content warning: harassment
I’m writing this blog post in the aftermath of a challenging weekend for the Harvard community. Hundreds of racist, misogynist, and violently threatening emails were sent primarily to female members of the Asian-American & Pacific Islander (AAPI) undergraduate community. A frightening aspect of this threat is that this email was only the most recent in a series of unwanted attempts at contact from presumably the same individual. Further, soon after the threatening emails were sent, another email hit the inboxes of students who had received the first threat.
This is targeted harassment.
Following these frightening developments, I’m questioning how I can show solidarity, as a woman of color, to the students who received these threats and frightening attempts at contact. How can we, as non-AAPI or non-female individuals, express sentiments of allyship and support to members of our community who are feeling targeted and unsafe?
This requires critical questioning of the ways in which we experience oppression in our daily lives. My experience as a black woman differs in significant ways from the experiences of AAPI women, but this doesn’t mean that I’m unable to express support across our differences, amplifying unheard voices, speaking “with” instead of “for,” and seeking out the intersections and commonalities in our struggles.
A large part of my feminism is recognizing the wholeness of our identity, understanding the ways in which markers such as race, class, gender identity, and sexual identity come together in intersections that create our humanity. Intersectionally speaking, it would be wrong for me to ignore the harassment of other women of color on my campus.
Internalized racism and white supremacy are causes for division in racial organizing, as people of color reiterate the hierarchies of race imposed by histories of white supremacy. “It’s important to acknowledge that although forces beyond our communities started patterns of racial hatred, we can also be oppressive to each other,” writes Jarune Uwujaren. We can begin to fight this internalized oppression in our communities by listening to each other and being good allies – sharing tactics and strengths in the fight against sexist and racist harassment.
As online harassment creates fear and attempts to silence AAPI female voices on my campus, is it not my responsibility to prioritize their experiences and make them heard?
Black women’s harassment happens in different ways than AAPI women’s harassment. This doesn’t mean that one experience is worse than the other. Instead, it opens the door to building a greater understanding of how harassment harms us all. By broadening our anti-racist and feminist work to include all communities of color, we gain strength.
So for now, I will share the words of AAPI sisters in solidarity, call out racialized sexism when I see it, and continue my journey in allyship.
We at the Women’s Center have been thinking a lot about solidarity between people of color, specifically women of color, and have been working on creating a Women of Color Collective, which would serve as a space in which women of color can come together to discuss their experiences and how to best be in solidarity with one another.
Please join us for our kick off event on Tuesday, October 14th at 7pm in Ticknor Lounge to discuss current portrayals of Women of Color in the Media.