Posted February 28, 2013 by Cooper Point Journal in Letters & Opinion

So, Am I a Bad Bitch?

“Fuck white people,” was frequently repeated during the Bad Bitches workshop on February 12 – and justly so.  The workshop – a part of No One Wins In Patriarchy week –  was only open to females, trans and queer people of color, and was meant to provide a safe space to feel empowered, express feelings and give validation to discussing issues of race in a non-academic setting.

Usually during any seminar, debate or discussion, racism is a subject where I choose to actively listen rather than actively participate. This stems largely from fear. I fear that having grown up as a middle class white-looking cis-female, my sheltered childhood and existence invalidates my words. And in many situations it does – and, again, rightfully so.

Yet the discourse of racism as a whole is, no pun intended, often very black and white. If one appears to be white then they are labeled as such and if one appears to be black or rather brown, then they are labeled as so, etc.

The social taboo of asking someone’s heritage after initially meeting them is often a double-edged sword as well, especially since asking is perceived as racist, but could potentially solve the problem of assumption.

Increased awareness of how racial identity manifests itself and influences different mediums of expression, whether speech, writing, or art, is worth noting. However, in a ‘melting pot’ like America, identifying or being recognized as having a single background is simply not always the case. Mixed race individuals are left to ask themselves the hard questions like what background do I identify as? Or do I even have to come from one background at all?

At the Bad Bitches workshop the topic of being mixed race was peripheral, and in some instances spoken of with derogatory humor. I understood where they were coming from – this was a space for women of color to have no restrictions – yet the ambiguity of being mixed race seems to open a whole new Pandora’s box of issues.

Individuals who identify as interracial or mixed race, don’t have clear-cut responsibilities and labels. Knowing when it’s considered ‘ok’ to attend a ‘people of color’ workshop or produce a piece of art that addresses issues of race, for instance, often evokes feelings of insecurity.

Perhaps this, again, stems from fear of judgment from our peers, or that one’s story  may not be considered ‘real’ enough, or ‘hard’ enough. But comparing these situations in our heads is like comparing what kind of death is most difficult to overcome. The reality is that everyone’s experience is valid, and I hope it is only a matter of time until the dichotomy of white or ‘of color’ is addressed with less rigidity, and with more acceptance of individuality, as there is a place for all sides of every coin.

By Melkorka Licea