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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. 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

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LaDonna Brave Bull Allard Activist — LaDonna Brave Bull Allard is an activist and tribal historian who is a leader in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In April 2016, she founded the Sacred Stone Camp on her land, which was the first resistance camp of the #NoDAPL movement and some of the closest tribally owned land to the construction site. Since the founding of the Sacred Stone Camp, thousands of water protectors camped and organized to prevent the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Because of activists like LaDonna, the #NoDAPL movement grew to be one of the most powerful and widely supported Indigenous rights movements in recent decades. – @bitchmedia — LaDonna is a national certified interpretive guide, has her own guide company and has trained in historical preservation. She has compiled all historical information for the Standing Rock Scenic Byway. She discusses how, the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota traveled throughout North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Nebraska, Wyoming, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba as a major entity on the plain. Her past lecture has been on 500 years of oppression, Native American Women, History of Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the notorious history of Standing Rock. — LaDonna eloquently discusses with diverse audiences information about her tribe’s 2.3 million acres of land, where there is still native grass, plants, migrating birds, and native medicines that are needed for everyday use. Today, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has four bands of the Nakota/Dakota and Lakota, and is located at the central border of North and South Dakota. LaDonna Allard has been recorded for Wisdom of the Elders Radio at www.wisdomoftheelders.org ( Series Two – Program Three – Historical Intro). – @wisdomoftheelders — #DailyFeminist #LaDonnaBraveBullAllard #Native #American #Activist #NoDAPL #Lakota #StandingRock #Sioux #NativeRights #IndigenousRights #WisdomOfTheElders

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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

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The murder of Nia Wilson- may she rest in the power and peace she was denied here- is unspeakable AND MUST NOT be met with silence.  She is not a hash tag; she was a black woman and she was murdered in cold blood by a white man. White people- including me, including you- must take into the marrow of our privileged bones the truth that ALL black people fear for their lives DAILY in America and have done so for GENERATIONS.  White people DO NOT have equivalence for this fear of violence. Given those givens, we must ask our (white)selves- how “decent” are we really?  Not in our intent, but in our actions?  In our lack of action? Peace and prayers and JUSTICE for Nia and the Wilson family xx Note: the comments for this post are closed. #blacklivesmatter #antiracist #noexcuse #sayhername #earntherighttosayhername

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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.