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Make Space For Your Siblings

(Originally posted on Wellesley Underground, an alternative alum magazine)

By Diamond Sharp, Class of 2011

During my time at Wellesley, I had multiple conversations with other self-identified feminist (and/or womanist) students of color about how uncomfortable we felt in Wellesley’s flagship feminist organizations and spaces. I was often asked during my first year why I hadn’t joined a purposeful feminist organization since feminist activism was such a integral part of my identity as I entered Wellesley from high school. (Many of my fellow 2011ers know that I edited a feminist literary journal from ages 16-19, trained male allies for feminist causes and ran a feminist open mic in high school. For the rest of you, now you know.)

The honest answer is that I didn’t join feminist and pro-choice Wellesley organizations because I did not find them to be safe spaces for women of color. Wellesley prides itself on its “Safe Spaces” in their various capacities around campus. As an incoming first-year, I thought that the one guaranteed Safe Space would be the self-identified feminist organizations as we were at a womens’ college. I soon found through personal interactions, however, that this was not the case. In fact, other POC felt that these spaces were the least safe for POC. To that end, it should be noted that oftentimes members of these organizations did not consciously and/or knowingly make these organizations and spaces uncomfortable for myself and other POC on campus; rather, inherent structures perpetuated these problems.

Yet, there ...