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Women of Color Bloggers’ Week of Red Essays

This section is dedicated to women of color bloggers who have pledged to support us by blogging about issues and stories of red, issues/stories of red consist of many things such as:

  • Physical violence committed against women of color
  • Laws and policies that make it difficult to protect women of color from violence
  • Stories of support for why they are wearing red and why others should wear red

Listed below are Women of Color Bloggers who have created blogs about issues and/or stories of red. To access the story please click on the link next to it:

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This is from Alexis. G.’s blog, http://brokenbeautiful.wordpress.com/


Today, Wednesday October 31st 2007 women of color and allies around the country are wearing red as part of a collective healing and revealing process in response to sexual violence against women of color. This collective red is meant to be antidote to shame, a warning sign to those would continue to blame women of color for the outrageous abuses that our society condones against us. This collective red is meant to fill in the missing frame of the black and white of Jena. This red is an invocation of gendered wounds and demands that we remember what Ida B. Wells told us, which is that the lynching of black men and women and the rape of black women and men are twin tools of the same repression. And blood is red.


In 1973, when Toni Morrison published her second novel Sula, she changed black feminist literary criticism forever. In fact, I like to day that black feminists created black feminist literary criticism to deal with Sula, the character and the text. In partnership with her first novel The Bluest Eye, Morrison’s Sula does more than insert black female characters into a literary scene that had ignored and caricaturized them. With these two novels Morrison insists that the very form of the novel must bend and bow and breathe and move to witness the experiences of black women and girls. The Bluest Eye could have been the first contemporary black female bildungsroman (coming of age story), except that Pecola, the main character (but not necessarily the protagonist) never grows up. Incestuous rape and violent racism shatter anything that would dare look like growth in that novel. Even the flowers. One could argue that in The Bluest Eye white supremacy (in the voice of the falling apart Dick and Jane reading primers) is the protagonist, and Pecola herself is the antagonist, criminalized for a small attempt at existence and vanguished by the pervasive triumph of racism, as patriarchalism, as capitalism and the death of a soul, the splitting of a mind. The Bluest Eye is Morrison’s first major study of what it means to be re(a)d. What happens when we are excluded from the very language we learn to read in? What are the dreadful consequences of an agreed upon social reading of black girls that spells us “worthless”?

Sula could have been the first contemporary black female bildungsroman, except that whereas The Bluest Eye leaves the main character with a split mind, witnessed by the black girls who survive, Sula is an intersubjective novel with two protagonists that cannot exist without each other, Sula and Nel grow apart, but the love between girls is the miracle, hope and home of this novel (a theme Morrison will return to in her most recent novel Love).

Sula arrived well placed in time to become the catalyst that it was and is for black feminist literary criticism. The book was published right when the first black women’s lit courses were being taught in newly formed Black Studies and Women’s Studies programs in colleges in the NorthEast. The two foundational texts of black feminist literary studies, Mae Gwendolyn Henderson’s “Speaking in Tongues: Dialogics, Dialectics and the Black Women Writer’s Literary Tradition” and Barbara Smith’s “Towards a Black Feminist Criticism” both read Sula as their primary text and as an instance through which to imagine what black feminist literary criticism could be. Even though Morrison wouldn’t achieve national recognition until she “manned” up…or won the National Book of the Month Club selection for Song of Solomon (a radical and beautiful and rich book in it’s own rite), Sula was the book black feminists clung to. Audre Lorde mentions in an interview that she doesn’t care that it was Song of Solomon that Morrison won the award for…it is Sula that “lit me up like a Christmas tree”.

And indeed one of the topics we can discuss is why Morrison gained national recognition once she wrote a novel that centered around a black man. It might be helpful to realize that when Morrison won the National Book of the Month Club selection she became the first African-American writer since Richard Wright to do so.

The passages that cause black feminists to canonize Sula are the passages about mutual self invention that occur between Sula and Nel. The most cited passage is the one where the narrator explains the destined friendship of the two girls noting that “having long ago realized they were neither white nor male…they went about creating something else to be.” This is a proposition as far reaching as to appear in Afro-Scottish Maud Sulter’s description of a art exhibit she curated in England and as long lasting as to reappear as the “different sort of subject” that Hortense Spillers asks for in her 1987 essay “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe”. The two other moments of the text that black feminists theorists drew in the sky are Sula’s insistence when her grandmother suggests she should settle down and have some babies that “I don’t want to make someone else. I want to make myself.” This challenge to motherhood completes the critique of heteropatriarchy that allows Barbara Smith to claim Sula as a “lesbian” text alongside the books final revelation that the loss of a husband is nothing compared with the loss of a girl friend. And the book ends with the word that has framed all of my days. Girl, girl, girl, girl, girl.

Spiraling out into this moment the desperation in that one world, girl speaks the prayer to the only thing that I believe can save us, and that is the love between women and girls of color that fills us with the bravery to make a new world language. When the Irish boys in the novel attempt to attack Nel and Sula, with designs on sexual abuse, Sula cuts of the tip of her finger…shifting the boys’ reading of her from prey to predator. Re(a)d is the color of threat. Is the color of blood, of nothing to lose, of everything born to be remade.

So today as I dress myself in re(a)d on behalf of my sisters and my own survival take me as a sign.

  1. Whaddya Mean, “We”? Or Why I’ll Wear Red on Halloween

    Commentary: When black feminism isn’t enough: A brand new sisterhood takes on the politics of pronouns.

    http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2007/10/dickerson-black-feminism-pronouns.html

  2. I’m wearing red today like I promised those over at Document the Silence I would to show my solidarity with women and men everywhere who are committed to standing up to violence against women and speaking out to what’s beginning to feel like open season against women of color.

    http://somethingwithin-rjweems.blogspot.com/2007/10/im-wearing-red-today.html

  3. I’m wearing red today like I promised those over at Document the Silence I would to show my solidarity with women and men everywhere who are committed to standing up to violence against women and speaking out to what’s beginning to feel like open season against women of color.

    http://somethingwithin-rjweems.blogspot.com/2007/10/im-wearing-red-today.html

  4. We are a group of American Indians and friends that know and worked with Joy Loftin while she was employed at the Vanderbilt YMCA here in New York City. During the length of her employment, several extremely disturbing incidents occurred that cause us to be concerned and call into question the motives and the integrity of Shan Colorado Finnerty, Hortensia Colorado, and Elvira Colorado.
    On several occasions, Joy came to work with visible bruises on her neck and arms. She eventually explained to us that Shan had punched, beaten, and choked her and she asked us for help. As wardens for the community, we tried to place Joy in women’s shelters around the city in an effort to mitigate the abuse. However, at the urging of Shan’s mother and aunt, Hortensia and Elvira, she returned to their apartment and refused to press criminal charges against Shan Colorado Finnerty. The abuse continued and one day, she came to work very early, visibly distressed and crying, with more bruises and abrasions. She said that Shan had verbally abused and beaten her once again; that she wanted to return to California, and that she was going to quit her job and reunite with her family. She tendered her resignation later that week. Out of concern for her safety and in an effort to find out what happened to her, we requested an officer from the domestic violence unit of the 5th Precinct conduct a welfare check at their home on Kenmare Street. However the officer was unable to find anyone at the apartment, and therefore could not verify that Joy was safe. We realize that she is suffering from battered women’s syndrome and may be unable to help herself due to the isolationist environment that the Colorados have formed around her. Abusive men are often enabled by their family, while the victim is persuaded to believe the abuse is her fault, and the pattern of emotional and physical trauma continues. Taking into consideration what has happened to Joy Loftin, it is especially deceitful that their display “Altar: El Llanto De La Resistencia” at the American Indian Community House was in part dedicated to victims of domestic violence.
    In light of these events, we are dismayed, disappointed, and outraged to know that members of the American Indian Community would commit, condone, and perpetuate domestic abuse and violence, while simultaneously conducting workshops, writing and performing plays, and displaying works and art that would have the public and those who support them believe otherwise. It is a vulgar and offensive misrepresentation of American Indian Culture, and further support of Coatlicue Theater, Hortensia Colorado, Elvira Colorado, Shan Colorado Finnerty and their work is tantamount to supporting domestic abuse and violence. Considering their duplicitous behavior, having them represent American Indian Culture is an insult to the dignity of American Indians and an affront to human beings.
    We are therefore informing you we will not attend nor support any Coatlicue Theater productions or events where they will be featured. We will be encouraging others that might consider attending, participating, or funding them to do the same. Our actions are warranted, and to be associated with the aforementioned individuals and Coatlicue Theater would be equivalent to enabling and contributing to such offensive behaviour.
    We urge you to reevaluate your support of Coatlicue Theater and the Colorados, and question the individuals concerned. Until the responsible individuals are held accountable and measures are taken to verify that the abuse is no longer occurring, we will continue with our boycott, and will strongly urge others to do the same.

  5. these are my two pieces from last year (Sorry about the spacing issues, I am still fixing the formatting from the transition to the new blog.)

    http://profbw.squarespace.com/home/2007/10/30/a-reminder-wear-red.html
    http://profbw.squarespace.com/home/2007/10/31/what-is-violence-against-woc.html

  6. Greetings sisters,
    Remembering your powerful blog posts from 2007 fills my heart! This year I am creating a podcast for Oct 31st (be bold be red day from now until we stop the violence). I would love to feature your voices! If anyone has the ability to send me an audio file of themselves…reading their piece from 2007 or saying anything it occurs to you to say now….
    please do by Oct 20th.

    Much love,
    Alexis Pauline Gumbs

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