I don’t want to be their conscience, either. Especially when it comes to race.
A colleague at my place of employ is one of the advisors for a student group that is called, Young Women’s Empowerment. The group is composed of middle school girls – the menthes, and their high school girls – the mentors. Recently, the group participated in One Billion Rising – OBR for short. The group was supposed to have participated in the V-Day events on 14 February in the local area, but, it got snowed out. The main activity, however, seemed to be rehearsing a dance they were to have performed at the V-Day program, in celebration of women who are survivors of abuse and violence.
Ok. Well…I have my own personal views about Eve Ensler, OBR, and V-Day which I shared with my colleague. Especially her appropriation of the words and work of women of color, and views and opinions which are in fact quite racist. Not to mention the way in which her organization ignored the commemoration events which take place in Canada on 2/14.
I won’t rehash the Eve Ensler/OBR/V-Day controversies here. One can perform a Google search, and locate many references to the aforementioned. On the other hand, what I want to discuss is my colleague’s unwillingness to engage critically on the topic when I made my view known to her.
Here is the email that I sent to said colleague recently:
“I respect what you are doing with the Girls’ Empowerment group. I also think that we need to be aware of the views of folks like Eve Ensler – all of them – and their impact on various groups. I don’t expect you to accept my views. I just felt the need to share them with you. I think that OBR could have more impact if if were more respectful of women of color.”
And here is my colleague’s response to the aforementioned:
I agree that awareness and understanding are so important, as is respect. Having said that, in my experience of 59 years on the planet there are many occasions when people who have done incredibly important things have slipped. I will never know what Eve Ensler’s intentions were without checking in with her, and when someone feels slighted it is awful. I know that she has done a lot of good in the world for the rights of women of all colors.
I stepped out yesterday to raise the consciousness about the atrocity of abuse to females to the Wat community, and have heard discord from you, and some negativity from a student, and it is the risk that I take.
At this point in my life, I look at what is the intention behind the act and ask, does it come from good? That is where our intention came from and hopefully you have noticed that the members of YWEG and student leaders are predominately of color.Of course, I respect your views, and it important for us to enlighten one another.
“Thank you for your reply.”“I am aware that members of YWEG are women of color. I am also aware that they, like I, will continue to learn and grow in their understanding as women, and as women of color, hopefully, as they grow in their own personal identities. They, after all, are still quite young.”