Feminism has gained mainstream status in recent years, which is unequivocally good progress. One of the movement's growing focuses is to make sure that it caters to the equality of women of all races and ethnicities — not just White women. But what does it mean to be a minority woman in the world today? In a society where the odds are mostly stacked against them, we asked these women of color to tell us the best advice they've received, whether it's about love, life, career, friendship, or family.
Among the terms being used in feminism's 21st century manifestation is "intersectionality," the concept that the fight for gender equality should — and must — take into account the different experiences that women face based on their race, class, and ability. If it's hard to be a woman today, it is even more challenging to be one facing cultural and historical biases. Issues such as poverty, economic security, access to education, and health insecurities are even more difficult to overcome for women of color; a one-size-fits-all feminism cannot work.
But minority women have taken things into their own able hands, actively making efforts to empower and inspire each other. A Plus talked to some women of color to find out the words of advice they've received that helped do the same for them.
Ogang is the founder of Minority Women in Business (MWB), an organization that connects and supports minority women professionals and entrepreneurs. The advice she's received about being different has helped her embrace the fact that she stands out naturally.
"Not everyone will love you," she adds, "but at least you will love yourself in the process."
Dr. Luz Claudio
Claudio moved from Puerto Rico to New York at 22 to study medicine. At the time, her mentor told her to use her background to her advantage.
Today, she is a tenured professor of preventive medicine and chief of the Division of International Health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Claudio also works with minority communities who are impacted by environmental pollutants that affect the brain, and has taken similar efforts to Latin America.
Her work can be found on her website.
Samuels is a Harlem-based photographer. Her mom's timeless advice about love and independence from is something we all can relate to.
Lizarondo is co-founder and CEO of 412 Food Rescue, a nonprofit that rescues and donates food waste to organizations that serve the hungry. She moved to New York from Manila, Philippines, when she was 24, and later to Pittsburgh for Carnegie Mellon University.
Coleman told her fifth-grade teacher that she wanted to be a judge and the advice she got in response still sticks with her today.
The daughter of a Hawaiian mother and German-Jewish father (and great-great granddaughter of Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani's lady in waiting), Sperber's mom's words have helped see her through some dark times, and maintain graciousness and gratitude in life.