Dear Liberal White Women,
Today, we find ourselves at the familiar intersection of change and privilege. We have been here many times and each time you have chosen the path of privilege. You are willing to throw women of color under the bus, to ignore our community needs, and reinforce the power structures of a society geared at your white fathers, husbands, and sons.
History repeats itself over and over as some of your famed feminists have chosen to advance YOUR causes by separating from the problems of us brown folks. At times, Susan B. Anthony to Gloria Steinman has all divorced their feminist calls for change from the calls of people of color. When you were fighting for the right to go to work many women of color were working in your homes. Instead of fighting for the rights of women to choose their path you focused on you. You have not thought about race because you did not have to.
That is where the problem lies. White women will always choose privilege, comfort, and power over fighting for us all!! As long as racial oppression exist our issues will never be the same. Yet, you refuse to acknowledge your role in our oppression. This familiar intersection shows us OUR OPPRESSION BENEFITS YOU AS A WHITE PERSON. When white women got the right to vote they abandoned black women in the Jim Crow South. Historically, you have always seen the value of being white and you always choose the path that leaves us behind if it advances your cause.
Today, we claim to focus on Intersectional Feminism. We are recognizing women of color who can not separate their racial oppression and fight solely for the causes of women. This radical feminism requires that women of color are central to equality work. Sadly, not surprisingly, we find ourselves at our familiar crossroad of truth. Liberal white women face the same choice as their predecessors, and they continue to undermine intersectionality by prioritizing white power and privilege every day.
Consider the co-opting of the kneeling protest. The kneeling protest is strictly about BLM. A cause many liberal whites have avoided or felt uncomfortable about since it started on the field. All over social media, after the disgraceful Kavanaugh vote, liberal white women called for us to kneel to protest the injustices against women. This is privilege at play. Whites stealing the ideas and symbolic gestures of people of color to use as their own. This is the intersection and those white liberals prioritizing their own pain and trying to hijack the energy and the visibility of the BLM movement is an example of liberal racism.
The truth is liberal white women say they care about Black lives but they do not care enough to sacrifice the comfort and privilege they get from being close in orbit to white men. When faced with issues of race and racism many liberal white women attack women of color or shift blame to white supremacist or conservatives. Any Pantsuit Nation post about race is immediately attacked by whites trying to defend their own personal goodness or discredit the writer. You do not want to look in the mirror and see that your complicity perpetuates the oppression of women of color.
The harsh reality is that you, yes you, liberal white women, play a vital role in perpetuating racism. The only way to undo this truth is to face it and choose the path to change. You must follow the lead of women of color. You must give up your seat and voice to them more often than not. You must talk to other white women about how they handed Donald Trump the election and the nomination. You have an obligation to address racism within your own community. You have an obligation to educate yourself and those around you. You have to be willing to put your body and your relationships on the line for people of color. Show up to BLM protest. Seek out books about race relations. Donate to communities of color causes and groups. Use your privilege and resources to help women of color by doing what they ask of you and no more.
White women are you willing to self-reflect on your stake in the power structures? Are you willing to give up your power and privilege as a white person? Is your whiteness STILL MORE important than your womanhood? Are you still more important than me?
A Black Feminist
Co-Founder of Dimensions of Isms
Kenyona “Sunny” Matthews is a motivational speaker focusing on issues of diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism. She is a University of Akron School of Law graduate who focused civil liberties. She earned her bachelors from Guilford College majoring in Political Science, Philosophy, and African American Studies. She was an active college student helping to start an Anti-Racism team at Guilford College, responsible for organizing city-wide diversity/inclusion events, and developed coursework focusing on race and racism.