Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Women of Color": Love It or Hate It?

Back in college, when we conceived the idea for this blog, Cris and I dreamt it would be a publication with a message of empowerment for women of color.

That's still one of our main focuses, but as you may have noticed, we've branched out a bit with our topics.

Now to me, that terminology evokes the image of strong women. Women who, after so long being regarded the "other" in juxtaposition to white women, have taken back by their power in proud proclamation. Plus, that phrasing sounds so much better to me than minority women or ethnic women.

However, I was on lunch break (I know everything happens on lunch) with my boss, watching Tyra Banks. At some point during the commercial interruption, we watched an ad for make-up that was targeted at "women of color." My boss, who is white, was upset. She believes that color implies that she has no skin pigment. And that color hearkens back to a time when all people were broken down into the categories of whites and coloreds.

Honestly though, I do think it is necessary to market this special make-up as foundation for darker-skinned gals can be harder to find. And really, since race is not scientifically based, but rather a construction based on factors such as our skin color, I think it's fair for us to say that we are "of color."

As for white women being offended at being called color-less, I say deal with it. We've got our whole lives defined by our brownness, dark or light as that may be. Since our coloredness has so long been our identifier, and with as many things that have been ascribed to us because of our non-whiteness, I see no reason to be inclusive. Call it reverse discrimination, whatever. But I don't know of too many cases in which peach-skinned Americans were treated poorly because of their skin color. Things would be different if colors, black and white, weren't also used as racial categories.

Let us reclaim this term for ourselves. As women of color, we could let ourselves be weighed down by our double burden - sexual & racial discrimination, barriers, and glass ceilings. Our we can celebrate our awesomeness. I like to use the term to do the latter.

But enough about what I think. What do you think?


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