I spent my Friday and Saturday with some wontabular (wonderful, fantastic, fabulous, spectacular) womyn at Catch a Fire, mentioned it a few times here and here. Connecting with other Caribbean women who identify with both the name and/or the politics of feminism was such a wonderful experience. I did a lot of my feminist academic training in very white North American space. My activist and community feminist spaces were again North American but with womyn of colour and indigenous womyn.
9 years ago however, even 2 years ago really I never would have thought… If I could write a letter to my younger self right now I’d say don’t be afraid of this powerful (feminist) politic. It’s not foreign to you as an individual, your culture, your anything. There are womyn all over your region and the diaspora making these meaningful connections and something incredible will come of it. Be patient, tread steadily, your community awaits you.
Out of the grounding came powerful, enjoyable and challenging moments. Reflecting on the challenging moments I am reminded of the difficulty of dealing with privilege. We are in the age where we’re getting better at identifying privilege. However especially when we possess it we cannot figure out how to confront, unpack and/ or dismantle it. My big 3.
The disconnect of the international, regional and local levels of activism. An olderhead testified that one of her major criticisms of regional feminist activism of her yester-generation was that they did not do nearly enough on-the-ground mobilising and hoped that the same would not be true of future activism. Reflecting on this I realised I have witnessed two things in my organising of past:
- In an effort not to be thought of as solely academic feminists/ activists we are very focused on ensuring we are as “grassroots” as possible. In doing this we
convenientlydissociate ourselves from ouracademia.
- Those working at that international level oblivious to the privilege of their position and often genuinely disconnect from the very people they are working to support.
I maintain that all levels of activism are important but what makes them powerful is that their players are all equally valued, respected and in conversation with each other.
Though not necessarily individually, we were a privileged group. We were funded, had a comfortable meeting space (that was not wheelchair accessible) and among us were many a university degree. That in itself is a disconnect from large numbers of women and men our work seeks support and empower. Even those words, support and empower are problematic… Though raised, the challenge remains, how do we make it different for our next meeting? For our next project(s)? For our work? Class privilege is unwieldy dammit!
I have been in many queer positive spaces in my life. Both in the Caribbean and in North America. This was yet another one of them which was lovely. I have enjoyed straight privilege most of my life however I am mostly read as queer outside of being in a relationship with men. Many womyn in the group identified as lgbtqi and spoke to their experience. However very few (myself included) spoke to their experience of straightness. I greatly appreciated a post my another member who spoke to this silence post-meeting which so beautifully encapsulated how I feel about my own sexuality which makes me simultaneously shy away from labeling myself (b/c it’s so much more complex than any label but also want to identify/name) and speak to the privilege of straightness.
On a lighter note: the snacks were great, partner yoga is super fun and much fyah is being added to region with work that is being done.
I know I post this just the other day… but I feel plenty of this same sort of energy at a Catch a Fire.