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To white feminists who say that I say nothing

To white feminists who say that I say nothing,

White women who wish for their feminist views to be recognized need realize that those supposed universal ideologies regarding equality are not actually universal and that they have not only failed to aid their Black female counterparts, who they should consider their sisters, but they have illegitimized their struggles. You have rendered their plight obsolete. Your movement does not effectively meet the objectives of every group of oppressed women. In fact, it directly has a negative effect on the Black feminist movement. The issue of gender, and its subsequent oppression of women, creates the basis for feminist theory which seeks to shift the typically male lens of human experience to a female one. By doing so, it implicitly seeks to depict the female experience in it's entirety, as “woman” is not a racially, culturally, religiously nor sexually associated term. But the reality is that race and cultural do define what it means to be a woman. Feminist theory, however, is not representative of all women—a fact that the likes of Sheryl Sandberg and Betty Friedan would have never conferred.

No one can speak for all women by only referencing women belonging to one race and class. White feminism is fueled by ignorance, and while it is not ignorance derived from malice it becomes malicious when it not only ignores the agenda of other disenfranchised women but makes their agendas non-existent. The discord between the privileged, white woman can not act as the basis for all women’s struggles. In the opinions of Black, feminist/womanist scholars such as bell hooks and Audre Lorde, white feminists further facilitate the “imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy” by creating a feminist movement that does not attack the issues and concerns of Black women, drawing a chasm between “white” and “Black” feminism and ultimately worsening the plight of the Black woman.

When we scroll our dashboards and find all white models in polaroid Tumblr-shoots that claim to depict “Girl Power,” us Black women recognize that you have further perpetuated bullshit stereotypes that could have been easily debunked by diversifying. While your prerogative is not to imply that only white women can be powerful, by neglecting to include Black women you have also neglected to account for the abolition of the “angry Black woman.” Your lack of statement has indeed made the statement that only white women can be brazen and independent. In the words of Audre Lorde, to not allow for Black representation in feminism "is to assume Black women have nothing to say."

In The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House, Lorde discusses her last minute invitation to speak in a conference at the New York University Institute for the Humanities on the differences in the lives of women. Although she agreed to be a part, she used her time to address concerns of intersectionality, whereas the white feminists who invited her preferred to address difference as individual plights. “Doing difference,” as sociologists have coined the phenomena, only recognizes class, gender, race in small day-to-day interaction and how each specific difference affects the entire interaction. So then “What does it mean in personal and political terms when even the two Black women who did present here were literally found at the last hour? What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow perimeters of change are possible and allowable," (Audre Lorde). These narrow minded ideas of feminism follow us onto Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram, where the Black woman is again the last thought. We are invited to the party at the last hour because our differences are at least an hour’s notice important.

If you’re white and rich, you are largely unable to recognize the extent to which these class and racial boundaries interlock. This idea is expressed in the new trend to self-declare “girl gangs,” a concept which is misguided and insensitive. If you considered for one moment the lives of women who aren’t middle-class, white and unaware (or at the least took the time to include them in your insta pics), who live in the hood, you’d know that girl gangs do not symbolize being tough, cool and edgy; that Black girls are “fucked” into gangs and thus coin slang like gang raping. Gangs plague city streets with death and crack dealings and make it difficult for little Black girls to walk home at night. Your use of the term for the shallow sake of appearing edgy has insulted those who are directly affected by the implications of the urban gangs to which your term refers. You need to realize that it is only in the power of the privileged to glorify something that oppresses an entire group of people.

In only battling the oppression of the women that you care about, you have oppressed other women and have done no better than your oppressive male comrades. Recognition of the systems of inequality as they work together to oppress all women is the next step to allow feminine theory to achieve the universality that it already claims to have.

Breeze, a woman and a womanist


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