I asked interviewees, "What does it mean to be a woman of color?"
Below are their responses. More importantly, these are assertions of their identity.
Interviewee A: "To me, being a women of color means, standing out. It means being resilient, being strong."
Interviewee B: "Being a woman of color means, absolute resilience, and um by that I mean resilience no matter what. And that can include moments of weakness too because in moments of weakness, women of color are so strong. And despite what it might feel, like in your lowest moments it's still... there's nothing that can compare to how much that you're going through at any given moment, and so the fact that you're still there and present means that, that within itself you are prospering"
Interviewee C: "It’s a lot of different things. A lot of it is culture, also treatments of culture. So, being a woman of color means, very simply, not being a white woman, (laughs). And all the cool things that come with whatever culture you’re a part of, so since I’m a black woman that has to do with like the music I listen to, the way I express myself in like fashion and stuff like that, my hair, my skin tone. All of those different things completely encompass me as a woman, and also treatment wise. Like women of color are not treated the same as white women and stuff like that, and then if you look along the lines as a black woman of course, like I understand my treatment is a little different than the next woman of color, or another white woman and stuff like that, taking that into account and every single thing that I do like, even if it’s not conscious and I'm like ok, I need to keep in mind that I'm a black woman and they're gonna look at you crazy (laughs) and whatever and so always suddenly there and just understanding that my experiences or the things that I do will always be coded with that."
Interviewee D: "Um, I tend to stay away from woman of color, just because I identify as black, as Afor-Latina, and I think that a lot of times people use ‘woman of color’ as like, as a lighter term than just saying black. Like a lot of times, people would say... when they really mean to say black woman, they say woman of color and um, so yea personally I just stay away from that. Um, being... so... being an Afro-Latina means to me being, um just being sometimes, in this awkward intersection of so many oppressed identities that it's hard navigating it every day like there are some days where I, you know, sometimes I may feel like more Latina, sometimes I may feel more black, depending on like who decides to be an asshole that day, so and it's always just like... being in like, this weird intersection where sometimes like I don’t know if I belong here, I don't know if I belong there, I don't know what I'm feeling, if it’s a mixture of both.. yea"
Interviewee E: "Hm... being a woman of color... means... that... any interaction that I have with somebody new or somebody that I know, will always be kind of painted by my ethnicity and my gender. Um, and that very much hit me when I came to Penn because, I'm from Puerto Rico (laughs), you know like, everyone there is Puerto Rican, like um I wasn’t... I didn’t know I was a woman of color until I came to the states, um and especially my freshmen year, it... it was the first time in my life that I realized, that people, just by looking at me, will already have assumptions about where I come from, and what I should talk like, and what I should be interested in so yea..."
Interviewee F: "A woman of color is someone who's kinda like perceived bad... someone who comes from the African diaspora... I guess that includes Asian women"
Interviewee G: "It feels like everyones always tunnels us off, the university, in all the literature, in the rhetoric of Black women... 'You are our enemy'. Maybe if there was more deliberate, intimate conversations. We’re asking for an understanding, so if I fall asleep in class, it’s always negative, so like having them to take a step back instead of already thinking the worst."
Interviewee H: "Being a woman of color, means that I have a role I play in friendships, in classrooms, it’s the first thing people see because I am not white. Its something I've been thinking about since high school in terms of mentors and like, how they have like, identity development, and thinking about what comes first, being a woman or my race."
Click here to find resources that can help if you have or are experiencing the hardships of being a Women of Color at Penn