Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Secular Woman interviews Women's Leadership Project

WLP Women's History presentation

SW: Why do the girls participate in the program?

WLP: The girls participate because they feel empowered by learning about the social history of feminists of color and connecting them to their lived experiences. Many feel as though they’ve been shafted by mainstream public education’s drill and kill high stakes testing regime that shuts out meaningful critical engagement with the contributions, social capital, cultural knowledge, and liberation struggle of communities of color in the U.S. and beyond. For example, during our annual Denim Day outreach we don’t just address the objectification and abuse young women experience in their daily lives and relationships but also examine the impact of media and social imaging of women of color. Because white European women have always been constructed as the universal beauty and human ideal, Black, Latina, Asian, and Native American women are sexualized in ways that European American white women have never been. Pretending like "all women" are oppressed by sexist exploitation ignores the role racism, segregation and white supremacy play in the way black and Latina women are brutally marginalized in the workplace, denied access to reproductive health and demeaned/ marginalized in media portrayals of "proper" or even so-called empowered femininity. When we address sexual harassment and sexual assault we contextualize them vis-à-vis the history of exploitation and commodification of the bodies of women of color through slavery, imperialist occupation and dispossession.

SW: What is the program focused on accomplishing?
WLP: We educate young women of color in feminist humanist practice. We empower them to take ownership of their lives and communities by connecting the struggles of previous generations with their present and future. We specifically develop curricula on women’s rights, social histories and activist traditions. The program also focuses on peer education and training on HIV/AIDS prevention, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, reproductive justice, media literacy and safe space creation for LGBTQ youth. We also provide college resources for financial aid, tutoring, scholarships, job and internship opportunities and undocumented youth resources.

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