Walker brought her opinions and views about feminism to
life Sunday through readings and discussions as part of
the 25th Anniversary Celebration of Women's Studies at USF.
daughter of author Alice Walker, addressed an audience of
about 200 people in the USF Embassy Suites Hotel.
focus of Walker's presentation was the creation of the Third
Wave, an organization Walker began in 1992 after she
graduated from college. The Third Wave is a New York-based
group composed of activists in their 20s.
said the atmosphere she graduated into led her to organize
the Third Wave.
I graduated in 1992, I was graduating into a political climate
that was very frightening," she said. "I
graduated in a time when the George Bush administration
was really launching a full attack on reproductive freedom.
The Rodney King verdict had come down. The (Los Angeles)
rebellion had blazed across the country. The Clarence Thomas-Anita
Hill hearings were going on. When I graduated, there was
a real feeling that we were coming of age into the work
force at a time that was very scary. And what my colleagues
and I, and my friends and I realized, that existing organizations
like NOW and the NAACP, while doing great work, were not
making the generational connection. So, we decided to start
the organization Third Wave."
said Third Wave was designed to be able to deal with reproductive
issues, racism, police brutality and a variety of different
issues that will be multiracial and multicultural.
envisioned that it is a kind of bridge between the older
women and the younger men and women we saw coming up who
really wanted to contribute to political discourse, but
who, for a variety of different reasons, didn't feel comfortable
the Third Wave has had a major shift in focus, according
to Walker. From 1992 to 1996, the organization concentrated
mostly on direct action projects. However, the group soon
found that much money for such things was difficult to come
by. So organizers developed a fundraising arm, which gives
back to women in four different ways: an abortion fund,
which pays for women to have an abortion; a business fund,
which give $1,000 to $3,000 to women starting businesses;
an education fund, which gives $1,000 to $3,000 toward educational
goals; and a general grant program, which supports projects.
topic Walker discussed in her speech was her book, "To
be Real," a collection of writings by young men and
said the book consists of a diverse group of people. She
said it combines men and women, heterosexuals and homosexuals,
whites and blacks. She said she wanted to create a book
that allowed everybody to make a contributions.
reason I did the book was to make space for people,"
allows people to come in with all their warts and problems."
a portion of the speech, Walker read from the book, touching
on issues such violence, sexuality and hip-hop culture
said one of the things she found most interesting about
editing the book was that some of the people she talked
to were forced to deal with their own ideas of feminism.
I found fascinating about doing this book and talking to
so many men and women about feminism was that each of the
writers described their struggle with feminism as themselves
coming up against their own perception of what it was,"
she said. "Every single person I talked to for the
book had their own issue with it, whether that be a real
issue or a perceived issue."
is working on two more books, an autobiographical memoir
and an anthology on bisexuality.
the readings were finished, Walker stepped away from the
pulpit and opened up the room for discussion.
topic that came up was the societal system in which we live
and the place feminism has in that system.
said that women are an integral part of the system but at
the same time are trying to change the system.
think we're all a part of the system and working to change
the system at the same time," she said.
think that's one of the main differences between the second
wave and third wave. I think the second wave articulated
a real separation from the system, a real sense that if
you're not part of the solution, you're a part of the problem.
I think it was easily dichotomized in that way. They were
outside looking in, critiquing. I feel much more that there
is no outside. None of our hands are clean. Even if you
are blowing up the Pentagon or putting your $10 million
trust fund into starting a women's library, you still are
wearing clothes that have been dyed by or sewn by women
in Mexico making 30 cents an hour. I guess the way I deal
with the system is that I do my work and contribute my voice
and hope I affect this organism that we think of as the