Feminism | Posted by Hannah on 01/13/2014

Feminism Has Changed Me: Claiming My Black Latina Identity

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Hannah and her feminist classmates

Throughout the last few weeks, I have been introduced to a powerful movement called feminism. I have never been as inspired and motivated to use my voice than I am right now. The more that I have been reading about amazing feminists like Cherrie Moraga and Audre Lorde, the more I  ask myself, how can I use my voice and actions to involve myself in a feminist way of life?

In my feminism class we wrote essays about how the different variables of our life like race, class, gender, and sexuality intersect and make up our lives. Writing my own intersectionality essay gave me the chance to reflect on the complexity of my life. As a black Latina, my life is very complicated and in my essay I elaborated on the problems of racism and body image in  today’s society. Not only was I able to finally write my true thoughts about how I am affected by my ethnicity and race, gender and sexuality, but I was also able to share my feelings with my school.

On October 8, 2013, our feminism class held an assembly at our school to celebrate the second annual International Day of the Girl.  International Day of the Girl was on Friday, October 11, and for our assembly, many of my classmates and I shared excerpts from our intersectionality pieces. Hearing the variety of stories from my peers was extremely inspiring because I was able see how the different variables in their lives come together day to day. We also introduced our school to one of the most influential young women in the world today, Malala.

Malala Yousafzai is a 16-year-old teenager who is from Pakistan. She was shot in the head last year for speaking up about the education of young girls. The Taliban, a terrorist group, did not support her actions and shot her. She was taken into immediate care and underwent reconstructive surgery. Her recovery has progressed wonderfully and she continues to speak out about the education of girls not only in Pakistan but also all over the world.

In class, we watched  a video of Malala speak at the United Nations. She spoke about her experience but also emphasized on the importance of education. We also watched an interview of Malala on John Stewart and I was able to witness the amount of wisdom and care that Malala has in her.

When I say that Malala is a very inspirational young woman, it is because she has showed everyone that age is really nothing but a number. At only 16, Malala has accomplished so much. She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and continues to touch millions everyday. While learning about Malala, I realized that at 17-years-old, I am not much different. I have a voice that I can use to speak out about my experiences as a Black Latina and I know that I can make a difference for the equality and awareness of other Black Latinas as well as other ethnicities. The amount of passion that Malala has is remarkable and she has shown me that if I am persistent and care enough about an issue in this world, I can make a difference and touch other people.

For example, after reading A Black Feminist Statement by the Combahee River Collective, I related to their piece. As a Dominican, I come from a very diverse background. To the outside world, people see me as “Black” and most never try to dig deeper. I have dealt with having stereotypes thrown in my face and racist remarks left and right, and I have never really had people to relate to.

However after reading A Black Feminist Statement, I realized that I am not alone. I was most moved by the statement: “No one has ever examined the multilayered texture of black women’s lives.” I was drawn to this statement because I feel like it illustrates the fact that being a woman of color has many layers to it and often times people do not try to uncover those layers.

Through International Day of the Girl and all of the events and people who have been surrounding this day and the weeks leading up to it, I have been able to explore who I am as a girl. All of the influential women who I have been introduced to us in our class have made it apparent to me that I have people who want the same things that I do, equality and justice for not only women, but everyone who is oppressed.

As a young woman, I am going through a stage in my life where I am beginning to find myself in just the first few weeks of this high school feminism course, I have learned that I am powerful and capable of making a difference in this world.

Originally posted on F to the Third Power

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