Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Women's History Month: Labels and Identities


As American society becomes more diverse and integrated, pressure and discomfort remains when talking about racial and ethnic differences and designations. President Obama's background and ancestry has brought a lot of discussion and sometimes confusion..."Why does he say he's Black when he's bi-racial?"

I self-identify as a woman of color.  As a "mixed" or biracial woman, it has been a comfortable label and I've often felt that it's clearer when people ask or I have to explain. But I've never known the origin of the term "women of color," or honestly thought about it how the term came to be.

In the above clip, Loretta Ross, reproductive justice founder and National Coordinator of the Sistersong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, discusses the origins of the phrase "women of color" and the difference between political identity and biological identity. The designation "women of color" was a political strategy not just cavalier terminology. It was a call to action demonstrating the power and strength in numbers of voices of marginalized women. She asks us to think about our reasons for holding onto specific identities.

Watching this clip I'm reminded of the importance of knowing our history as women in this country and all over the world so that we have some proper context to what's happening in our current lives as "modern" women. It also reinforces the idea that women working together are a force to be reckoned with!

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