Skip to main content

Your Black Friend: Resources

Your Black Friend by Ben Passmore

Library resources

The racial spectrum

Heteropatriarchy and the Three Pillars of White Supremacy
Rethinking Women of Color Organizing

By Andrea Smith - Cherokee intellectual, feminist, and anti-violence activist
Scenario #1 
A group of women of color come together to organize. An argument ensues about whether or not Arab women should be included. Some argue that Arab women are “white” since they have been classified as such in the U.S. census. Another argument erupts over whether or not Latinas qualify as “women of color,” since some may be classified as “white” in their Latin American countries of origin and/or “pass” as white in the United States.
Scenario #2 
In a discussion on racism, some people argue that Native peoples suffer from less racism than other people of color because they generally do not reside in segregated neighborhoods within the United States. In addition, some argue that since tribes now have gaming, Native people are no longer “oppressed.”
Scenario #3 
A multiracial campaign develops involving diverse communities of color in which some participants charge that we must stop the black/white binary, and end Black hegemony over people of color politics to develop a more “multicultural” framework. However, this campaign continues to rely on strategies and cultural motifs developed by the Black Civil Rights struggle in the United States.
These incidents, which happen quite frequently in “women of color” or “people of color” political organizing struggles, are often explained as consequence of “oppression olympics.” That is to say, one problem we have is that we are too busy fighting over who is more oppressed. In this essay, I want to argue that these incidents are not so much the result of “oppression olympics” but are more about how we have inadequately framed “women of color” or “people of color” politics. That is, the premise behind much “women of color” organizing is that women from communities victimized by white supremacy should unite together around their shared oppression. This framework might be represented by a diagram of five overlapping circles, each marked Native women, Black women, Arab/Muslim Women, Latinas and Asian American women, overlapping like a Venn diagram. Click here to read the full article.

More on the racial spectrum: