Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Living Purple in a Lavender World…It’s a Social Change Perspective!

This is a guest post by Maxine Ariot

"What I know for sure is "The greatest value a person can attain is full humanity, which is a state of oneness with all things, and willingness to die so that the best that has been produced can continue to live in someone else."  Alice Walker. I am a recent graduate from American University with a degree in Women and Gender studies. I am a woman in transition who believes that theory can be a source of healing."

When I say “I am not a feminist” the glances from the room full of women suggests only my ignorance, and lack of knowledge, superseded by the argument that society is the culprit for my misguided and socialized understandings of feminists as angry women.  As the discussion develops, the group insists that, indeed I am a feminist, reluctant of the name because of societal repercussions.

Reluctant? No! It has nothing to do with societal feelings and everything to do with the barriers within the feminist community.

The feminist community has been unsuccessful in capturing the voices of women with special regards to the intersections of race, class, ethnicity, and sexuality.

Often enough women of color remain restricted by the pretence “to be seen and not heard” in feminist activism. As a result WOC have found new theoretical frameworks representative of their everyday experiences.  

“Womanism is a social change perspective rooted in Black women's and other women of color's everyday experiences and everyday methods of problem solving in everyday spaces, extended to the problem of ending all forms of oppression for all people, restoring the balance between people and the environment/nature, and reconciling human life with the spiritual dimension for it has been uniquely these moments of discrimination where I have found myself to be a woman who is seen and heard.” Layli Phillips

Womanism is more than a theoretical concept; it is realistically applicable to everyday life experiences and is an insurmountable source of healing. Its liberatory practices are personal and build universal strength because of one voice choosing to speak against, that is the value of being womanist natured. As a womanist, fulfillment of one transition to the next is the ability to advocate through voice, mind, body, and spirit against oppression. Our strength builds from the context that we overcome suppression by simply speaking out against oppression no matter how small the infraction.

As we participate in this kind of social justice we prepare the next generation for something better than what we have encountered and could have ever imagined.


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