Sunday, April 08, 2007

Kiri Davis: A Girl Like Me

At a training on girls' programming that I attended as a participant a few years ago, we were walking through a piece of the curriculum that dealt with the gender stereotypes that girls face. My colleague and I asked the facilitators about how to best go about this activity with girls of color. Given our experiences (especially as white staff members) with the girls we provided programming for, it seemed to both of us that you can't really separate girls' experience of race from their experience of gender. Wouldn't it be confusing and counterproductive to separate race from gender in this way in an activity for girls, particularly when discussing the topic of stereotypes?

So, we posed this question to the women who were leading the training. Their response was baffling. They said to leave race outside of the discussion, that it is really a separate issue from gender. They gave the following analogy, "It is like if you are talking about chicken, talk about chicken, don't talk about beef. That is for another discussion."

This has stuck with me for a long time and been the topic of many discussions that I have had with women, and in particular women who work with girls. I can't think of of one person who has given this topic any thought that they experience their race and their gender as separate and distinct, like two completely different main dishes. My experience as a woman is informed by race, and vice versa.

So the first time I watched A Girl Like Me, I was struck at how clearly then 16 year old Kiri Davis was able to articulate in film, teen girls' experience of race and gender. Listen to the girls talk about hair-- this is the territory of women of color, as a place different from white women, different than men of color.

Watch her video over at Cosmo Girl (it's worth getting through the crazy-pink ad for a razor) and vote for her-- she will win $10,000.

Learn more about Kiri and her work here and here

For more on Kenneth Clark's The Doll Test

And don't forget to comment. I'm curious what others think.

(Thanks to Jessica at Feministing -- that is where I learned of the contest!)

1 comment:

LoLove said...

As I have learned the separation of race and gender is an individual thing...some people do see those pieces of their identities as separate entities,whereas I could draw no line to separate them for myself.

To claim that one should see them (race and gender) as separate pieces of self, steps on individual views. The claim to insist that separation is dangerous and inappropriate, especially from leader.

From my perspective I have been around a lot of bi-racial people, and when asked to pick which race you are, it's confusing, because being bi-racial, means not picking, being part of multiple races. And this is important, we can try to de-construct ourselves, but there's a line where you can't slice yourself into separate identities that have nothing to do with each other. On that note, people are people, but they are also their race, gender, culture, and everything else that comes with their background, separating those things changes the powerful beauty of wholeness.

-Lauren KJ

p.s. I'm going to Woodhull next weekend!