I’ve been trying to fit into the unjust, unfair, inequitable, and exclusionary ELT world about 5 years since I moved to Japan.
I have stopped trying to fit in. What happened and why? The following figure can give you some idea. You can also go through the blogposts here. So, I no longer wish to be “included” and no longer let anyone “include” me as those who have the power to “include”, have also the power to exclude.
This blogpost by Maha Bali, Unpacking Terms Around Equity, Power and Privilege, and this lecture (Revolution Today) by Angela Davis were so eye-opening to me as I truly realized why “diversity” and “inclusion” are such problematic terms.
If we stand up against racism, we want much more than inclusion. Inclusion is not enough. Diversity is not enough, and as a matter of fact, we do not wish to be included in a racist society.
I remember that when I came to Japan, I was added to or encouraged to join ELT Facebook groups about gender equality/equity. Well, I did. I then turned the groups’ notifications off, and I told myself, I live in Japan and I have no gender issues anymore. So naive, huh?
I’m now acutely aware of the inequities imposed by the intersections of race, gender, skin color, physical appearance, nationality, and religion.
I even shifted my research focus from Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) —quite male-dominated area of research in ELT— to Social Justice Education and Equity Studies in Education (SESE).
I supported, joined, and got involved in feminist/equity/equality movements in ELT:
I also read about:
There was always a voice in the back of my head telling me that something is missing: A sense of belonging. A sense of representation.
I believe the reason is that the issues related to Women of Color in ELT, whose struggles are way different, are often ignored, and issues related to race are often swept under the rug.
For example, a database of women ELT speakers
- cannot help women who have visa issues (e.g., read my visa story here, click here as well) and that is why we need to talk more about open access in ELT and support movements like Virtually Connecting.
- cannot help women who live in contexts where currency crisis is an issue and that is why we need to add class to the equation.
- cannot help women who find ELT conferences inhospitable and unsafe and that is why their needs should be addressed (e.g., how to navigate predominately white spaces in ELT).
I tried hard to communicate with these pictures.
I googled and started reading to connect and bridge the historical gaps in my mind.
For example, I found this:
So it wasn’t that I was boycotting the Rosie story. It simply had nothing to say to me.
That is why, inspired by Scholars of Color in Language Studies (SCiLS) and KOTESOL People of Color Teachers SIG, I have decided to start this movement in the hope of bringing Women of Color in ELT together so that we can support each other, learn together, and share our feelings that are constantly denied and invalidated by the dominant power structure in ELT:
I want Women of Color to stand together against racial erasure in ELT.
I want Women of Color’s intersecting complex identities to be represented in ELT.
I want Women of Color in ELT to belong.
Peace, radical love, and revolutionary hope,
You can read about WOC in ELT and its mission and goals at:
If you are a true ally and want to support this movement, please check WOC in ELT Supporters.