When people discuss identity, it is typically discussed within one category or frame but in reality, such defined categories aren’t all-inclusive.
Sometimes, a person’s identity exists at the intersections of multiple categories.
Qolors, an annual community-building reception, had its 10-year anniversary Thursday in the Samuel E. Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center’s Unity Room, celebrating queer and trans* people of color. This was one of the Queer People of Color Alliance’s many events this week.
Via The Daily
The theme of the events was “Art for the Heart.” The reception in particular featured Cat Harris-White, Luzviminda Uzuri Carpenter, and Nic Masangkay.
Carpenter, creator of WonderLab Culture Collective, discussed her personal hardships with intersectionality, and the ways gender-based violence is perpetrated by society.
“The only reason that I have an identity anyways, and have had to consistently name it, is because of the way that the world operates,” Carpenter said.
People with marginalized identities face increased discrimination, speakers explained. If a person occupies two or more oppressed categories — for example, a black, queer female — they face discrimination from the majority twofold.
Simultaneously, they can run the risk of being shunned from their very own niche communities because they occupy such a specific intersection of identities. This can happen either because their voice is deemed irrelevant, their voice takes away from the “overall argument/movement,” and/or they “just need to pick a side.”
Masangkay discussed this more specifically in their three poems, which involved gender identity and being Filipino. As they spoke, tears accumulated in audience members’ eyes.
“Nobody can face two directions at once,” they recited from their poem “José Rizal.” “So when you call me a traitor, I am a target walking backwards to move forward.”
Harris-White, a musician, professional creative, and queer business woman, said her main concern and goal is bringing people together.
Protests and organized gatherings serve as the best mode of expression for some, but others prefer different routes.
“I decided that my true activism is my art,” Harris-White said.
Not only did the event promote activism, but the physical space as well.
Q Center Director Jen Self recalled the establishment of the Q Center. Working together with Marisa Herrera, the Kelly Ethnic Cultural Center’s executive director, they created the first resource for queer people and queer people of color (QPoC) on the UW campus.
“You could just feel that there had not been a space made for QPoC,” Self said, pausing to regain control of her voice as tears welled up in her eyes. “Just sitting in a room together for the first time was a big deal; the pain that they expressed in that first meeting and the joy that they created.”
Despite the Q Center’s successful history, many challenges remain.
“This is a dangerous time in America,” Herrera said. “When policies are being written, passed, and enforced that require the disbanding of programs.”
Despite times of hardship, Herrera insisted the event, and everyone in attendance, was a celebration and something to be proud of.