This past semester was an emotionally exhausting time for me. Much of that exhaustion arose from dealing with incidents of racial violence on campus, including the Brown Daily Herald’s publishing of a series of racist articles, the assault of a Latinx student by campus security officers, and the administration’s purporting to care about issues that affect students of color, to name a few.
When bluestockings published personal responses to the violence that took place, these responses were invalidated for their emotional content. I always wonder what people mean when they call my emotions an obstacle to finding my “true” and “objective” self. People talk about personal experience as bias that distracts from the goal of a transcendent, objective mind. Many of these same people would advocate for the “free” exchange of ideas.
But these abstract ideologies, not to mention their roots in Eurocentric thought and masculinity, assume a level playing field among a diversity of voices. They place spaces for conversation within a post-civil rights era of post-racial equality. However, in this post-civil rights era, I repeatedly experience racism in spaces of discussion. Often I am cut off from conversation at the assumption that I can’t speak “articulate” English. And so, I struggle to see this “equality” in spaces that don’t consciously center people of color. The culture of discussion in which we live is predicated on the uplifting of white people’s voices at the exclusion of the voices of people of color.
In this time of transition, one of bluestockings’ goals is to emphasize an important argument made by Black feminism: that the personal is political. Emotions, as they are experienced only by those who live them, are a form of knowledge. Personal narratives reveal the complex ways in which oppression works throughout people’s lives. For those who hold marginalized identities, emotional responses to violence reveal agency amidst oppression. They are the fuel for fighting toward justice.
With this in mind, bluestockings aims to center voices that have been erased. These are the voices of people who bear the burden to disrupt a status quo that denies them their livelihood. We aim to center Black and brown people, queer and trans people of color, disabled people of color, those affected by multiple intersections of oppression.
To those white, rich, cis, straight, able-bodied people who think that I’m excluding them, take a look at white fragility, #NotAllMen, #AllLivesMatter, and try to find where your conception of injustice lies. To white people who claim to care, I will not believe your claim until you understand that expecting me to explain my oppression to you augments the burden I bear. If you truly care, find the empathy you claim and look for the narratives that have already been written out of the burden placed on people of color to critique a system that just won’t listen. If you won’t do the work, you’re complicit in the erasure of discourse written by people of color and the further burdening of people of color to do the labor of showing you to your ignorance.
Enduring the pain of 2015 can only make us stronger. With 2016 ahead of us, we hope to make bluestockings a space for love, for community care, for solidarity in the work toward justice.
We are regaining our footing.
We are working through a period of transition.
We are taking a breath to recollect.
Last semester magnified an enduring truth. Voices of color can no longer rest as the parenthetical at the end of our lengthy sentences. People of color will no longer be an afterthought in our conversations.
As a publication grounded in an intersectional framework, bluestockings must constantly acknowledge that term’s origins in the struggles of Black cis and trans women. And, in doing so, bluestockings must commit to centering those narratives.
In past semesters, we’ve learned that bluestockings should not, and cannot, be a space that accommodates the “learning” of those who subscribe to white feminism(s) at the expense of people of color, whose lived experiences are not reducible to academic thought. I don’t have time for white allies who aren’t down for the revolution. This fact necessitates a shift from ways of being that characterize–and indoctrinate us into–the academy. My hope is that bluestockings emerge as a platform through which we subvert the ideals that founded our oppression(s). We will continue to only publish content that doesn’t reinforce structures and/or ideas of white supremacy, antiblackness, capitalism, transmisogyny, ableism, and heteropatriarchy. We must continue to provide space for students of color at Brown and beyond to voice their concerns and demands for justice outside of the terms of the institutions that were built on the exclusion of our ancestors. That said, we must also interrogate the multiplicity encompassed within the term “POC” and provide a platform to illuminate the myriad and distinct experiences of people at the intersections of several marginalized and historically-resilient identities.
This departure from academic doctrine also means a renewed and reaffirm commitment to making our content accessible by considering ability more intentional in the redesign process for our website. We must work to narrate ourselves outside of the terms of our oppressors.
What I’m thinking about now…
Is feminism by itself enough?
Can intersectionality, in its most abstract sense, really be the starting point?
Feminism, in its most whitewashed, neoliberal, and carceral formations, has been historically used to promote ideals that ignore the nuance of intersectional experiences and to perpetuate policies that target people who hold marginalized identities. That is the essence of reactionism. The origins of intersectionality have been erased from its mainstream usage. It is far too easy for people who are complicit in structures of oppression to hide behind the word and claim wokeness.
The only feminism(s) I’m interested in are those that contest the boundaries of the white supremacist capitalist transmisogynist heteropatriarchal status quo and, in that resistance, carve out spaces of mutual creative survival.
Wishing you all the stars and the moon and the sky,