As I went to the National Young Feminist Leadership Conference 2015 (NYFLC) with fellow bloggers, I experienced an amazing realization. I think it is typical for individuals to think they are alone in their marginalization.
At NYFLC, I met many individuals that allowed me to view various perspectives and also gain perspective on issues that I may not have thought about too much. I’d like to call these individuals my feminist pen pals. I can see myself calling on their opinion, perspective or even political dialogue in the future.
My favorite part of the NYFLC (besides Kimberlé Crenshaw blowing my mind with her insightful speech) was the dialogue I had in the Feminists of Color caucus. As part of the conference, there was an opportunity to discuss with other feminists about the political and social issues hindering those groups. As a woman of color, I was expecting the same dialogue about colorism and marginalization of dark women in particular.
But I never would have thought, our conversation would be so compelling. The topic of colorism was based around the exclusion of biracial women in their specific racial identities. I was sitting next to an individual and they expressed their discomfort and displacement. In communities of color, it is not often discussed about the displacement that biracial individuals feel.
I honestly am guilty of not recognizing the struggle of biracial identities. I sometimes fail to realize that having various racial identities can cause uneasiness and displacement of self due to not fitting into the mold of a specific race. As I was sitting next to this passionate and intelligent individual discussing their struggle to find a place they belong to, I began to empathize. I cannot imagine being a part of a community that does not recognize me because I am not what they envisioned. An individual should not have to prove their self-worth because they are different.
As others chimed in with their similar experiences, I began to realize that biracial identity is an intersection of itself. Although others cannot put them in a box, it should not discount their experience. It actually should call attention to their experiences. Along with other marginalized groups, they face discrimination, microagressions* and oppression in similar, but also very different ways.
I could not believe the stories that I heard and began to think about the bubble of marginalization I had been in. It is easy to concern yourself with your problems and marginalization and forget that individuals outside of your intersection are hurting too. The discussion that occurred opened my eyes and bursted my bubble of self-involvement. The discussion continued and we talked about not seeking validation from others who do not understand our journey.
The conversation allowed me to see that I am not the only person wanting to find my place in the world. Also, I realized that I can help create a space for others with various identities by welcoming them and listening when they need to be heard. The conversation reminded me of when the women in my family would gather around the kitchen table to talk about their day, their struggles, their stories and their lives. This caucus was like sitting around the kitchen table because of the level of comfortability. I felt that discussing with individuals that understood, validate me and my story. I felt like I found my people and they found me. This type of support should happen more often. We should all share our experience more often. It can do us all some good.
*For more definitions, head over to the our definitions page.