In Fall 2010, a group of women of color from all different backgrounds convened in the basement of the Campus Center. We connected and discussed about our experiences as working class/low-income and women of color on Smith campus. Through our daily conversations and meetings, we soon learned that we shared similar struggles being here at Smith, from hardly feeling like we belong in one of the most prided tradition (house communities) to being a person of color in a predominantly white institution. For some time, the space became critical to share our experiences, connect with each other, and heal – heal from the everyday violence faced in houses, classrooms, dining halls and campus as working class/low-income students and women of color. On campus, violence came in coded language around race and class, subtle actions reminding who belongs here and who does not, and many more. During this moment, it was one of first times we connected across color lines and began to see how systems of oppression shaped our experiences in this privileged and exclusive space.
From the discussions, we decided to form a group as women of color organizers for racial justice. We created a charter for this prospective organization but eventually realized that what we envisioned was much larger than a single entity within the confines of an elite institution. As we began to organize, we connected with Students for Social Justice and Institutional Change (SSJIC) and Smith Association for Class Activists (SACA). Our vision expanded even further. We understood that racial justice also meant economic justice. It was not enough that women of color were fighting for racial justice; white students also needed to be part of this organizing. We realized that we must organize from an intersectional standpoint where we understand that our struggles are interconnected. As we began to grow, learn and develop a more critical consciousness, we realized that the space we were trying to create was not just for women of color but ultimately for those who believed in organizing for anti-oppression across color and class lines. We soon adopted the name Weaving Voices, rooted from the idea that we must use the power of narratives and our lived experiences to build community.
Meeting during dinner at Cutter’s beau parlor, we brainstormed many different ideas and two important projects came out of it. One was a frequent open mic that would create a critical space for sharing narratives, raising consciousness and building community. Another was an archives project where we would teach ourselves about the history of anti-oppression work at Smith. Ever since then, WV as a social project has been a critical force in bridging communities and building memories for the collective.