Colonize This will make some readers uncomfortable to the contributors' honesty and in some cases anger. The various entries bring race to the center stage and this in itself will cause some readers to shift uncomfortably as they re-think their own particular privilege.
This book is ideal in a women's studies classroom or ethnic studies, english, or sociology. I think the book would be best served by also reading _This Bridge Called My Back_, since so many of the contributors refer to _Bridge_ as causing their "click" of feminism.
Colonize This isn't your typical academic tome, but a personal (and political) book that should cause some lively debate.
Rehman wrote in the Introduction to this 2002 book, “They’re just going to use our pain as an excuse for more violence… It’s what I hear again and again in a city that is grieving, that is beginning to see what other countries live every day. But where does women of color feminism fit into all of this? Everywhere. As women of color feminists, this is what we have to think about.” (Pg. xviii)
They both explain, “When we began editing this book, we knew only a little about each other. We were two dark-haired women who moved in overlapping circles… It was while editing this book, however, that we realized how much a Pakistani-Muslim girl from Queens could have in common with a Catholic, Cuban-Columbian girl from New Jersey… we chose the title of Cristina Tzintzuin’s essay for this book in order to acknowledge how the stories of women and colonization are intimately tied… To colonize is ‘to strip a people of their culture, language, land, family structure, who they are as a person and as a people.’ … As young women of color, we have both a different and similar relationship to feminism as the women in our mother’s generation… now we talk about these issues in women’s studies classes, in classrooms that are multicultural but xenophobic and in a society that pretends to be racially integrated but remains racially profiled…
“We hope that this book will introduce some of the ideas of woman of color feminism to women who have thought that feminism is just a philosophy about white men and women and has nothing to do with our communities. We also want this book to deepen conversations between young women of color. We believe that hearing each other out about our differences and similarities is an important step toward figuring out how to work with whatever divides us… We know that one book can’t do it all, and our lack of money and time made it difficult to reach women who also lacked those resources. But we hope that this anthology will inspire other women to fill in our gaps and move the work forward and deeper.”
To give you a brief idea of the essays contained herein, here are some excerpts:
Cristina Tzintzuin’s essay states, “I remember reading Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation and being angry that the book contained only one Latina contributor, who I was only able to tell was Latina, not by what she had written but by her Spanish surname. I felt the book had represented many other minority groups well, but I felt invisible. I find it frustrating that when most books mention womyn of color, that ‘color’ and ‘gender’ are presented as something separate. I am not just a womon or just a person of color---I am a womon of color.” (Pg. 27)
Paula Austin comments, “I have only to look at my mother to see it is possible to be both femme and feminist. For me and for many poor and working-class women who have struggled to support themselves and their families, who have struggled to be strong through the physical and emotional manifestations of oppression and colonization. The stories my mother has told me about herself… these stories I keep alive and recount as evidence of the strength of the women in my family.” (Pg. 168-169)
Almas Sayeed observes, ,”There are few guidebooks for women like me who are trying to negotiate the paradigm of feminism in two different worlds. There is a delicate dance here that I must master---a dance of negotiating identity with interlinking cultural spheres. When faced with the movement’s expectations of my commitment to local issues, it becomes important for me to emphasize that differences in culture and religion are also ‘local issues.’ This has forced me to change my frame of reference… learning to be a committed feminist and still keep my cultural, religious and community ties.” (Pg. 214)
Tanmeet Sethi recalls, “Today I sit in a café with two Western women who are disturbed by the burkha. I explain to them that it is a tool of oppression in some countries and in others, some women choose to wear it. They shudder at this thought as they sip their lattés. One is encased in makeup and wears a tight shirt with capri pants. Another wears a midriff shirt and jeans with her =hair flowing over her neck and around her face. I explain that many women in the world use the burkha as a symbol of power, as a statement of their value system. Women who wear the burka refuse to be judged by their body or face. They want to be seen as another being, not as a sensual object. In this way, the burkha can be a tool of empowerment.” (Pg. 254)
Susan Muaddi Darraj notes, “It struck me that many of the women I met could be considered feminists, perhaps not by the standard of the white Western feminism that I had encountered in my feminist theory class, but by the standards of a different feminism---one that allowed women to retain their culture, to have pride in their traditions and so still vocalize the gender issues of their community. These were women whom I considered feminists because they believed in the dignity and potential for upward mobility of every women; they wanted to erase class lines between women; they worked so that they could have choices in their lives and not be channeled into one way of life.” (Pg. 301)
This is a really exceptional collection, that will be “must reading” for anyone interested in feminism and the women’s movement, the thoughts of (mostly) young women of color, and persons in general struggling to find their identities in the modern world.