A Groundbreaking Workshop

What a groundbreaking workshop! We were forty-two powerful South, West, and Central Asian women. One woman had traveled from Palestine and another from Trinidad and Tobago. Four had come from Denmark, Sweden, and Ireland. I am a twenty-four-year-old Indian and Jewish woman living in Connecticut, USA.

South, Central, and West Asian women have a deep understanding of sexism and male domination. Our voices need to be heard.

We are deeply connected with each other in our countries of origin, but our connections are not encouraged in the white-dominated communities that many of us come to. We need help reclaiming them. We need to push for deeper connections with each other—to where we do not doubt that we can fall into each other’s arms, hold hands walking down the street, and tell each other everything.

Azi gave each woman from outside the United States a chance to work on what it was like to be in this country. Many of the USers discharged along with these women as they revealed the harshness of the racism and sexism aimed at them as Arab Muslim women.

On Saturday morning Azi counseled me in front of the group. I am a dark-skinned Indian woman who was adopted from India as an infant. I was told that a nun at the orphanage took me outside in the sun to make my skin darker, so that a U.S. family would adopt me. I got the message that my own people would not want me, that dark-skinned women were ugly and stupid, and that white people were better. Azi let me rage against this. She had all of the South Asian women come to the front to contradict the feeling that I was not wanted. She pointed out all the dark-skinned women in the group. I realized that “dark-skinned” felt to me like a negative term. Just to hear her say it in a loving tone was a contradiction.2 

Azi talked about how the effects of war on women are rarely looked at. Men who go to war in our countries do horrible things to the women there. They also come home and act out violence, sexism, and male domination in their own families. Azi counseled a number of women in front of the group, some of whom had grown up in countries that were in the midst of war. Those of us raised in the United States need to hear these stories. Being numb and not having information are ways of complying with U.S. imperialism.

The following seven articles, taken from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of women, are about the South, West, and Central Asian Women’s Workshop, led by Azi Khalili, assisted by Diane Balser,1 near Boston, Massachusetts, USA, in December 2012.

Malana Rogers-Bursen

Hartford, Connecticut, USA

(Present Time 171, April 2013)


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Last modified: 2017-05-31 15:31:56-07