Hello! I’m Nicole Clark, a licensed social worker and independent evaluator, specializing in working with nonprofits and city agencies to design, implement, and evaluate programs and services specifically for women and girls of color.
Women and girls of color face many intersectional issues connected to race and gender. When it comes to mainstream feminism, all too often the voices of Black, Latina, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native/Indigenous women are not always heard compared to their white counterparts.
Hot Tip: Avoid the “white feminist savior” complex. Feminist blogger Anne Thériault, wrote “The White Feminist Savior Complex”. In the post, Thériault reacts to Teju Cole’s essay, The White Savior Industrial Complex, in which she began to understand that, in order to raise the voices of communities of color, people of color have to be the decision makers in how the issues they care about are addressed. Thériault shares, “…[T]he best and most important work that we can do is to listen to marginalized people, give them a platform from which they can reach a wider audience, and use our platforms to help amplify their voices. This is the real work that we should be doing. Anything else — any other way of ‘freeing’ women of color — is at best condescending…”
Lesson Learned: Recognize the ways in which you hold privilege. As a person of color, I am intentional in choosing which evaluation projects to work on because I am invested in all communities of color, especially women and girls of color. But I also have to recognize the ways in which I hold privilege. This is especially important when conducting evaluation work overseas. When we don’t recognize our privilege, it can affect our perception in ways that are hurtful to other can hurt the communities were are trying to help.
Rad Resource: Check out this poetry slam performance called “Feminism” from the 2014 Brave New Voices Festival, the nation’s first youth-centric poetry slam, and the most diverse spoken word event in the world. The performance features young poets as they tackle the topic of mainstream feminism, and highlights how race should not prevent women and girls of color from being a visible part of the movement for gender equality. While there is a long way to go towards fully realizing gender equality, the young women say in unison, “Feminism isn’t just for white women any more, and it never was. Even when we disagree, we are burning the table, [and] building a new one. No one is invited because everyone is already here.”
The American Evaluation Association is celebrating Feminist Issues in Evaluation (FIE) TIG Week with our colleagues in the FIE Topical Interest Group. The contributions all this week to aea365 come from our FIE TIG members. Do you have questions, concerns, kudos, or content to extend this aea365 contribution? Please add them in the comments section for this post on the aea365 webpage so that we may enrich our community of practice. Would you like to submit an aea365 Tip? Please send a note of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org. aea365 is sponsored by the American Evaluation Association and provides a Tip-a-Day by and for evaluators.