As I type this, I’m thinking, “Really? Do I really have to address this?”
Something which I’ve noticed over the last six months is that when a controversial topic emerges within one of gal-dem’s articles, the immediate response is to hold all women of colour accountable, whether these be comments or messages from friends directly to myself and other members of the team.
These have all been opinion pieces, in which we allow for the diverse body of lived experiences, thoughts and opinions of the women of colour who contribute for us to be showcased. The ethos behind gal-dem is to open up the varied thoughts and opinions of individuals (who wouldn’t normally be represented) to a large audience. As the editor-in-chief, this is not about me reproducing my thoughts and feelings; I’m here to learn, engage and discuss interesting topics with our writers as much as everyone else. Mainstream media tends to homogenise what it means to be a woman, and even more so what it means to be a woman of colour, something which we are directly aiming to counter.
Perhaps the difficulty in dividing the opinion of one writer from the opinion of every other, or every woman of colour lies in the fact that there aren’t many publications which solely centre the voices of writers of colour. I can’t imagine a time where the Guardian or Vice are asked to write disclaimers under their opinion pieces stating that they are not representative of the voices of all those from the same racial grouping, class background or gender as the writer. Opinions are exactly that, they are not facts. And yes, despite my left-wing political stance, I would allow for a Conservative woman of colour to offer her opinion (not that we’ve received pitches from this camp to date), provided it has been well-researched, is convincing and fits in with our editorial style.
gal-dem as a publication is a celebration of diversity, a celebration of our similarities and differences, and as we grow, I hope to spark more conversations around topics which aren’t always discussed through mainstream channels. Debate is healthy, and I love nothing more than to see people actively engaging with our pieces, whether they agree with that particular perspective or not. I’d just ask people to bear in mind that we cannot speak on behalf of all women of colour, as a team, and on the basic level as human beings we have internal debates. Not all women of colour think the same.
We are thinking of starting a column called #askgaldem where in turn, our writers will offer their opinions on questions which are frequently thrown our way. Let us know if this is something which you might be interested in!
Some of the comments we have received so far include things like:
“I think black women are beautiful more over all women more over all people (to an extent), why is it that beautiful black women with traditional black features are so rarely admired in western media/culture?”
“I’m now in place where I have decided to cut off most of my friends because they’re micro aggressors, they choose not to be educated, and make caviler statements. Not to mention they try to argue with me about black history. I’m not in school currently, just working and I’m not in any place to make any like-minded friends. How do you suggest making friends and fighting severe isolation? I spend a lot of time composing music and building my throne from my room but the lack of human interaction is driving me crazy.”
“Do you think that calling people out for cultural appropriation is counter-productive? I never felt possessive over my culture and loved other people trying bits out (even if they look silly to me) but now I feel like I SHOULD be offended. This is really just making my culture more and more separate rather than the melting pot that spreads acceptance and love and tolerance. It sometimes feels like PoC have started their own ‘you can’t sit with us’ cult. And no one ever mentions white people of unique cultures? Like the whole world claiming they are Irish on St Patrick’s day.”
We are always looking for interesting writers to add their opinions to these debates, if you have any pitches – send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.