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- Historically in the Western world, feminism has been described through a white lens—a travesty of equality that, even within the context of the Women’s Movement, voices of “other” (i.e. ethnic minority) women remain unheard. Margaret Sloan's description of the public misunderstanding regarding the National Black Feminist Organization demonstrates exactly this notion. Upon the NBFO's establishment, many viewed the group as "separating from the Black Movement and thereby dividing the black race" (AWM 122). Such societal distrust symbolized the (female) ethnic minority struggle in America. It is self-evident, yet somehow bears repeating, that a race cannot be wholly liberated, when at least (the female) half remains unfree. Thus, almost as a means of self-defense, NBFO described its existence as being core to, rather than a diverging from, black liberation.
- In the context of American feminism, the stories of minority women are typically forgotten, or at least appended only parenthetically to the experiences of white women. Mitsuye Yamada's "Asian Pacific American Women and Feminism" beautifully describes the Asian American experience (or lack thereof). Despite having suffered a history fraught with racism, Asian Americans (women, in particular) are type-casted as the "passive, sweet . . . 'Oriental'" (AWM 143). That, no matter how politically involved and passionate we may be, we cannot rid ourselves of the societal perception that we are "the least political, or the least oppressed, or the least polite" (AWM 143).
- What was particularly powerful about Yamada's writing was her critique of the majority culture, and their unwillingness to assume responsibility in learning the struggles rooted in our (that is, Asian American) culture. Yamada, inspired by her immigrant mother's tremendous sacrifices in providing for the health and happiness of her children, describes her realization that what is personal is necessarily political. And it is because of this intrinsic co-existence that places the onus of education on the community. In other words, the ideal of feminism can only be achieved if women work commonly towards this goal. Thus, there must be a willingness to both teach and learn. (However inspiring, is such a conclusion too idealistic? Yamada identifies what must be changed, but what will actually move us away from this collective apathy?)
- Yamada's maturing views--regarding the intersectionality of feminism and Asian American culture--further cement the ideas described in an earlier AWM reading: Ella Baker's "'Developing Leadership Among Other People' in Civil Rights." Baker, a prominent civil rights activist of the 60's, wrote that to achieve true emancipation, the oppressed must "understand that they had something within their power that they could use . . . and how group action could counter [injustice] even when it was perpetrated" (AWM 60).
- It is poetry in its own right that, from these two women, Yamada and Baker, both so different yet alike, stems the common philosophy that liberation is achieved only through the unification of that which is oppressed.
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