Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch
Ok, so… We’re going to have an Intersectionality 101 course here today. Got it? Good.
So, Mikki Kendall started the #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen hashtag on Twitter in response to Hugo Schwyzer’s very public meltdown on Twitter. Basically, she and other Women of Color used it to call out the white mainstream feminists who had supported Schwyzer in the past, some of whom kept doing it all through his public admissions that he’s a fraud. This is all in spite of a history of bullying and blacklisting WOC in the feminist community. (Flavia Dzodan has a fantastic takedown, in part because she was one of the WOC he targeted.)
However, what the hashtag has become is a place where WOC are doing the educating so many white feminists keep saying they want, and keep ignoring. It’s expanded far beyond calling out outlets like Jezebel, who gave the shitstain a wider audience, to calling out mainstream white feminism for it’s glaring fucking racism problem.* It’s giving a lie to feminist solidarity, or rather pointing out that it more often than not doesn’t include WOC.
Now the learning part.
I have a seen a number of white feminists get pissy and whiny over this hashtag, and I’m about to tell you a secret. A couple of them, actually.
A. What you are feeling is nothing compared to the daily bombardment of negative images, connotations, microagressions and all the bullshit POC endure every day of their lives. Yes, as women we catch a certain amount of shit, quite a lot of it even. However, those of us who are white don’t get the added “bonus” of racially motivated hate and slurs. So, if you think it’s oppressive as fuck to be a white woman in this society, just imagine how much more shit women of color have to deal with.
B. If you managed to be the most inclusive of inclusive feminists and have truly managed not to fall into any of the usual traps white feminism falls into, then guess what? If it isn’t about you, it isn’t about you. If you aren’t minimizing and marginalizing POC, and ignoring the words of WOC, then they aren’t talking about you.
But I’m going to guess, having gone through this myself in relation to learning about racism and intersectionality, that what’s really rankling you and raising your hackles is the fact that you suspect you ARE in fact who WOC are talking about with this hashtag, and that scares you. And frightened people often get angry, but instead of directing that anger inward at your unconscious racism, you direct outward at the messenger who told you you had it. You desperately don’t want to be a bad guy, and you probably aren’t doing it consciously.
But not doing consciously does not, in fact, mean that you aren’t doing it.
Let me repeat that, rephrased a bit: While you may not be consciously marginalizing or minimizing the work of WOC feminists/womanists, or consciously deciding to ignore them, this does not mean that you are not in all actuality doing just that.
That’s the really awful thing about institutionalized racism, it’s fucking pervasive. It’s everywhere. You’re soaking in it, just like misogyny.
A number of white feminists have tweeted in response to the hashtag that they are sitting down and shutting up and just listening. Let’s hope it sticks. I’ve mostly just been retweeting the shit out of it when I’m on Twitter, mostly from the @GeekGirlsRule account, since that’s my default. Nice white, upper middle class ladies have had the mike long enough, let someone else talk for a change.
*I’ve talked about mainstream feminism’s class problem before.
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Perhaps because I grew up in a household where civil rights were considered extremely important, I have no problem with understanding that I possess white privilege. I don’t understand why people get so defensive when told they have white privilege, male privilege, thin privilege, etc. All it requires is stopping for a minute and thinking about it. Think about the stop-and-frisk brutality in NYC. Think about your unarmed brother being shot and killed by the police. Think about what might happen if you were stopped for a minor traffic offense. THINK!!!!!