The Root: The experience of having your Miss Navajo Nation reign challenged calls to mind…
Tag: women of color
“But in the terms of the power discussion, what if, in fact, you are power?…
By Thea Lim and Andrea Plaid
After watching her Facebook news feed fill up with links to articles adoring the politics of Gaga, Thea emailed her local sex/race/gender/pop culture expert: Andrea. Thea was puzzled by the wild adulation heaped upon Gaga as “transgressive” and “binary-breaking” by the gender studies crowd…not because Gaga is without merit, but because Thea could think of lots of other mainstream artists who had tried to play with appearances and femininity, and not gotten the same love. When those adulations started to slide towards race, suggesting that Gaga’s work could be read not just as gender subversive, but also questioning and decentering whiteness, it was time for a Racialicious convo.
Thea: I was reading some articles over the weekend about how trangressive the video for “Telephone” is, and I couldn’t help but feel that people are reading things into her work. Not that there is anything wrong with that (especially considering what I do on Racialicious), but it seems as if people are giving her credit for being deeper than she is, rather than saying, oh look what this work could represent, regardless of the artist’s intentions.
There’s this article, which beyond seemingly giving Gaga way more credit than she deserves, makes a gratuitous comment in the article about how the positioning of Beyonce vs Gaga in “Telephone” is a reversal of the black/white dynamic. But I don’t think so at all. For example, in the video Gaga addresses Beyonce with a silly, cloying nickname with is a little condescending, and the video ends with Gaga definitely being the Decider. The article says that Beyonce breaking Gaga out of jail shows that black/white reversal, but the video ends with Gaga “taking care” of Beyonce: the reversal (which I’m not sure I buy in the first place) effectively nullified.
I do get the Gaga mania among queer and feminist theorists, but I also feel like there have been artists before her who were doing interesting things with gender in their work — like M.I.A. who really does not fit easily into either poptart or rock goddess categories. (And M.I.A. has gone so far as to call out the racist-sexism of the music industry, even at the risk of alienating key collaborators.) Even the evolution over the years of Beyonce has been fascinating, in terms of how she went from being this ideal of hetero desire (and also being a blond, light-skinned black lady who was accessible from a white point of view) to making these crazy-ass videos. Like the video for “Video Phone” is just weird.
So why does Gaga get all the love? How much of it is because, as a small young blonde woman she appears to be trangressive in a way that artists like M.I.A. or even Trina cannot be transgressive, because to begin with they are already seen as non-normative, simply because they aren’t white? Is it because the feminist model is predicated on whiteness, so that is what it is drawn to untangling?
by Latoya Peterson
Please note, this is part five of a multi-part series on the Lifting As We Climb: Women of Color and Wealth report released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Please carefully read part one and review our comment moderation policy before participating in the comments.
Over the course of the Women of Color and Wealth series one question has come up time and time again – what about Asian women? Native women? Other, more specific breakdowns of different racial/ethnic groups? Is there data for queer women of color? For transgender women of color? Sadly, the answer is no.
The report includes a separate break out discussion of Asian and Native American women, saying (all emphasis mine):
Because Asian Americans and Native Americans comprise a much smaller proportion of the U.S. population than blacks and Hispanics and because most surveys that measure wealth do not oversample these groups, our knowledge about their wealth is less robust—particularly for Native Americans.
According to 2004 data from the Survey of Income and Program Participation, Asian Americans have a higher median net worth than white non-Hispanic households ($144,000 and $137,200, respectively). Much of this is due to their home equity, as the Asian population is concentrated in a few cities with very high home values. When data is adjusted for these and other factors, Asians have less wealth than whites on similar socioeconomic characteristics. In interpreting the high home equity of Asian Americans, it is also important to bear in mind that they are likely to own and occupy the home with extended family members and are more likely than whites to contribute more than half of their household income to housing costs.
by Latoya Peterson
Please note, this is part three of a multi-part series on the Lifting As We Climb: Women of Color and Wealth report released by the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. Please carefully read part one and review our comment moderation policy before participating in the comments.
I’m fightin for strength, in the street grindin for cents/
I know I’m ahead of my time but I’m behind on my rent/
Askin Kanye for money just to pay on my gas bill/
He asked me for it back, nigga brush up on your math skills/
Nothin plus zip equals zero; he couldn’t relate/
That nigga ain’t been broke since “H to the Izzo”
–Rhymefest, “Devil’s Pie“
For many of us who grow up lower middle class or in poverty, the issues began before we were born. Parents struggling to make ends meet rarely find that things get easier once a child arrives – in general, already strained resources are required to stretch even further. Economically devastated parents generally do not have the resources to pass on to their children – indeed, the children may be asked to help participate in taking care of the bills, or once another income is flowing, provide funds to take care of other members of the family.
Looking at the chart above, single black and latina female households are hit the hardest by these disparities – but what does it really mean when a household has zero or negative wealth? How does it impact a child’s upbringing and future? Read the Post Women of Color and Wealth – Starting Points and Class Jumping [Part 3]
by Latoya Peterson
Because so many women of color have such little wealth other than the value of a vehicle, the rest of the paper uses the definition of wealth that excludes vehicles in order to capture the economic vulnerability experienced by women of color.
Excluding vehicles, single black women have a median wealth of $100 and Hispanic women $120 respectively, while their same-race male counterparts have $7,900 and $9,730. The median wealth of single white women is $41,500. To put it another way, single black and Hispanic women have one penny of wealth for every dollar of wealth owned by their male counterparts and a tiny fraction of a penny for every dollar of wealth owned by white women. With so little in reserve, half of all single black and Hispanic women could not afford to take an unpaid sick day or to even have a major appliance repaired without going into debt. The precarious financial situation of women of color is also evident when looking at those with zero or negative wealth, (negative wealth occurs when the value of one’s assets is lower than the value of their debts). Nearly half of all single black and Hispanic women have zero or negative wealth (see Figure 2).
Pre-retirement wealth disparities for women of color affect them drastically in their retirement years. According to federal poverty standards, poverty rates for people age 65 and over are highest for women of color. In 2007 16.7% of white women living alone were poor, but 26% of Asian women living alone, 38.5% of black women living alone, and 41.1% of Hispanic women living alone were poor. 21
What does it mean when we talk about the difference between wealth and income? These two terms are not to be conflated. Someone can be a high earner, but still have no wealth at all – it is as simple as spending more than you earn. It doesn’t matter what the money is spent on – it can go up your nose, on your feet, to your landlord or thrown in mass amounts on a stage. However, if you manage to make a million dollars a year, and you spend $1.5 million, you are not wealthy. Not even close. Read the Post Women of Color and Wealth – Looking at the Wealth Gap [Part 2]
by Latoya Peterson
Yesterday, a headline in the Post-Gazette worked its way around Twitter: Study finds median wealth for single black women at $5. Most outlets qualified the link by calling it “shocking” or mentioning the five dollar figure was not a typo.
I called up a fellow young black professional friend of mine and told her about the findings of the study. “Is it messed up that I’m kind of glad in a way?” she asked, “I mean, all this time I’ve been wondering why I can’t get my shit together, but it turns out I’m normal.” We both laughed at her small attempt at gallows humor around a situation many of us know a little too intimately – when it comes to our white counterparts, women of color are light years behind in wealth.
The study is a new report from The Insight Center for Community Economic Development, titled “Lifting as We Climb: Women of Color, Wealth, and America’s Future.” The report is an in-depth look at the issues in wealth accumulation particular to black women, Latinas, Asian and Native American women. However, even as this report is one of the most comprehensive I have seen on the subject, the limited data for Asian American and Native American women means that their statistics are limited from entire sections of the report, and discussed in a subsequent section about the need for better stats. The report’s title is should be a familiar refrain to many black women, but the author of the report, Mariko Chang, kindly includes an explanation of the origin of the phrase:
More than a century ago, the National Association for Colored Women was founded by African American women leaders in response to a vicious attack on the character of African-American women. A few decades distant from the abolition of slavery, the intensification of poverty, discrimination, and segregation impelled these women to action in defense of their race. Their motto was “Lifting as We Climb,” signaling their understanding that no individual woman of color could rise, nor did they want to rise, without the improvement of the whole race. At the top of their agenda were job training, wage equity, and child care: issues that, if addressed, would lift all women, and all people of color.
The lift as we climb refrain was implanted into some of us from birth and a lot of my earliest lessons about black empowerment focused on financial empowerment. Yet, these adages about saving money, investing in the community, and being a conscious consumer was like propping a footstool against a fifty foot high sheer rock wall. Read the Post Women of Color and Wealth – The Scope of The Problem [Part 1]
by Guest Contributor Fiqah, originally published at Possum Stew
I don’t know how to tell you this. There’s so much I can’t say.
I didn’t want to write this ever. I wanted to forget today even happened at all. I wanted to continue on with my shit today and ignore the incident guiding my fingertips in a furious, staccato blur across my keyboard right now. I wanted, for just one day (please God please God please please ANY listening God) to Live My Life. Without bullshitting myself with this little daily meditation for guarding the hope that lives in my heart.
But some days, dear reader, I’m weak. And I. Just. Can’t. I’m not Atlas. I’m just Fiqah. My shoulders are really about to give out.
I don’t know how to tell you this. There’s so much I can’t say.
Maybe I should just tell you what happened.
This afternoon, I decided to do a few loads of laundry. After throwing a few lighter necessities into my laundry bag, I headed to my elevator bank, stopping for a moment to be grateful that I live in a building with three elevators. (This is something anybody who has ever lived in a New York City walk-up does after they move into a building with an elevator, by the way, especially when doing errands.) I pressed the call button and waited for the middle elevator to descend from the floors above. When the doors opened, I was pleasantly startled to see one of my neighbors standing there.
“Oh! Hello, how are you?” I chirped, a smile of greeting on my face.
My neighbor, a stunning older Latina woman with pale golden skin, high cheekbones and a riot of sandy curls, nodded curtly to me. I was taken aback: typically, my neighbor greets me with her own dazzling smile in return, warmly, with sustained eye contact. She’s usually TOO nice with her hello, in the overly-solicitous manner that lighter-skinned women of color greet darker-skinned ones, in that way that says, “Please don’t hate me on sight. I’m not a stuck-up bitch. I’m not looking down on you. I’m your sister, too.” (I think this is part of why I like her; having been on the giving and receiving end of this dynamic at different points in my life, I understand. It’s hard to explain to anyone who isn’t a Black woman.) Slightly put-out, I settled slightly behind her into the opposite corner of the elevator, wondering what had crawled up HER butt and died.
That’s when I saw it. Read the Post Bruises: A Litany