QWOC WEEK Mention in American Psychological Association Newsletter!

Here is the excerpt from the Fall 2008 publication of the APA Divisiono 44 Newsletter. Division 44 is the Society for the Psychological Study of Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Issues. The excerpt can be found on pages 24-25.

A Framework for Advocacy with Queer African American Women
Konjit Page, University of North Dakota

I’d like to spend our brief time together speaking a little
about what we do and don’t know about working with queer
people of color, specifically Black lesbian and bisexual
women. I’d also like to talk about how to engage working
with queer Black communities through some recent examples
of work I am currently participating in that could perhaps be
seen as a one approach in working with this community.
When we look at the experiences of queer people as described
by researchers and scholars in our field, the experiences
of queer people of color have largely been ignored.
Often the queer community that usually gets referred to is
the gay, male and white populations of this group. When we
look towards the literature on Black lesbian and bisexual
women, what we see is an even a smaller amount of information,
though there are those out there broadening this
work.so we are talking about the experience of being Black in
this country, of being a woman in this country and of being
queer in this country. We’re talking about dealing with racism,
sexism, homophobia—and, in many cases, these experiences
occurring concurrently.

When taking a social justice approach in working with
communities of color, specifically with Black lesbian and
bisexual communities, three things stick out to me as important.
First, taking into account knowledge about relevant
issues pertaining LGB people of color. Second, being able
to engage in difficult dialogues about these issues. Third,
understanding (and addressing) the interactions between
varying forms of privilege (racial and heterosexual) and
oppression. To highlight these three points, I want to provide
an example of some recent work that I have undertaken
in the Boston community:

A couple of years ago, a friend established an organization
called, “QWOC+ Boston”—“QWOC” referring to Queer
Women of Color. The group puts on various social functions
for queer women of color in Boston, really fulfilling a need
that was missing in this town. Last week, the first ever
“QWOC Week” was held in Boston. During the initial planning,
the organizer and I spoke about the lack of information
about health-related issues for queer women of color. Knowing
my research and clinical interests, I was invited to put
together a panel discussion on health- and healthcare-related
issues for queer women of color. In beginning this process, I
first spoke with the other planning committee members and
volunteers (all queer women of color) to understand what
information they felt was missing or that they needed. I also
broadened this to include volunteers and friends of volunteers.

My next step was to get feedback from clinicians and
other healthcare providers in the area that were already doing
this work. One of the things I continue to be amazed about
is how researchers and some folks in our field fail to acknowledge
community activists and community organizations
that may have been doing the work that we’re just now attempting
to do—for the past twenty years. This is why it is
vital for all psychologists working from an advocacy framework
on queer issues to recognize that community members
may not trust you due to previous negative interactions with
other individuals or organizations in psychology.

About the Author

QWOC Media WireQueer Women of Color Media Wire is a media advocacy organization that amplifies media and thought leadership of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women, including gender non-conforming racial and ethnic minorities all across the globe. Follow us on Twitter @qwocmediawire, Tumblr (http://qwocmediawire.tumblr.com/), or Like us on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/qwocmediawire).View all posts by QWOC Media Wire →