Created by Sakina Bhatti (Editor), Basimah Curry (Editorial Assistant), Devin Cata (Journalist), Mar Wilson (Journalist), and Daya Stanley (Graphic Designer) during Block 5 2021
“If you’re a young person of color in America, you’ve probably spent a lot of time thinking about how your life is different from that of others, just because of the color of your skin or where your family is from. Whether that’s in the ways that you interact with other people, think of your own life, or understand the community around you, there’s just something about being not white in a super white country that forces us to think about ourselves. Some might call it self-absorbed, but here at Center-Stage, we think that it’s hella important to put ourselves in the center of conversations, especially about issues that affect us and especially in a country where it is so easy to talk about Black and Brown people without ever actually including us.”
—Sakina Bhatti, Editor
View the “Table of Contents” below and click here to read Center-Stage: The Social Performance Issue!
At Hillary Clinton’s most-recent lavish private fundraising event in South Carolina, Black Lives Matter activist Ashley Williams interrupted the event by holding up a sign which read, “We have to bring them to heel.” The sign was a reference to a speech made by Clinton in 1994 in support of a crime bill that caused an astronomical increase in the mass incarceration of Brown and Black Americans. In support of that bill, Clinton referred to young people of color involved with gangs as “super predators.” In the aftermath of Williams’ direct action, the hashtag #WhichHillary has become a popular one for activists who seek to critique Clinton’s campaign, which has championed itself as dedicated to the fulfillment of women’s rights. Utilizing the frameworks introduced by Bushra Rehman and Daisy Hernandez in Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminismwill illustrate the contradictions and hypocrisies of Clinton’s brand of feminism, which she has used to great effect in her campaign.
Bushra and Hernandez write, “When the media vilifies a whole race, when a woman breaks the image of a model minority…or when our neighborhoods are being gentrified, this is… where our feminism lies” (378). Thus they articulate the concerns of young feminists of color who initially felt partially liberated by white feminism, but who also felt uncomfortable with and excluded by white feminist analyses and spaces. On Twitter, @erniesfo echoed this tension: “The Hillary Clinton who says she supports Latinos or the one who supports a coup in Honduras? #WhichHillary.” Political commentator and journalist Ali Abunimah wrote, “#WhichHillary, the one who claims to be a lifelong child advocate or the one who never saw an Israeli massacre she didn’t applaud?” Rehman and Hernandez can help illuminate the tension between Clinton’s seemingly advocating progressive policies while simultaneously upholding oppressive ones:
We’ve grown up with legalized abortion, the legacy of the Civil Rights movement and gay liberation, but we still deal with sexual harassment, racist remarks from feminists and the homophobia within our communities. The difference is that now we talk about these issues in women’s studies classes, in classrooms that are multicultural but xenophobic and in a society that pretends to be racially integrated but remains racially profiled. (378)
Clinton and her supporters have thus celebrated her dedication to women’s rights without recognizing the many ways in which her policies been anti-feminist and extremely harmful to women and children.
Activists using the #WhichHillary highlight the ways in which Clinton’s pro-women agenda is not pro-all women; rather, it specifically pertains to the concerns of Western, white, middle and upper class women. In this way, they illustrate how Hillary is not much of a feminist at all, and her championing of women’s rights is more of a marketing scheme than a legitimate political platform. Along these lines, Astrid Henry examines what is lost when people attempt to market feminism:
Without its critiques of white supremacy and privilege, heterosexism, and capitalism—not to mention its continued insistence on examining the ways in which sexism and misogyny continue to operate in the world—feminism becomes nothing but a meaningless bumper sticker announcing “girl power” (390).
Clinton, who has advocated for women’s rights but has also supported legislation which contributed to the mass incarceration of Black Americans and worked with neoconservatives to derail a democratically elected government in Honduras, is emblematic of this brand of feminism. Clinton’s feminism ultimately does little to address actual feminist concerns; therefore, it operates as a “meaningless bumper sticker” through which Clinton can draw support by presenting as a “pro-woman” candidate.
Today, after the annual Honors Convocation at Colorado College, Colorado College students and members of the Colorado Springs community demonstrated their love for and solidarity with Black women in the name of #BlackWomenMatter and #CCInSolidarity.
He who witnesses an injustice but stands idly by and allows the injustice to continue is just as bad, if not worse, than the original aggressor. With this belief in mind, last Tuesday, we shut down Cascade Avenue.
Recently, Darren Wilson was not indicted for murdering Michael Brown. As I sat with my fellow peers in complete disbelief following the decision, it became clear to me that the verdict meant that Michael Brown’s life was declared unworthy of trial. This case is relevant because it is bigger than just Michael Brown. This case made an indirect statement on the status of Black men in America. Black Lives simply don’t matter as much. Black lives are disposable, black people are a source of danger, and our “justice” system will allow Black lives to continually be taken without any repercussion and in some case with reward.
It is imperative to recognize the main point to take away from our rally is that we are not just protesting Daren Wilson. We are not just outraged by his freedom. What we are painstakingly frustrated with is the system that makes stripping Black mothers of their teenage sons common place. This specific case is not necessarily all that matters, what mattes is the message that it sends and the legal system that the case was subject to. Although it sure would have helped ease the pain, Darren Wilson’s arrest would not have ended police brutality or bring Michael Brown back to life.
We often become much too concerned with the “facts” of the case, which are often frighteningly easy to skew, when the single truth that we need to focus on is that a life was lost when it didn’t need to be. That’s it. Michael Brown is dead. Black teens are being gunned down in the streets as if it were a national sport. This is the problem. When the verdict came out, I was not concerned with Darren Wilson. In my eyes, it was the killing of Black teens that was not indicted that day. This is the injustice that I see and the injustice that I have and will continue to combat.
Practicality is a luxury that we couldn’t afford. To catalyze the change that we wanted to see, my fellow Black Student Union officers and I had to think big. After spending much of the evening just trying to process the non-indictment of Wilson, around midnight, we began to take action. The march that shutdown streets in the second biggest city in the state of Colorado, the march that had several news stations begging for interviews, the march that had police officers scrambling to redirect traffic and regain control of the streets, was all started by 4 heartbroken students who wanted change. Once one person proposed the idea that we should shut down a street, we ran with it. We were up with the team of student leaders at Colorado College sending last minute emails and speaking to news stations after hours at 2 am. We knew that the college bound Michael Brown would have had a prolific voice if he had lived, but we wanted to ensure, that in his death, his voice would ring out ten times louder than it ever would have.
For the Michael Browns of the past, present, and future, we fight.