Here’s my beef with some white, female feminists
I was seriously considering doing a Facebook purge until I realized I’m too lazy for that. Because going on Facebook really angers me these days.
I went to an HBCU and most of my white friends, the ones I went to high school with, I only see on that social media. I saw them change their profile pics to a rainbow variety and post thoughtful paragraphs when gay marriage was legalized not too long ago. But when the Charleston Church Massacre happened? Sandra Bland? Eric Garner? Countless Others?
Crickets. That ain’t cool, man. I hear these same crickets, well literal silence rather, from white feminists on issues that solely affect women of color or that affect women of color disproportionately. And it baffles me.
How can some white feminists understand so well that there are certain issues men don’t have to face because of their gender, but can’t comprehend that there are certain issues white women don’t have to face because they’re not a black woman or other woman of color? Honestly, I don’t get how you can so easily process the former but not the latter when they are the same concept. Some white feminists even feel the nerve to attack black women for being womanists. Let’s not ignore the fact that some white feminists were racist in the 20th century. Or that the laws passed due to the feminist movement in America centered on white women. I mean, the Nineteenth Amendment still didn’t secure the right to vote for African-American women. Because why? They were black AND a woman.
The Nineteenth Amendment that prohibited a U.S. citizen from being denied the right to vote based on sex was passed in 1920. While the Voting Rights Act prohibiting racial discrimination in voting was passed in 1965. A time conundrum, no? I could have voted back in say 1937 because I’m a woman, right? No, no, no.
We have to deal with racism and sexism, and I argue a third basis of discrimination for where they intersect. I can’t choose between my skin color and gender. They always exist simultaneously. Hence, womanism. (Which if you’re a black feminist or feminist of color, you should already be.) But no, we should all join together and sing Kumbaya because we all have vaginas. We should be united against those oppressive men who rule the world. I mean, black women participated in the Women’s Suffrage March in Washington, DC, but the Nineteenth Amendment still didn’t stop black women from being beat up for trying to vote afterwards.
Black and Latina women get paid even less than white women for that dollar a white man makes. Please don’t see what you want to see.
I took a road trip last weekend with some (fellow black woman friends) to Myrtle Beach, SC in the heart of the Deep South. We were going to see a concert. Before I took off to pick up my friends, my mother pulled me aside.
“If you get stopped, just be nice and calm,” she said. “Agree with whatever he says so he can give you a ticket and let you be on your way.”
When I got to my friend’s house, her mother said the same thing: “Just be cordial. No attitude.” They weren’t reading the same script, just living the same black woman lives, worried about their daughters.
“Yeah, I know,” I said, “My mother told me the same thing.” Deep down I was sad that this conversation even needed to take place. I expressed this anger to my friends. “Why do they even need to say that to us?!”
I knew why. It’s similar to the talk black men give their sons should they interact with the police. Say, “Yes, sir.” Keep your hands in plain sight. Don’t give them any lip or attitude. White feminists, do your mothers warn you to be cordial and to be free of attitude if you get stopped by a white officer when on a road trip to a Southern beach? If not, what are you doing to ensure that black women don’t have to have those types of conversations with their daughters? To ensure that black women aren’t slammed to the ground or allegedly killed for having an attitude?
While as women we have many things in common, (like dealing with bonehead men), it’s a whole other shade of life to being a “minority” woman. We both get the “keep your eye on your drink so you don’t get drugged” talk, but not the “don’t give the officer any ‘tude” talk.