3 Things to Check Your White Feminist Friends On

While recently on the hunt for a co-working space, I reached out to one of my professional freelance friends for guidance on the best place to work with other progressive, entrepreneurial millennials

Photo: Unsplash/@liz_weddon

Photo: Unsplash/@liz_weddon

While recently on the hunt for a co-working space, I reached out to one of my professional freelance friends for guidance on the best place to work with other progressive, entrepreneurial millennials. As I listed out a few options, she commented on one matter-of-factly, “Oh, yes, that’s where the white feminists go.”

That’s where the white feminists go. The weight of her commentary was understood, because somehow in a country that has successfully reached a fever pitch of outrage about all the oppressive things, we still have the racial constructs obstructing our activism. It is time to dismantle the counterproductive concept of “white feminism” and for white women to collectively adopt intersectional feminism. And to do that, white women must first check themselves using some of the following criteria:

Put Your Resources to Work for the Advancement of WOC

Beyond being the buzzword of the decade, privilege is an active and daily contributor to the lives of white women. Historically, white women have been paid, protected, and promoted over women of color for centuries, despite having never done anything different or more deserving to warrant it. It continues to happen today (see: Adele’s 2017 Grammy win over Beyonce, in which she herself admitted that privilege was at play). Thus white women doing the work should always ensure that they are leveraging their resources and privilege to pull up women of color who have been overlooked. Adele’s speech is a historic case study for this.

Credit Your Sources

There are the Kardashians, and then, there are white feminists who take credit for ideology, programming, activist causes, and more without ever properly citing the women of color who came before them. In the United States, there are countless Native American women, Latina women, and African American women who have for centuries blazed a trail for feminism and fighting the power. While there’s nothing new under the sun, it is critical that white feminists not fully co-opt movements started by women of color long before they cared to find their voice.

Give Something Up

In arguably one of the most memorable lines Toni Morrison wrote, she suggested, “you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” No truer words have been spoken for white women who are committed to the cause of advancement for all women. If privilege, biases, and racism continue to reside in the collective subconscious of white women, the entire feminist movement remains clipped. To get its wings, white women will need to sacrifice the comforts they’ve long enjoyed. Anne Hathaway demonstrated this in the most basic way when she spoke up about #NiaWilson and #BlackLivesMatter recently.

She sacrificed her platform and potentially dissenting followers to speak out when it was necessary. Jessica Chastain did this when she risked her salary for the sake of Octavia Spencer.  If white women remain silent and withhold outrage about acts of violence affecting women of color simply because they don’t need to care or it doesn’t affect them—the movement will never truly soar.

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feminism feminists intersectional feminism White feminists women's rights
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