Another feminist killjoy writing about race and justice

As my time with this column and at Mt. A approaches its end, I think back to several months in September. I was in a meeting with the editors-in-chief of the Argosy, Adrian and Mirelle, about early formulations of the column. They asked me about the intent of my writing and who my audience would be.

As many young people do, I struggled immensely grappling with my identity as a racialized woman throughout university. A good friend of mine calls this moment in our lives a “racial awakening.” We grow up in the same body all our lives, but then there comes a point where the body gains meaning.

I am learning to come to terms with the reality of life as a woman of colour. In a way, I accept that racist microaggressions, overt racism, internalized racism, misogyny, systemic racism, white supremacy, colonialism, imperialism, racialized fetishization and institutional racism are unavoidable. It is terrible and confusing, but it is the truth.

Especially at Mt. A; there are fewer resources and support systems for oppressed peoples. This is not to say that a compassionate community of students, staff and faculty does not exist here. Rather, there is a lack of prioritization of, or even the responsibility to adhere to, an anti-oppressive framework in the University and holding those in positions of power accountable. We have to ask: Who is at the table? Whose voices have been consistently heard and supported? Who is not at the table? Whose voices have been consistently (and institutionally) silenced? It was these questions that guided and led to the creation of Another Feminist Killjoy. My intention has always been to write to, and for, other racialized people on campus – I see you and I love you.

Over the past year, this column has presented itself to be a humbling platform to discuss conversations around white fragility, anti-blackness, climate justice, anti-capitalist feminism, migrant justice and more. While these conversations occur in select courses, they represent a microcosm within the entire system that ignores the teaching of racial, queer, classed and gendered topics and politics that exist in each discipline. Justice and liberation are concerned with fine arts, science and commerce just as much as they are with economics, politics and morals. We actively choose not to teach and learn about those intersections.

If anything, I hope this column emphasizes that now is not the time to be sitting idle. In whichever way you are able to, lend your skills to the resistance. If your voice has been denied, create your own space. As the original feminist killjoy Sara Ahmed says, “We fight because we dream for a more just world.… These resources might include a certain willingness to cause trouble, to kill joy, yes, to be misfits and warriors, but they also involve humour, laughter, dance, eating and drinking, all the ways we have to nourish ourselves and each other. We have to do what we can, when we can.”

The work of a feminist killjoy is never over.

Tina Oh