Featuring Camille Hayes
Camille Hayes is an editor, writer, and social change advocate. Her writing has been featured on The Good Men Project, Bitch Magazine and the Ms. magazine blog, among other publications. She’s a former newspaper columnist, and maintained the feminist blog Lady Troubles from 2011-2014. Camille holds a bachelor of science in psychology and a master of arts in English. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and her poodle.
We had the chance to interview author Camille Hayes, whose essay “Klansville, USA” appears in All the Women in My Family Sing. This is what we learned…
What inspired you to write your essay for this anthology?
There are a lot of stories about race and racism that focus on interpersonal conflicts—on the pain people inflict on one another as a result of racism. My experience of racism was very place-based; my conflict was with a location, the South, as much as it was with any of the people who hurt or marginalized me over the years. I was a multiracial child from a California family who spent most of her childhood in North Carolina, which meant I was geographically dislocated twice over. First, my family wasn’t from the South, and so we were outsiders based on literal geography. Then of course, people of African ancestry have always been dispossessed in this country; we are considered outsiders, not “real Americans,” even if we are born and raised here. I wanted to try to tell a story about the geography of racism.
What is one of the most memorable challenges you have experienced as a woman of color in the twenty-first century?
The fact that people are still asking questions like this is an answer in itself.
Give an example of women’s roles in today's social justice movement.
I used to work in domestic violence advocacy, which is a movement founded and still led by women, and which works primarily on behalf of women survivors of violence. The women of this movement brought about major cultural shifts over the course of about four decades, and changed public policy and law enforcement in this country for the better.
What have your experiences been in leadership as a woman of color?
Working in domestic violence gave me an opportunity to take some leadership roles in policy initiatives and public information campaigns. Back in 2009, I helped lead the effort to restore state funding to domestic violence shelters, which had been eliminated by then-Governor Schwarzenegger.
What do you most hope readers will take away from reading this book?
That there are many ways to experience, talk about, and embody stories of race and culture, even within the same ethnic group, and all of those ways are valid. The story of race in America is too multifarious and complex to be accounted for by a single narrative. The most any one of us can hope to do is weave a tiny thread into the tapestry.