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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Our Feminist Future



By Sikivu Hutchinson, From the Feminist Wire

On the school grounds they call each other bitches with machine gun fury. This is the “new” term of “endearment”; a grand show of eye-rolling, teeth-sucking hardness to a world that chews them up, spits them out, and leaves them for dead, stranded between Virgin Mary and Jezebel. The righteous fury that they direct at and expect from each other is a function of criminal invisibility and zero expectations. Who would expect them to do anything more than pop out babies, latch onto some man, and live in the shadows of mainstream America’s white supremacist Barbie-Disney princess infantilizing caricature of womanhood? When I first met Sanaa and Karin* as 9th and 11th graders while teaching classes for my Women’s Leadership Project (WLP) feminist mentoring program, I was immediately impressed by their agile minds, sage observations, and sharp wit. Karin was in foster care after losing both her parents; Sanaa was one of six siblings from an emotionally turbulent home environment with little parental support. As the founder of WLP, which is based in South Los Angeles high schools, I train my students to do peer education on the everyday impact of sexism, heterosexism, misogynistic language, violence against women, and media imagery. Central to WLP’s peer training is enabling our students to develop a humanist critical consciousness about their shared struggle around paradigms of the sacrificial good black/Latina woman of faith.
I have been fortunate to have the assistance and vision of Diane Arellano, herself a mentee and former student of mine from the California Institute of the Arts. As an emerging artist and activist in her own right, she has been deeply committed to our goal of developing partnerships between black and Latina young women. Our program also provides reproductive justice resources, HIV/AIDS prevention education, and peer mentoring for undocumented youth. The high schools where our programs are based have high dropout rates and low four-year college going rates. In some instances, students can go all four years at these schools without knowing what California’s “A-G” college preparation requirements are.

Both Sanaa and Karin blossomed as speakers and feminist activists, challenging mainstream notions of what it means to be a girl of color...MORE @ The Feminist Wire