When I am asked to speak, it is often about issues that affect Black women. I remind the person extending the invitation that we are not B-WISER, the Black Women’s Institute for Science, Equity and Race.
But recently, I have been thinking. Can I speak about Asian, Hispanic, Native American, and Multiracial women?
Yes, I think about it.
Sometimes I tell myself, “Rhonda, you are tripping. You speak about White women and don’t’ think twice about it!”
When I talk about White women, it is to show how flawed it is to center White women—for example, my Equal Pay Day article.
I can relay what the data show for any group of women: stale, boring, and of little value for policy recommendations. What is needed is someone who can “interpret” the data, which is often done thru the lens of the interpreter’s lived experience. Hence, the same data can tell different stories.
I return to equal pay day.
In order to earn as much as non-Hispanic white men earned in 2020,
Asian American and Pacific Islander women must work until March 9, 2021; White women must work until April 9;
Black women must work until August 3;
Native American women must work until September 8, and
Latinas must work until October 21.
If your lens is gender equality, men vs. women, your focus is the pay inequity between men and women.
If your lens is intersectional, you see the ways these women make less than non-Hispanic white men, and you see the intra-gender inequality. You see that Hispanic women have to work longer than any group of women to earn as much as non-white women. You ask, “How long do Hispanic women have to work to make as much as Asian women (reminding yourself that there are differences by ethnicity within the Asian community)?”
One of WISER’s funders told me, “You are uniquely situated to speak about all women.”
I wish I were uniquely situated to be better at compartmentalizing the continued state violence against our sons, brothers, husbands, and lovers from legislation that will reduce the vulnerability of marginalized populations.
WISER’s mission feels overwhelming at the moment.