Caught My Eye: Colonize This!

Friday, June 17, 2011

This week, I read Colonize This!, a book of essays by women of color about their experiences finding - and molding - feminism. I read this book (394 pages) within four days - not just because the library due date was coming up, but because I was absorbed in the stories of these amazing women of color from all different walks of life. Check out my thoughts after the jump!

Colonize This! speaks to the part of me that wanted more women of color in Click!: Moments When We Knew We Were Feminists. It takes a microscope to the American feminist movement and blows up the large (often silent) group of diverse women who take that label as their own. The book covers a myriad of racial identities, class levels, queer-identity issues, and stories of recent immigrants alongside second or later generation Americans. In short, it has something for everyone.

The style of personal essay used by these authors engaged my emotions as well as my thoughts. It was not a taxing read, no feminist theory required. And, although the women did speak about their feminism, they linger on other parts of their identity as well, proving that the makeup of one's identity cannot be separated out. Every part of you is intertwined with all the other parts. I found it very refreshing to hear the struggles of other people when it comes to being the "model minority" or the "ethnic representative" or the "exotic one." The book legitimizes the feelings that may be scoffed at or belittled in academic settings, even feminist ones.

As I was reading, I took down some of the memorable quotes that I wanted to later remember; here are some of my favorites:

"The same shit we said to the white girls about how 'safe space' didn't mean 'never uncomfortable' space applies to us, too." - Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

"I have met other mutt/colonized children like myself, but instead of overcoming their colonization, they succumb to it. They become internally conquered. They shame themselves into believing that half of them is inferior. They choose to deny their culture and heritage." - Cristina Tzintzun

"Gentrification is more about the color of my skin than the money in my pocket." - Taigi Smith

"The small community of South Asian Muslim girls my age, growing up in Wichita, became symbols of the future of our community in the United States. Our bodies became the sites to play out cultural and religious debates." - Almas Sayeed

"In most cases Indians leave their homeland and come to the United States to make a new life for themselves. Americans go to India to check it out. They've got that ticket in their chest pouch, remember? So the exchange is not equal at all." - Bhavana Mody

"You can't pull yourself up by your bootstraps when you don't have shoes." - Pandora L. Leong

If you are interested in learning about the real experiences of women of color, whether you are a person of color or not, you should read this book. It's a hefty tome, but even if you read select essays, you will find it well worth your time.

Read more of my feminist literature book reviews, including one of Click!: Moments When We Knew We Were Feminists and Reading Women.
Interested in absorbing more media? Check out more of the Caught My Eye series.