Black women have been historically excluded from every operation toward equality, including feminism. White feminism is the fight for women’s equality concerning only issues white women face and ignoring those women of color do. The solution is simple: if you want to fight for women’s rights, you must mean ALL women.
The issue of white feminism stems back to when the women’s suffrage movement was in its blueprint stage. As leaders like Lucy Stone and Susan B. Anthony led the way toward women’s rights, Ida B. Wells and Sojourner Truth fought on their own to be heard. When they tried to participate, black and brown women were dismissed, silenced and ordered to march in the back of line.
Fighting for equal pay across sexes but not races or failing to consider racism in addition to women’s rights are traits of the privileged white feminist. She has the comfort not to worry about police brutality or birth mortality because both doctors and policemen believe she is honest and genuine.
A white woman’s struggles are validated by sexism and its aim to keep women out of places of power and in the kitchen. Though, in comparison to the struggles intersecting with racism, women of color suffer much worse.
White women and black women experience similar battles regarding surface level sexism. Women of color experience sexism on top of prejudice and racial discrimination. Feminism goes beyond closing the wage gap. The areas of society oppressing women of color need acknowledgement.
So, how does one unlearn white feminism? The first thing to do is realize what you’re not doing.
When your sisters of color bring attention to themselves, listen. Do not deflect by bringing attention to the issues you face “as a woman.” Do not compare your own experiences to theirs. Allow them to claim the space to express themselves. Your struggles are not the same.
Examine Your Own Prejudice
Don’t judge a woman of color based on her appearance, background or maybe the way she spoke. No matter the color, women are deserving of rights. However, institutional racism created system to where they aren’t even deserving of attention.
Stand with Them
Avoid diluting their anger. To be passionate about equality is to be passionate about the equality ALL women deserve. Learn about the issues facing black and brown women and support their fight.
The fight for women’s rights cannot be one-sided. You cannot claim diversity without equity and inclusion.
No permission needed