What is Black feminism and intersectional feminism and why are they relevant to girls of color in South Los Angeles? How do they disrupt white supremacy and what can younger Black, Latinx, indigenous and Asian American feminists learn from older generation feminists of color and vice versa? What does it mean, as bell hooks says in her book Feminism is for Everybody, that, “[we’re] socialized from birth on to accept sexist thought and action…[and] in order to end patriarchy we need to be clear that we are all participants in perpetuating sexism”?
Youth leaders debated and spoke to these questions at the recent Future of Feminism youth leadership conference at Cal State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). Sponsored by the Women’s Leadership Project, the L.A. County Human Relations Commission and Media Done Responsibly, the conference featured youth-facilitated workshops, videos, presentations, and a musical performance by women and girls of color from across Los Angeles County. Students from Dorsey High School, Gardena High School, Fremont High School, Diego Rivera Academy, Carson High School, King-Drew Magnet High School and Miguel Contreras Learning Complex attended the conference. The event was emceed by WLP alumni and former foster care youth Clay Wesley (WLP 2009, Mount St Mary’s University, 2018) and Drea Wooden (WLP 2017). The conference kicked off with a
WLP-produced video on sexual harassment and sexual violence prevention, spotlighting the perspectives of youth from the 2016 cohort at Gardena High School. The video was followed by a student panel on the #MeToo movement featuring WLP students and alumni from Gardena, Dorsey, and King-Drew. Students Imani Moses (WLP 2011), Lizeth Soria (WLP 2012), Marenda Kyle (WLP 2014), Shania Malone (WLP 2018), Cheyanne Mclaren (WLP 2019) and Lidia Colocho (WLP 2019) discussed the marginalization of black and Latinx girls in mainstream representations about the impact of sexual harassment and sexual violence in school communities. The panelists also challenged straight cis young men to step up as allies in the fight against normalized sexism, sexual harassment, sexual violence and rape culture on school campuses.
College community partners and high school youth conducted workshop presentations on sexual violence and homelessness, Black feminism, gender justice and labor organizing, countering “fake news” and disrupting criminalization in communities of color. Students from the GSA Network, Media Done Responsibly, Peace Over Violenceand the WLP alumni network presented social, racial, and gender justice youth leadership work that they have been doing at partner schools for the past several years. Former WLP intern and CSULB graduate Marlene Montanez presented on the advantages of union organizing and involvement for women and girls of color, drawing from her experience as an undocumented student activist for the Future Undocumented Educational Leaders (FUEL) group.
The conference discussion and planning continued this summer at our annual Black Feminist and Feminist of Color Institutes at the Stoneview Nature Center in Culver City, featuring multi-generational participation from WLP students, Media Done Responsibly, The Positive Results Corporation and LAANE.