I am unable to keep up. However, I have been getting emails asking when my next post will be up, so I will try.
I have a feminist friend who is White, who comes from an affluent White section of town and works in academia, with her White colleagues who teach kids from different backgrounds.
Up until this election, she was blissfully unaware of the extra burdens placed on the shoulders of women of color.
How do I know? She admitted it. One day it dawned on her. She ranted on Facebook “I finally realize what privilege my White skin gives me and I am disgusted.”
The wool was eventually pulled off of her eyes, and she became “woke”-aware of what is actually going on for the rest of us. It reminded me of something I have always known, and felt in professional settings, that although women are still fighting for equality, women of color, are at the very bottom of the women totem pole.
I can appreciate her finally realizing her privilege and owning it. It still is not enough.
Okay, you’re woke… Now what?
Remember, Solidarity is for White women hashtag? It’s ironic because the first time I heard someone say “Solidarity is for White women” it came from the mouth of the white feminist that this post is partially based off. She had mentioned it in passing as a joke that she heard from her other White colleague. The hashtag stemmed from White feminist dismissing women of color for a narrative of solidarity that centers itself on the safety and comfort of White women. It is not a new issue in feminism. White feminists have long argued that gender should trump race, but the fact is: when you whitewash the issue of equality, it paints over the experiences of women of color.
I googled where the phrase “Solidarity is for White Women” came from and discovered that its creator was a woman named Mikki Kendall, a writer, diversity consultant and self-proclaimed occasional feminist.
I reached out to her via Twitter, and she gave me her email address. I wrote her and asked her if she felt that her message got across and what does she think White women should do if they feel they have fallen into the category of non-inclusive feminism.
She wrote me back with these words:
“I think the message got across to some white women. The ones who were most likely to be willing to give up some privilege & who had the self-awareness to interrogate their own role in oppressive structures. I think that those who feel like they aren’t coming from a place of being inclusive should start doing some work on why that is. What are they reading? Who are their friends? What causes are they drawn to & can they help those with less privilege? Doing the work isn’t a single day or a single decision. It’s a commitment that spans a lot of spaces in anyone’s life. We all have our biases, it’s really a question of whether we let them guide our decisions or if we choose to confront and dismantle them.”
She was right. If you are woke, we need more from you than your Facebook rants. As far as equality goes, it has to be all the voices being heard to get the point across, that includes all women, regardless of skin color. The battles women of color and White women may fight in any setting may be different, but we are all fighting the same war.
And if that last sentence made you roll your eyes a bit, then maybe you are not as woke as you think you are. If you didn’t roll your eyes maybe the message is getting across, so this last part of this post is not for you. If you did roll your eyes I would leave you with this prime example of the difference: think of the tee shirt line that was started by two frustrated White women after Trump got elected as president. They were shocked at the fact that the majority of White women voted for Trump. They decided to make tee shirts that said Not this White woman. They felt like they wanted to let everyone know it was not their fault he got put in office. But in reality, the frustration they were feeling, in my opinion, may be the closest they ever got to feeling how we feel every day. When walking into a new job, we automatically know we will be getting pre-judged purely on how we look, by men and women. See the difference?