To be frank, white feminism is easy to encounter in the Gender and Women’s studies department. Even with smart, resilient, funny, and headstrong women of color from all walks of life; there still are issues that only we are speaking up about. These issues almost always focus on race and the many injustices that people of color face on a daily basis. I don’t think it started to affect me until the tragic death of Trayvon Martin occurred and I looked to my fellow “feminists” to be hurting along side with me, and no white woman was next to me. It was my sisters of color that were upset like I was. At the time I had a white young woman as a roommate and when I asked her for some feedback on the case, she shared that she honestly hadn’t even heard about it to the extent which I knew about it. It was as if she accepted that I cared about the innocent boy’s life because he was a young black man and that is just what was expected of me but not of her.
What really gets me thinking is how white feminism still exists in this day and age. When all of the social justice issues that we speak about and become activists for have intersections with race, gender, class, sexuality etc. In the GWS department, there is even a class on fem theory that is required for majors and minors; where we discuss at length the topic of intersectionality and how crucial it is to feminism.
We speak a lot about solidarity when it comes to those who are survivors of sexual assault and I, by no means, am mocking the pain that I don’t know, but where is the solidarity when it comes to racial tensions around the world? You don’t have to be gay to empathize and speak up about gay rights. I am not a transgender woman, but I will do my best to make sure I am an ally in the transgender fight. So why can’t I, as a black woman, get that same support from my fellow white sisters, my fellow Indian sisters or Chinese sisters?
Our country is hurting! I am hurting as a proud woman of color, who also happens to be a feminist. I usually don’t get upset with people of other races for their ignorance cause hey, some peoples parents just did not raise them to be conscientious. But I just can’t tolerate a phony feminist, I hold that word too highly for someone to misuse it and make it into something that it’s not. A true feminist cares, supports and fights for what is right for ALL women, the marginalized and the non-marginalized, the ones who have green cards and the ones who are born citizens of this country, the ones whose skin burn easy in the sun and the ones who are full of melanin.
When I chose the title of feminist, I found my voice and it allowed me to use my voice even when it was shaking. Our voices are powerful but they are not as powerful if we are selfish and only speak for those that look like us or whose struggles are similar.
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” - Desmond Tutu