Colonize This! Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism by Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman

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“We do not kick ass the way the white girls do, in meetings of NOW or riot grrl. For us, it’s all about family.”

Its only January but I believe I have a strong contender for my book of the year. This anthology is a thousand moments of -I didn’t realise other people felt like this too.

Daisy Hernandez and Bushra Rehman have assembled a collection of personal essays by young women writers of colour from a wide range of cultures and regions across America. These first-hand accounts express themes that you don’t tend to see in mainstream feminism (and why so many brown and black women feel alienated from it) like race, religion, family, community. ..There is a whole section devoted to Our Mothers: Refugees from a World on Fire. The result is one of the most interesting and emotive works on feminism I have ever read.

There are too many essays that touched me to mention here but some I empathised with were Dutiful Hijjas, Because You’re a Girl, Lost in the Indophile Translation and the bittersweet I sold my soul to rock and roll about the frustration of loving white rock music.

“These boys had the luxury to forget about colour, culture and class every single day of their lives. Perhaps I believed that through their music, I could vicariously forget about race too. For a few brief moments each day, I could step outside of my brown skin, unzipping it like a heavy winter coat. I’d turn up the music and dream not of being black or white, but a rock star.”

I recognised the same thing that these women noticed and that I saw growing up. Despite the patriarchal culture many WoC grew up in we are surrounded and brought up by strong women who sweated blood to keep us safe, fed and educated and yet still supported the myth that Men and Marriage were the way to have a good life.  And finally I saw put into words over and over again the struggle in trying to fight injustice in your own culture but afraid of validating the racists outside it, “…family is only a safe zone until you kiss another woman, question the faith or go to the movies with a white boy.

This is a book I’ll be re-reading for a long time. I’m so used to seeing white feminist media that dominates the mainstream (like the recent Suffragette film) that ignore the issues that I so needed addressing like Islamphobia, racism, queerphobia and culture clashes and how they all intersect with sexism. I found them all in this book and more.

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