Tuesday, October 9, 2007

WTF Moment: Comment of the Year

I vote this as the comment of the year:

I don't think it's much about race anymore, if anything I think it's class that plays a major role in our society.

Let me help with the context of this statement so that I can give this WTF Moment the justice it deserves:
I'm a teaching assistant in a college course designed to examine the experiences of women of color in the United States with a specific focus on how systems of oppression interlock to create the reality of women of color in the U.S. As a teaching assistant, I have the cool job of sitting back and listening to discussion while helping the professor steer the class. On this particular class session, students were asked to split into groups to discuss the social construction of race, including whiteness.

Now, for the nitty-gritty:
Sure, it was the great Black and Chicana feminists of the 1960s and 1970s that shouted out that first "WHAT THE FUCK!" claiming that as Black women and Chicanas, they had more to deal with than race, or class, or gender. Instead, it was the simultaneity of these oppressions, as stated by the Combahee River Collective and echoed by Chicana feminists, that produced their specific experiences as women of color in the U.S. In other words, oppressions could not be sifted and ranked. The particular way in which these systems of oppression worked together is what constituted and continues to constitute the lives of women of color in the U.S.--mine included.

How can someone in a position of inherent privilege as a white person in the United States say, "I was able to separate these systems and I find that class is the one system that oppresses you, women of color, the most." Excuse me, "WHAT THE FUCK!" How can someone in this context make such a statement without taking into account the position she occupies as a white person. What makes someone believe they have the ability to make such a statement? What scared me the most was that two other students in the group agreed with the statement and cited their privileged experiences in private school with middle-class students of color as evidence. The "if they can do it, anyone could" kinda thing. Meritocracy at its best. No joke.

To this I say, "WHAT THE FUCK!" Please take into consideration your white privilege and standpoint before you go on defining my experiences as a woman of color in this country.
Thank you.

No comments: