Tuesday, January 24, 2017

BLACK AND BROWN WOMEN CONFLICTED ON THE WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON


I just watched Senator Kamala Harris' speech during the Women's March On Washington get cut off mid-sentence in favor of interviewing everyday white female citizens on the street. That irritated me. And it reminded me that more than a few women of color have expressed feeling less than enthusiastic about the Women's March On Washington.

It would be easy to assume that black and brown women are just tired of white women claiming to want intersectionality when plans go south (Hillary Clinton losing to The Deranged Cheeto) It would be easy to respond to these black and brown women by saying, "Okay. More important things are at stake now. Let's put aside our differences and move forward."

But the thing that's easy to see from where I sit is that a bunch of black women already did that. Black and brown women already put aside some major bullsh** and ignored white supremacy in order to move forward. Somewhere between 93% to 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton

Black women voted for Hillary Clinton despite "Super Predator" comment, despite Bill Clinton's caving into republican "law and order" chanting in the 90s that put thousands upon thousands of black people in jail forever for damn near nothing -- like marijuana possession that whites go to rehab for instead. Meanwhile, a bunch of white people couldn't put aside the Clinton Team's authentic disrespect for Bernie Sanders during the Democratic Convention; and they probably voted Jill Stein out of revenge which sent Mean Tangerine to his coronation.

On social media, I saw some seriously nasty little debates going on among black women. Some may have become so frustrated they didn't vote. 


Too many young black women did not understand that there are differing levels of white supremacy. They also did not understand how much bigger a threat Cheeto Satan is -- and not just based on ethnoracism and misogyny either.

But as little as SOME young black women understand the differing levels of white supremacy, the vast majority of white women have no understanding at all. This is why white racism does not pop up on white female radar as "our collective problem" as opposed to "I feel sorry for black and brown women. We need to listen to THEIR problems."


It amazes me that white women wanted to go to March on Washington to speak truth to power instead of speaking truth of lack-of-solidarity to one another. 



  • 57% of white voters voted for Trump.
  • 53% of white women voted for Trump
  • White people are the only ones in denial that "white voters" represent the white adult population. 


It would made sense for Black and Brown women to LEAD a March on Washington, inviting all women to follow, including white women. We black women battled, argued, and snarled at one another, pulled ourselves together and mostly voted Hillary Clinton -- 93 to 94%.

And it would have made more sense for white women to talk to each other before they opened their mouths at ANY SINGLE BODY ELSE. 



This is probably why the white feminist led March On Washington confused me from the beginning.

While doing some research on the true motivations behind this March, I've come to realize that there are a bunch of people claiming that the majority of women in this country are feminist.


Well you know what? I don't agree...very much.

I know most of the black women getting anything accomplished in high profile places are feminists. I assume that's true for other demographics too. But I'm pretty sure the vast majority of women who are just average citizens are not -- despite some of the polls.

Things are changing too rapidly in pop culture to figure out who is who



In 2010 or so Michelle Obama avoided calling herself a "feminist" when asked, likely in order to protect her husband from vitriol. (Googling "feminist" would get you nothing but nasty memes then) By 2016, things had changed. Barack Obama came right out and said they were feminists, that he was raising his children as a feminist father. 
Furthermore, some of the feminists walking around these days only started calling themselves "feminists" after they found out Beyonce or Taylor Swift decided to identify themselves "feminists."

I explain all this to say that some of these new feminist women haven't even read the shortest pamphlet (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's) or book (bell hooks) on feminism. It's a fad for them.


For white women who think other white women voting for Trump is a problem, this means a bunch of white women calling themselves "feminists" are perfectly capable of voting for Donald Trump -- because subtler forms of white supremacy, homophobia, islamophobia mean nothing to some of these new and old white feminists.

In other words, a little intersectionality could have saved white women from themselves in the 2016 election.

If racism, homophobia, islamophobia were seen
by white feminists as attached and intermixed with 

issues of sexism and misogyny 
then maybe white feminists 
would have something to talk about 
aside from reproductive rights 
when talking to non-feminist white women 
about the fact that 
Cheeto Satan is indeed one of Satan's minions.


I mean what would it look like if a white feminist could actually say it and mean it when she said to a non-feminist white woman, "I may not agree that abortion is murder, but let's say I agree abortion ends life. Racism and forcing a permanent underclass murders and kills too and probably at a higher rate of speed."  

What would it look like if white women saw sexism as one facet of one diamond named bigotry, where racism, homophobia, islamophobia were the other facets of the same diamond? Wouldn't white feminist know the name of Yvette Smith, who called police about an altercation and wound up being shot by police herself as she opened the door by an ON DUTY white policeman carrying his own AR-15 instead of his service weapon?   
What would it look like if white feminists raised Yvette Smith's story along side black and latina feminist websites?  
Would Smith's story have become high profile enough to get national attention.....high profile enough to put her Yvette's murderer on trial instead of just letting him be set free by same judge involved in the Sandra Bland case?
   
White women really don't have any ground to stand on to demand women of color show up in solidarity. But more important than that, to white women, is that showing up for black and brown women is probably the path to saving themselves.

It's weird to say it this way, but white feminists have to get out of the white bubble where they assume what is central to white feminists is central to all feminists -- in order to talk to the 53% of white women that voted for Trump. If white feminists can't break free of their own bubble they won't be able to talk to the 53% of white women that voted for Trump who are in a slightly different white bubble. 


That is, white feminists should practice putting race and racism nearer the center of their feminist concerns. Once white feminists do that maybe the practice of looking outside the white-feminist-only bubble can enable them to talk to the 53% (non-feminists or ill informed feminists) about some sort of compromise on religious beliefs and abortion, for example.

White feminists have to be able to compromise 

and engage white women 
who aren't feminists 
or 
think they aren't feminists 
because
they believe in the stereotypical definition of feminism
rather than
an authentic definition of feminism


Example: I know women who are atheists who DO want abortion to stay legal, who absolutely do not believe in abortion as a form of birth control. Some of them may have voted for Trump if they are single issue voters.  

If some feminists, especially white feminists could stop
screaming "It's my body... It's my body.... It's my body"
maybe they could also stop and listen.
Maybe they could look at their own children
and realize they would NOT have had
baby John or baby Jane later
if they'd had an abortion when John or Jane was conceived;
John or Jane would not be here if they'd put off having children
James or Juliette would be here instead.

  • Abortion may not be murder (in my opinion) but it does end a life. 
  • The science of that is not debatable in any way.  
  • How each woman decides to think about that is debatable and should be respected in conversation. 
Black feminists may snarl at each other over things like abortion, but we still came together to vote our common self-interest.....to keep a racist, misogynist, homophobic, transphobic islamophobe out of office. We live at the intersection. That is the basis of our solidarity despite disagreement. 

 We, women of color as a group and especially black women, absolutely did not love Hillary. We, as black women, voted against Trump whether feminist or non-feminist, pro-abortion and anti-abortion.  

White women need to figure out how to achieve this kind of solidarity before they go speaking truth to power in Washington.

Again, I think the key for white women (white feminists) is being able to see things from more than one perspective. Women of color (black, brown, asian) don't always see eye to eye on everything But we are often able to come together and achieve differing levels of solidarity on various issues when white women clearly can't.


Frankly, white feminists probably need to look to black feminists for leadership at this time.  Because there are still tons of black women that hate "feminism" thinking it's a white thing. Yet, we still come together to keep Don The Con out of Washington. 

Even if white feminists cannot bring themselves to look at black women in order to try to reproduce what black women achieved in the 2018 and 2020 elections, white feminists need to find a way to get non-feminist white women on the right side of history. That needs to be priority number one.

The first mental step that white feminists need to take in that direction is to realize that white women benefit from patriarchal white supremacy (and ignoring the subtler forms) more than any other group except white men themselves. 

Or, white feminists can just keep taking national polls where they ask "Are you a feminist?" see the results come in as "feminist majority" and be surprised when Donald Trump wins again.