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Race, privilege and identity is a gathering taking place in Bristol, UK, late April/ early May 2009.

To contact us to get involved please email: raceprivilegeidentity@riseup.net

Its aim is to engage with issues of race, privilege and identity in radical queer-feminist communities through building dialogue, coalitions and resources.

The gathering will be both practical and issue based, exploring areas of debate and contention within our communities, whilst providing a skill-base so people can feel empowered to constructively tackle multiple forms of exclusion that are silenced through the hidden normativities of radical queer and feminist communities.

The impetus for the gathering was first floated by the kaffequeeria collective in Manchester http://www.kaffequeeria.org.uk/ who have been organising d.i.y queer feminist events in the red brick city for most of the 21st century. Preliminary meetings were held in Manchester, and much of the feedback from these meetings has informed our plans for the gathering in Bristol – which are still of course in their initial stages and we welcome ideas and on-the-ground help! It seemed impractical for the gathering to go ahead in Manchester, and us kids living in Bristol have taken up the hosting baton.

Why RACE?

Discussions to do with race have been growing within feminist, queer and d.i.y communities in the past 2/3 years, intensifying recently through forums such as the zine Race Revolt www.racerevolt.org.uk and queers of colour only e-list/ group, Blackfist: https://lists.riseup.net/www/info/blackfist

Following the launch of Rave Revolt 3 in November 2008, much heated debate occurred on the UK radical queer list, LaDiDah. A practical outcome of these discussions was the decision to make sure the gathering did indeed happen in 2009, to address issues of implicit racism and white privilege – as well as many more issues besides – that continue to affect our communities.

Why are we still having conversations that feminists were having in the 1980s relating to anti-racism? What are the particular inflections of racism that people contend with in the 21st century? Are we building an alternative to homo-normative, imperialist, patriarchal cultures or merely ignoring the issues? These are some of the issues we hope to discuss at the gathering, as well as many more…..

Why PRIVILEGE?

Privilege is something most of us carry into social spaces whether we like to acknowledge it or not.  Whether it is because of the skin colour or type of body we have, our financial situation and access to resources, jobs and opportunities; privilege can be an issue that generates defensiveness and shame when it is broached.

We hope, by including the term within the gathering’s remit, people can feel empowered to discuss the topic in ways that are productive, practical and wide-reaching.

We are inspired by web-projects such as http://www.enoughenough.org/ as a way of having engaged discussions about economic privilege and hope to share many more resources, and link in with other exciting projects, in the lead up to this gathering.

Why IDENTITY?

Didn’t identity politics kill feminism? Isn’t queer supposed to be anti-identity?

While most discussion of identity within feminist, queer and anti-capitalist communities is met with shudder (and rightly so with the advent of ID cards and the police state), it seems that the ‘identity’ which is normatively privileged in feminist and queer spaces remains white and able-bodied.

While imposed, structural and identitarian categories may not be chosen identities per se, the politics of where we are multiply located does have an impact on who we are and how we feel within community spaces.

It has an impact on the type of politics we do and the type of spaces we can go to. See this excellent anti-racist, space monitoring guide: http://www.feministactivistforum.org.uk/Anti-Racism%20Feminism/AntiRacist_Spaces_Audit.pdf

If radical queer and feminist spaces are, in reality, only speaking to the concerns of upwardly mobile, able-bodied white folks, then ‘our’ politics will be radically circumscribed in the effectiveness by serving the interests of the activist elite.

We bring the issue of identity to the table of gathering to ask: how do we find ways to honour and make more visible the different identities or locations in our communities? Why should we be ashamed of talking about identity & location and mobilising this as a political tool – the personal is the political after all…..

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One Comment

  1. Your event sounds really interesting. I’d love to attend. Any more info, espec dates? Its a long way for me to travel (Glasgow) so I’ll need to get time off work / book travel tickets in advance.

    Whether I make it or not, hope it goes well.

    I’ve been around queer / feminist spaces for about 7 years. Would be very interested in doing what I can (probably very little 😦 as I’m relatively inactive just now due to personal circs) to make them more accessible and diverse.

    Best wishes with your project,
    Alice
    (white and able bodied)


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