By Chelyse Prevost
Blog Content Contributor
Since Black History Month has been coming to a close, it seems the world is all too prepared for the celebration of Women’s Day on March 8th. We have days and months like these to show both appreciation and awareness for marginalized parts of society. However, these holidays can push the struggles of people who face a double minority out of focus. Women of color face an intersectionality that can cause an entire population of leaders, intellectuals, and providers to fall subject to discrimination in education, politics, the professional world and various opportunities to be self-sufficient. Women of color have been the backbone to revolutions, pioneers to invention and innovation, and the voice of reason and change all throughout history, with or without credit. That said, while we’re in between seasons, I say we dedicate March 1st through March 7th to the contributions of women of color as an official Women of Color Week.
Ethnic minorities are often taught to believe that they must fight twice as hard to get half of what they deserve, and as for women, they’re expected to do so with grace. Being a minority through both ethnicity and sex makes breaking the barriers of institutionalized norms all the more difficult, especially without representation for the younger generation. Even with women like Michelle Obama and Sonya Sotomayor, women of color are notoriously represented as promiscuous, loud, and angry beings across mass media platforms. In film and television, they’re all too often given roles as single parents, sidekicks, or otherwise token for comic relief. So much so that actresses like Viola Davis who’s had a groundbreaking career of empowering female roles can be claimed as the “black Meryl Streep” and continue to be underpaid. Yet the discrepancy in the amount of women of color socially appreciated and credited publicly for their accolades goes unnoticed. A Women of Color week would help commemorate the truly honorable minds that represent women of color in America and all around the world.
Women of color have had to face overwhelming criticism for how they look since time. Whether it be for their complexion, body shape, or the texture in their hair, society taught that even if we’re beautiful, we’re only beautiful for a woman of our race. At one point black and afro latinx women were forced to wear scarves on their head to hide their hair patterns and now, in an age where culture is being globalized into fashion and entertainment, we see people of all cultures wearing headscarves and other traditional 3A+ hairstyles. The cultural appropriation of women of color is how customs like henna tattoos, kimonos, and box braids become mainstream trends. Otherwise, the parts of their culture that isn’t desired is frowned upon until it can be duplicated. Women of color have traditionally had full lips and voluptuous shapes yet the phrase “Kylie Jenner lips” and Kardashian type figures are trademarked. Culture is virtually fluid and it’s representation can often encourage it’s celebration, but acknowledging the origins of these customs would let those who don’t know the heritage behind these trends pay homage to the women who facilitated them.
Both men and women all over the world put themselves on the battlefront to seek changes in social inequality. While society continues to march, boycott, and fight, communities of women of color are in a vicious circle about what battle they should be fighting to the core; are they women first or a people of color? More than that, there’s a larger divide in the class of “feminists” because on one side there are women who want the liberation and empowerment of all women and on the other, women who just want these advances for women that look and live like them. Women of Color Week would help liberate women of different backgrounds in education and economic status who aren’t heard because of their intersectionality. A week devoted to women of color would offer the much-needed exposure to a demographic whose existence is vital to the welfare of our society. Women of Color week wouldn’t be anti-white women but pro-multicultural women in that it stands to empower all women, steading the platform we’ve needed for far too long. Enough #WomanCrushWednesday’s, let’s talk #WomenofColorWeek.
Featured image by Chelyse Prevost.