Panel Featuring Susan Yi-Millette Explores Feminism and Racial Justice
October 25, 2017
The YWCA of Central Massachusetts presented its annual Racial and Gender Equity Fall Forum, which focused on the topic, "Taking a Hard Look at Feminism through a Racial Justice Lens."
The forum, held October 19th, explored questions such as: What does it mean to identify as a feminist? Are women of color and white women defining it differently? How have women of color and white women experienced the "women's movement" differently? What role does race play in advancing gender equity? What role does gender play in advancing racial equity?
Wheelock College BSW Chair Susan Yi-Millette was part of a diverse panel that included Worcester-area female academics, community organizers, public servants, and legal and media professionals. Wheelock@Worcester Site Coordinator Amy Ebbeson served on the event organizing committee.
Panelist presented their personal narratives and insights of gender and intersectionality as they address their perspectives on feminism. Women's issues were couched in all issues that affect human rights and standing up for social justice is helping families and strengthening all our communities.
Yi-Millette talked about her own background as a Korean-American and how that culture shaped her early career as an outreach worker to Asian-American battered women.
"As a young Korean girl, my job was always to be mindful of the comfort of others," Yi-Millette said. "This in fact is a term in the Korean language called Noonchi. This terms means, to keep an eye out for the other. The most important job for the young daughter is to be a good daughter, to be a servant to others, to keep an eye out and be of service. This is done without having been told to do it, and doing things that serves first the elders in the room and the men in the room. This patriarchy of the gendered lens in a Korean context is one that comes in stark contrast to what happens when Korean women come to this country. Depending on their level of acculturation and assimilation, this will be the crux of the conflict in a family."
Yi-Millette encouraged participants to work on individualized action plans to look inside at their own barriers and to strive for organic relationship building.
Panelist Tahirah Amatul-Wadud spoke about her work as a Muslim lawyer specializing in domestic relations. She pointedly read from Executive Order Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, the executive order issued by the White House this past March.
The panel was moderated by Dr. Nicole Overstreet of Clark University. In addition to Yi-Millette and Wadud, panelists included Dr. Cara Lisa Berg-Powers, Executive Director of Transformative Culture Project; Maritza Cruz, Director of Racial and Gender Equity at the YWCA Central Massachusetts; and Dr. Kristin Waters, Professor of Philosophy, Worcester State University.
Pictured (l to r): Wheelock College BSW Chair Susan Yi-Millette and Wheelock@Worcester Site Coordinator Amy Ebbeson