Discrimination Against Women of Color

Table of Content

It is a challenging pursuit for people to extract racism, sexism, and hetersexism among other systems of opression from their daily lives. The truth, is if you are a woman, queer person, or person of color, it is twice if not three times harder to eliminate these types of oppression. This is because these systems of oppression are interconnected and serve as enormous barriers that keep minorities, women and transgender and queer folks from living the aggression-free life they should live. Looking at gender oppression through the lens of racism tells the story of how a woman of color, per say, experiences double the amount of hardships and discrimination than a white woman might face based on gender because the latter has the advantage of race. As a result of the intersectionality of gender oppression and race, women of color have experienced harassment and racial microaggressions in the workplace which have left these women with experiencing high levels of depression and anxiety that has overtime lead to the normalization of violence within their communities.

The concept of intersectionality essentially describes how people are disadvantaged by multiple sources of oppression such as race, class, gender, sexuality, and religion among other identity markers. More specifically, when talking about the intersectionality of gender oppression and race, a white women, for example, can be discriminated against because of her gender but ultimately has the advantage of race. A black woman, however, is disadvantaged by both her gender and her race. On the other hand, a Latina woman who identifies as lesbian is discriminated on the basis of her gender, sexuality, and ethnicity. Furthermore, gender oppression cannot be examined alone in order to be eliminated since each of these identity markers contribute differently to a woman’s experience of oppression.

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The discrimination a woman of color faces doesn’t always correlate with negative stereotypes such as the single mother on welfare or the “modern Mammy” (Wingfield). A woman of color who is intelligent, outspoken, and successful becomes subject to gendered racism in the form of being called a black bitch (Wingfield). Despite a woman representing the opposite of a negative stereotype, her persona is still judged and described with racial slurs and negative comments. This type of gendered racism makes it difficult for a woman of color not to be profiled as one or the other. The racial microaggressions that occur in the workplace such as dismissive treatment or a colleague making fun of a woman’s accent undermine a woman’s skill or capacity which overtime takes an emotional toll on a woman who must remain passive and non-confrontational in order to not jeopardize her job.

The women of color that make up this gender minority in the workplace include, African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern women, among a plethora of other ethnicities, that have all joined the labor force in order to help support themselves and their families. Fear to confront a sexist and/or racist aggressor is what ultimately increases the psychological stressors that these women of color endure. Therefore, there is a continuous cycle that woman of color are trapped in because some women remain silent and allow these injustices to occur, not because they want to, but because they have no choice or they risk losing their jobs or in some severe cases their life. Women have internalized these patterns of oppression and exacerbated by the pressure of powerlessness, violence against women of color and their children becomes normalized within the community (Lorde).

Women of color who have succumbed to a heteronormative standard of remaining inferior to a man and remaining passive in violent situations have resulted in the normalization of violence against women. The heteronormative traditional view that a woman must respond to her husband or any man and not challenge anything he says has been passed down many generations. When a woman who is outspoken and independent joins the workforce, there can be a lot of hostility and discrimination against her. Without any support from colleagues, women of color suffer in isolation.

In the workplace African American and Latina women are among the lowest paid wage earners in America and often targets of sterilization without their consent. Not being able to provide enough for their family or dealing with the pain of not being able to bear children contribute to the emotional suffering women of color go through and it weakens their confidence and self esteem. Also, the controlling images in the media illustrate Latina women as ideal for low-paying domestic service and janitorial work. This overrepresentation of Latina women perpetuate society’s negative views on these women of color but sadly also reflect the reality of women in this type of service work. These gender minorities’ are stigmatized and often these women of color end up believing that they aren’t worth more than what they get. Unemployment rates are also high and their opportunities for advancement are limited due to the racist perceptions of the majority-standing counterparts. Not to mention, the lack of proper education and guidance in these communities further deepen the gap between them and privileged upper class folks because they are not equipped with the necessary tools to be able to elevate into a better job or position.

All these negative factors and emotional issues that arise from being a gendered minority in America were showcased and explained in the film, Ovarian Psycos. The founder of this feminist sisterhood community, Xela de la X, a single mother, artist, activist and a survivor of sexual abuse shed light on the struggle of being a young urban Latina. We were introduced and followed the story of a young Latina who had just graduated high school and was working in order to help her single mother and siblings. She found refuge in this feminist community bicycle riding group who taught her the power of using her voice and standing up against racial, sexual and violent mistreatment of Latina women in the community.

Xela explained how her own mother became brainwashed by the patriarchal standards of what a young girl was allowed and not allowed to do. She told the story of how as a young girl she was not allowed to play outside or go over her friends’ house like her brothers were allowed to do just because she was a girl, she was kept inside instead and expected to do household chores. Xela’s mother is a prime example of the internalization of gender oppression and how the feeling powerless as a Latina woman perpetuates patriarchal expectations. The emotional trauma Xela experienced after being sexually abused by her father and the lack of support from her mother left her with emotional scars women of color across the country could relate to. The fear of not being able to not outgrow those emotional pains and depression, haunts Xela because she wants to offer wiser and more emotional support to her own daughter. Xela yearns to break that continuous cycle so that her daughter does not become overpowered by patriarchal expectations. Another important issues discussed was the way white women contributed to women of color’s oppression by failing to recognize their white privilege.

Some White women can be subject to join the oppressor under the pretense of sharing power. This possibility does not exist in the same way for women of color because despite their gender, they are still an inferior race as deemed by white patriarchal society. White women might face gender discrimination in the workplace or in their interactions with members of society but women of color increasingly experience violence in their everyday lives which adds an extra layer of intensity when it is further perpetuated by their own gender. Some women identify with the White patriarchy because it provides a level of power that is exclusively available for white women. Although, we could not deny there being instances of violence within white communities, the amount and level of violence is much higher and more severe among minorities.

An interesting point that was made by Lorena Garcia, in her article about sexual respectability and peers was how race and ethnicity mattered for how different groups of girls were judged in society. There is this stigma that Latina women become young mothers due their failure of sexual irresponsibility because of their ethnic identity. As seen in society and the media’s representation of Latina and Black women, women of color are portrayed as being these hypersexualized individuals while a white women’s promiscuity is overlooked. According to Garcia and the young Latina girls whom she interviewed their perception of young white girls were that they were are not scrutinized or pathologized for their sexual behavior because of their white privilege. As a result, the young Latinas vowed to be sexually responsible so that they were not perceived as “hos like the white girls.” It’s interesting to see how white privilege in this instance allows for the sexual liberation of white woman to be acceptable but when a Latina is proud of her promiscuity, it has a negative outlook. This form of gender racism is on a much less intense level but regardless it is another form of racial microaggressions that women of color endure.

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Discrimination Against Women of Color. (2022, May 15). Retrieved from


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