It’s an honour to write for ACAR Honi, as feminist spaces have a long, toxic and continuing history of championing the voices of white women at the expense of women of colour. This is a reality that our own Wom*n’s Collective has not been immune to. We cannot understate the struggle and persistence of the amazing women who took (and take) the time and emotional energy to educate others and in doing so helped the Wom*n’s Collective to be a space that now practices intersectionality.
Wom*n’s Honi, despite being the source of many conservative tears (sorry not sorry Mon Droit and Nick Cater), was a tribute to this. From critiques of Patricia Arquette’s white feminism, to analyses of race and emotional labour, the prison system and the role of photography in decolonisation, there were pages of articles that centred the experiences of women of colour. In spite of this, we recognise that the Wom*n’s Collective will never be a “safe space” for women of colour, as the world is not a “safe space” for women of colour.
Every day there are stories of women of colour being bashed, beaten, harassed and murdered. Just this year, we heard the horrendous story of Sandra Bland, an African American woman who was found dead in her jail cell, after an unwarranted arrest. We especially remember the trans women of colour who have been murdered this year. In the USA, of the 19 that we know the names of, 13 women were black and 17 were women of colour. Australia is not separate to these systems of violence, but implicated in them. We must never forget the colonial legacy of sexual violence and exploitation of Aboriginal women that defined and persists in defining our nation.
To end more optimistically, things are starting to change. Whether it’s the number of #teamnicki tweeters doubling the number of #teamtaylor tweeters, or the response to the whitewashing of the new Stonewall film, white feminism and white-centred politics are being dismantled with greater vigour every day. We can only attribute this to the centuries of activism of women of colour. We quote the words of women like Audre Lorde, bell hooks and Gayatri Spivak (and the countless others) often, but today we take a moment to truly and graciously thank them. It is the activists of the past that have given us a liveable present, and who provide the foundations for our continuing fight to smash the kyriarchy.