Women of Color: Silent of Silenced?

Feminism is the movement of eliminating the patriarchy between the genders and societal norms. Until recently, however, history has excluded the voices of women of color (WOC). These are the women who don’t fit under ethnicities or races of anything European or White. The difficulty for women of color is that they need to fight a system already against them because of gender issues and the battle of racism. 

Have you ever tried to scream your frustration out but it seems like you have duct tape over your mouth? Now as harsh as this statement seems it is the reality of a prominent feeling and frustration WOC go through. Poet Alyesha Wise’s poem, “Black Women,” expresses, “We are mega beings fractured and still being told we don’t add up. Still being mathematicians and math. Still being scientists and science.” Trying to understand the many things that women of color go through in America is difficult due to the environment around us. Speaking out as a woman of color for the things you have been through, will lead to the usual scenarios: gaslighting, manipulation, simply denying their experiences as a whole, or simply being ignored. Angelina Stokes, a WISE officer at CHHS, and woman of color, shared her experience. “Have you ever seen videos on platforms like TikTok on how to fit in with white girls?” She asks. “I had a time in middle school where I dyed my hair blonde and wore blue contacts, picked up on manners, and even sometimes used a similar laugh to fit in.” Most women of color go through a stage similar to Stokes’s in their life. They want to fit in with the beauty standard, and in Utah, that standard can be perceived as being blonde, blue-eyed, light-skinned, and petite. “I reconnected with myself again, by watching movies only in Spanish, having more Hispanic friends, and partying to cultural music.” This phase of wanting to be white usually ends because no matter what women of color do, they come to the realization that they will likely never be on the same playing field as white women. Skin color, nose shape, and dark-shaded eyes will always be there.  

Asian women have to go through hypersexualization and fetishization that can be seen through the lens of anime and recent mass shootings in massage parlors in Georgia. There is also the stereotype of being labeled as the smartest in the room. These stereotypes are very damaging when trying to build your identity because you don’t know what you are yet, however, society has already labeled your place. 

Breanna Giang, president of NHS and first-generation Vietnamese-American, “Most people will never get how it can be difficult to live with seemingly two different identities. Being a woman of color usually comes with having another, if not multiple, other cultures. There’s also a privilege that comes with being in the majority that many don’t normally realize.” She goes on to say, “I’ve had a hard time finding my place and identity because when I entered high school, I hung around my best friend a lot, and all of her friends were white. I tried so hard to fit in with them and learn and watch all the things they did so that they would like me, but at the end of the day, I didn’t fit in. Finally, though, last year, after I landed a leadership position and made different friends of my own that were from all sorts of different backgrounds, I realized I loved being around people with whom I could talk about my culture—I felt like I fit in. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, but with my experience, I’ve learned how to be the best of both worlds.”

This doesn’t mean that women of color are damaged boxes or fragile glass birds. The things they go through build them a stronger identity when it comes to living in society, however, having that identity comes with a price. The voices of women of color are starting to bloom in the world. Not just a couple of success stories but programs and organizations dedicated such as Dear Asian Youth or the Women of Color Conference to educating women on their voices and empowering them. The pathway is being built and these women who are fighting for this change are ready to be seated at the table of voices. They have been ready.