So I’m at the UN at the moment, and I wanna say this:
If you are white, and want to be an ally – then please consider that possibly the most powerful act you can make as an allly is to NOT do something.
Like… NOT take up a spot on a panel for Asia-Pacific women.
Check your own sense of entitlement. You don’t HAVE to inject yourself into the space. If you think your presence allows for “balance” then stop fooling yourself. Your presence is the default. It saturates your own, as well as our, existence. You get every other space, so occupying a space defined for us, even alongside us, only perpetuates imbalance. We will only ever START to get NEAR balance when you stop occupying our spaces and make way for us to FILL spaces with our bodies, our faces, our realities and our experiences and solutions.
Even if you’re asked to enter a space you can refuse, you know. You can do it. Don’t be a slave to your genetic disposition to colonize spaces. You have two legs, just use them to step back rather than forward. You have a mouth, you can use it to say “thankyou but I think it’s more appropriate that non-native women take a back seat here and I’m just thankful that I can listen and learn from the native women who are more than capable of filling these spaces”. That would be a powerful ally act.
And understand that when you take a forum titled “Asia Pacific Women Heal the Ocean” – you are referring to an indigenous region steamrolled by settler colonialism so when you use it to talk about white feminism framed as “gender issues” it is another act of colonization. Don’t look now but you may as well be a white man to me – there’s NO DIFFERENCE in a white woman colonizing my space than a white man. There isn’t even a sense of betrayal because I’ve come not to expect a form of sorority from you now anyway. I’ve been colonized by you so many times that my default space is to expect it and when that DOESN’T happen I’m happily surprised. When it does (again) I just see it as your genetic disposition, a byproduct of your role in the colonial patriarchy.
When you position these discussions in your own white feminism framework you erase our indigeneity, because our struggles are DIFFERENT to white womens struggles. They’re not the same. They’re not. Some of our struggles are BECAUSE of white women. Like, you know, when they OCCUPY our spaces. Our struggles are distinct. Our strengths are distinct. Our solutions are definitely distinct so don’t title a panel “Asia Pacific women…” and spend the whole time talking about “gender issues” but meaning white feminism as if we are all the same. That’s not just racist it’s heteronormative. BIG fail.
And wahine ma – we need to step up and into these spaces too. When we sit back, our spaces get occupied and we have to stop allowing that to happen. Get in there. Get heard.
Young indigenous women are watching and learning what it is to be a leader.