Helen Zia on Women of Color and Feminism

Taken from an interview with the the indomitable Helen Zia, here are more offerings in the journey of addressing the question, “What is feminism?”

“Feminism is not a racist ideology. If someone claims to be a feminist but exhibits exclusionary behavior and is reluctant to change–we all have prejudices, so I’m not holding feminists to a higher level–I expect them to change. What I say to women of color and other young feminists or womanists is this: there is no Women’s Movement, capital W, capital M. There are women’s movements, plural.

And those movements are alive and well in communities of color. Many of the strongest voices in our communities of color are women. We carry our communities on our backs. With or without the label, we’re there. To say that women of color are not interested in equality for women is just not true.

But many women of color have had negative experiences with individual, white, so-called feminists or with organizations and institutions within a feminist framework. I’ve had negative experiences. But we accomplish much more together than separately. I don’t throw out the notion of feminism because of the negatives. We all have to work on these negatives. We cannot sum up a movement based on individual experiences.”

This woman is as disarming in person as she is in her words. Trust me.

3 thoughts on “Helen Zia on Women of Color and Feminism

  1. Kai

    Helen Zia is one of my heroes, one of the reasons I became an activist. I’ve been reading her since Vincent Chin was murdered.

    Speaking for myself, many if not most of my role models in activism and in life have been women of color. Women have been running my family all my life, and not because there haven’t been men around but because the women are just goddamn stronger and more on top of things. When I hear stereotypes about submissive Asian women, I can only guffaw in disbelief. So yeah, I find it insane that white folks don’t recognize the centrality of women of color in progressive movements of all stripes. But then, I guess we’re talking about white folks, so….yeah.

    Thanks for the excerpt, Sudy.


  2. Sudy

    Link away!

    This was a snippet I found on a Ms. online collective. I coudldn’t find the the whole thing, unfortunately.

    Isn’t she incredible?

    If you happen to find the entire article, let me know!

  3. bint alshamsa

    Where did you find this interview? I REALLY want to read the rest of it. Do you mind if I post this quote on my blog and link to yours? I have never heard someone say this as eloquently as Zia does in this piece.

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