is my response. A while back I saw a picture on Facebook about fairness. Link here…
Equity vs. Equality!
There is a huge difference. For example, Equality is about everyone being fair and being treated fairly. While Equity is about equipping people with the same resources to have the same shot at something. If everyone were treated the same (for example, in this picture boy number three would not be able to see the game. While in the second picture, boy number two and three were given the resources to be able to see the game like the first boy.) Applying it to Feminism, it’s not about being treated better it’s being giving the same resources to be able to succeed in life, workforce, education. When women do succeed it’s not celebrated. Most treat it as if it were not possible.
I asked a few of my friends what their definitions of feminism are. These were their responses:
“I define Feminism as equal pay in the workforce, no matter the gender.”
“Much more than women getting paid equal it’s also about bringing up everything that is wrong with society. Talking about issues that people feel uncomfortable talking about and taking a broader aspect.”
“Having equality and equity between all genders. Not just men having power but respecting and realizing that women can too.”
“Feminism is asking for equity in human rights. Nothing more. Men can be allies to the movement, so in a way, men can be Feminists.”
“Feminism is women being able to make decisions over issues that affect women and be treated socially equal to men.”
“What would you like to do when you grow up, mija?’’ asked my mom. This is a question that am I sure most of us were asked at some point in our lives. As a young Latina woman, this question always lingered in the back of my mind. Because I had an idea where I wanted to go. I wanted to go to college and get into a career of my choice. Currently, I am in college and my career is still in the works. I knew that when I would tell adults that I wanted to become a movie director, even an actress, but first receive an education. They would support me, yet I knew that they probably thought I could never make it. Who would take a high school student seriously with those types of dreams? Little did they know. After my parents realized that I was actually being serious about going to college, that it was truly something I wanted to do, they supported me in every possible way. Now they are my biggest supporters.
Yet many families still have the mentality that women should take care of the house and the children while men go out and work to provide for them. Those type of expectations are especially put on Latina women. My family would always tell me that if I didn’t go to college, then I would be expected to find a man that could provide for me because I wouldn’t go far in life without a man next to my side. Or that I would get pregnant and regret it later on. This made me begin to create negative thoughts in my head–I wasn’t good enough. Or I’m not college material, I’m not capable of finishing college and finding my dream job. There were times where I got so upset, even when I did come to college. But, then I would remember stories about Sonia Sotomayor becoming the first Latina in the Supreme Court, or Gina Rodriguez winning a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in Jane the Virgin. Continue reading “Latina Women take the Lead!”→
If you’re located on the UI Moscow campus, you may have noticed a beautiful orange beacon pop up in the Palouse Mall nearby. For some, it can be described as a place where dreams come true, where the colors of eyeshadows are just as flashy as the employee’s smiles. For those whose art is makeup and a face their canvas, the new Ulta has been a godsend.
Scampering down the aisles filled with brands ranging from those commonly found in Rite Aid to those found at New York Fashion Week, I noticed a common theme: unless your skin happens to be porcelain, eggshell, snow, or milky cloud white, there’s not much for you.
Only a handful of brands create foundations and other beauty products in deeper shades. Even if a makeup line does come in deeper shades, it’s often difficult to find them in stores. If you’re a womxn with a dark skintone, it’s nearly impossible to make a quick run to Ulta and get color-matched.
For some womxn, going to a beauty store is as miraculous as finding religion. For womxn of color, makeup stores perpetuate Eurocentric beauty standards and colorism.
I love unique, colorful, and beautiful tattoos. I have one, a dragonfly, that I had tattooed on my lower back 15 years ago, and though I have not sought any others, I have come to admire the art that women have given their skin to. I also love serendipitous events. For example, when you are thinking of someone and they call, or in the case of this blog, when you are researching one idea and all of the information leads to the formation of an entirely new project. Thus is the case while doing research for an article on the word squaw. I was looking for information for my blog, reading various sites, and articles and books such as: “My Body, Myself” and Reading Native American Women and they all seemed to start to resonate with each other. It doesn’t stop there. I have been reading essays by Roxane Gay in her book Bad Feminist and in a couple of weeks, I will be teaching a lesson to another class about the poetry of Claudia Rankine, these texts read together, with my own personal interest, made for a choir of excellent reading.
Excellent reading, that along with the information I was gathering about the word squaw (an article I promise to post soon) created an awareness for me of something that I am almost ashamed to admit. I realized that many women have not had the same experiences with their bodies (at least the reception and expectation of their bodies) as I have as a Native woman. Though I think that as female we have shared many of the same experiences, such as discrimination based on gender stereotypes or medias portrayal of the ideal, Felly Simmonds’ essay, “My Body, Myself,” made me realize how many of my experiences, mostly negative, have to do with my physical body.
Loving your body is important on all accounts, but it helps so much when campaigns are launched and companies spread the love for the human body. In a world where Victoria’s Secret has its annual fashion show, sometimes it feels really good to see ads with other body types. We, as a society, are trying to move away from having to be thin and having the perfect assets and into accepting what we are born with. Now, this is inclusive for all women, right?
Well, not exactly.
While the current body positivity movement is all fine and well, women of color among others are being left out of the scene. If you look at Dove’s campaign photo above you can see that the majority of women who are used for the campaign are white. Other campaigns have the same method going, so when first looking at it, you might think this is not much of a problem. So, why are all women not represented equally when it comes to body positivity?