Dear White Feminists
You’re smart people. I appreciate you. I’m glad you’re attempting to fight the good fight. But, for the love of all that is holy:
CHECK. YOUR. PRIVILEGE.
Acknowledge that as a white person, you have A LOT of it. Race will always be just a “race issue” to you that you can - and do, on WAY TOO MANY occasions - ignore on a daily basis. For women of color and for ALL people of color, race is not an issue; it is our constant state of being. Women of color are oppressed daily, hourly, by the minute because of it. Being told we must fit a certain stereotype, being told we are inferior, being shown that we are not fit to be seen by the masses on TV and in movies, being fetishized and marginalized and beaten and killed because of who we are.
I refuse to just be a woman for the sake of the feminist movement because I am not just a woman. I am a woman of color. I will not put being just a woman first and foremost above everything else that I am. I refuse to put my race aside because women as a whole have “bigger problems to deal with.” I will not shut up about the lack of racial diversity in The Hunger Games, Girls, and all the other TV shows and movies and books out there that erase me just because you like them. I will not stop including race in the discussion of gender based violence and sexual violence against women of color because race deserves to be included in that dialogue. My identity is intersectional and my feminism is intersectional. If yours is not, it is bullshit. White feminists are not exempt from criticism.
When women of color talk about racism- real oppression with real consequences and feelings attached to them, and you feel the need to raise your hand and tell us about how we’re making a big deal out of nothing, here is what you need to do:
1. Put your hand down.
2. Shut up.
Because you will never know or understand what being a woman of color feels like. We are slowly dying from a thousand little papercuts from people who are supposed to be on our team. We have to hear things like “Why are you being so sensitive?” “This isn’t a race issue.” “Making a big deal about racial diversity self sabotages the entire feminist movement.” You know what self sabotages the movement? Refusing to include or even ACKNOWLEDGE the struggles of women of color. Refusing to prioritize us alongside you at the forefront of the movement. You treat us the way that patriarchy treats you, and you are trying my patience.
With friends like you, we don’t need enemies.
But, it doesn’t have to be this way. Listen to us, learn from us, acknowledge our existence. Pick up a book. Follow a blog. Stop being an asshole. Don’t shout us down when we talk about our oppression. Quit trying to equate white women’s struggles with WOC struggles because they are not and never will be the same. Understand that this movement is not solely about you. It is equally about us. Our arguments and experiences are just as real and valid as yours.
White women do not get to be put first. White women are not the default omni-feminist representatives for all women. Progress for white women alone is not progress for the entire movement. It is not “a step in the right direction.” It is a step forward for you and a step backward for us.
And, while we’re on the topic of intersectionality, when it comes to other “issues” that don’t apply to you including but not limited to ableism, heterosexism, cissexism, and sizeism?
Same shit goes- put your hand down, shut up, and listen.
All oppressed people have things to say and you do not get to dominate the floor.