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A Year in Review: The Top 10 Most Racist/Privileged Things White Feminists Did in 2013

In honor of the #stopblamingwhitewomenweneedunity hashtag (started via this Huffington Post article penned by the delightfully clueless Adele Wilde-Blavatsky) I’ve decided to put together a top ten honoring the many interesting methods white feminists employed this year to promote unity between themselves and feminists of color.

From refusing to defend feminists of color against attacks from the patriarchy (or from other white feminists for that matter), to deriding feminists of color for not being feminist enough, to blaming feminists of color’s oppressions on their own cultures (instead of, you know, patriarchy) white feminists sure have a funny way of expressing their desire for unity with feminists of color.

10. When 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis, the young actress and Oscar nominee, was called a cunt by The Onion in a poorly thought out satire attempt, white feminists decided that not defending her made sense because cunt shouldn’t be a bad word anyway and whatever, it was a joke ok? Anyway, it’s not like white feminists are in the habit of defending other white women against gender-based comedic assaults. I mean, unless you were called a slut. Or if Seth MacFarlane sings a song about your boobs.

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9. Lily Allen became a white feminist icon for pop anthem “Hard out Here”, a video in which she sings the lines “no need to shake my ass for you cause I’ve got a brain” over a backdrop of black women shaking their asses for you in a demonstration of how brainless they are.  Clearly, this video would make any feminist proud, since intersectionality is not a real thing. Even so, this too ended up being an instance of a satire that went completely over the heads of women of color feminists, who mistook the video as a fully clothed white woman singing about her own liberation while using gyrating half-naked black women and hip-hop culture in general to illustrate her point about what empowerment doesn’t look like.

8. And in an interesting turn of events, Miley Cyrus is a also feminist icon for doing almost the exact opposite of Lily Allen, and reveling in her own booty-shaking scantily-clad glory. I say almost because she does this while accessorizing with black women and black “ratchet” culture in many of the same ways that Allen does, since that seems to be the only method white feminist icons know of to drive their feminist viewpoints home. White feminists rushed to defend her from scathing slut-shaming criticism but, once again, very few critiqued her minstrelsy (and even when they did give her metaphoric black face and cultural appropriation a cursory mention, it was only to say something along the lines of “this deserves attention” just not in this article).

7. Self-proclaimed feminist mouthpiece Lena Dunham also skyrocketed to feminist icon status this year when she won two Golden Globes for her hit TV series Girls, a show which Dunham believes represents any woman who hasn’t felt her voice represented in the media (to paraphrase her Globe acceptance speech). She has naturally decided to only use upper middle class, college educated white women as the stand in voice for women of a wide range of different cultural experiences, ethnicities and economic backgrounds and has based the show in some imaginary section of Brooklyn, NY where people of color appear to be almost non-existent. But don’t take that to mean that Dunham doesn’t see people of color because she absolutely does; just only when they’ve done something she doesn’t like.

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6. Yet, somehow, Beyoncé missed the boat for white feminist icon this year despite the success of yet another album with a number of pro-woman anthems and finally officially declaring her support of feminism. Is it because she’s decided to promote her music under married name just like Lily Allen has? Is it because she posed half-naked for the same photographer Lena Dunham posed half-naked for? What exactly was she missing that they had? It’s hard to be sure but there’s been some speculation.

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5. Then there’s Michelle Obama, who is apparently failing feminists nationwide through her startling inaction since the message she sends by starting the first organic garden on white house grounds is not activist enough. Additionally, using her platform as First Lady to preach good diet and exercise when blacks in America have the highest rates of diet-related illness is an obvious waste of her time, as is focusing on raising her children. White feminists want us to remember that motherhood, especially woman of color motherhood, especially black motherhood, is never radical or feminist.

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4. In world news, white feminists continued campaigns against India this year provoked by what they perceived as “cultural attitudes” and backwards traditions, which have led to India’s recent rape “epidemic” which gained international notice late last year.  It’s hard to say how Indian rape culture became the epidemic of choice over rape-culture in western nations while having a higher rape conviction rate (about 24%) than many western nations, including the UK (7%) and Sweden (10%), and despite America not only topping the global list of reported rapes per year (including having college campus sexual assault statistics that would seem to make a woman equally as safe in an American dorm as in a Delhi public bus). What we do know is that there is no need to fear; white savior is here to bring women of color salvation from their savage male counterparts.

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3. Speaking of international feminist attitudes, the Ukraine-based feminist group Femen staged what they called a “topless jihad” this year, allegedly in support of Amina Tyler, a Tunisian woman who was arrested after posting topless photos of herself with feminist slogans painted on her chest. They provided their “support” in the form of a full-scale attack on Islam, and showed their solidarity with Muslim women by calling Islamists “inhuman beasts” and by producing images of themselves profaning Islamic spiritual practices and customs among other forms of encouragement. White feminists then patted themselves on the back for a job well done.

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2. Although women of color have been attempting to bring Hugo Schwyzer’s racist antics to the attention of white feminists at least since his defense of a white woman’s plagiarism of a Chicana blogger’s work in 2008, white feminists seemed to mostly ignore them (and in certain cases even defended him) until he himself broke down and admitted his bigotry earlier this year, proving that a white man, even an attempted murderer and admitted sexual predator, is always more reliable than a black woman. The incident, along with the support Schwyzer received from bloggers at popular feminist sites Feministe, Jezebel and Pandagon, resulted in the creation of the #solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag by Mikki Kendall. The hashtag and accompanying tweets were promptly reposted on the very site they’d been created to critique in an effort to encourage dialogue, though it slipped the poster’s minds to advise their readers that the hashtag was about them.

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1. Last, but certainly not least, feminist folk-singing icon and Ani DiFranco chose to help black feminists workout their history of slavery issues by making music and good vibes for them on a former plantation (and inviting them to do the same for the low price of $1100-$4000 a head). When large numbers of ungrateful women of color expressed outrage at this move, and when DiFranco stayed silent in the face of said outrage, DiFranco supporters took to Facebook in her defense, with one even going so far as to create a fake black online persona to defend their position. Luckily said persona used enough bastardized Ebonics that black feminists were finally able to successfully understand and accept white feminists educated and enlightened viewpoints for what they were. Unfortunately, it was too late to save the retreat from being cancelled.

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Oh well, there’s always next year! Until then…

The Colored Fountain

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231 Comments

  1. Jade

     /  July 26, 2014

    I’m someone from the Caribbean who moved to North America a few years ago…I’m here reading this and I really appreciated the article..I believe that it made a lot of valid points..But it made me seriously think about something that I got from the comments posted here.. That is, have you ever thought about how stupid and racist this whole “men of color/women of color” thing is? What’s a person of color? Everyone who is non-white? Arabs, Asians, Indians, Negroes, etc..So ok, there is either white or person of color? Those are the two groups? How does no one see anything strange, racist and absolutely ridiculous about that? I think “non-white” is what is really being implied by “person of color.” Therefor I think that’s what should be said. If you want to group people up, how about not trying to group me up, how about separating yourself (as is being done, I.E white) and making the distinction that everyone else is just non-white? I really am not sure where this person of color term came from, because unless you are invisible, you are a person of color.

    Reply
    • I’m not sure that ‘non-white’ is any better, what that’s saying is that white people are the norm and that anyone else is ‘other’ or less than – using the identity of an oppressor as a means of self-identification seems far more problematic. Whereas people of colour addresses various different races outside of Caucasian as a group which is marginalised but find collective strength together. I offer up this link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2014/03/30/295931070/the-journey-from-colored-to-minorities-to-people-of-color

      Sorry, as a white person I may be white-plaining but I had a similar thought – both due to concerns you note here, also because as a member of a marginalised group myself I have issues with terms and language used to describe my people, so I thought it best I check that these terms are preferred. Seems POC/WOC is widely accepted by everyone, but of course if YOU (or anyone else) wish to be identified differently that should be accepted too, I’m just offering up the above link as an idea on where POC/WOC may come from and why people may use the term.

      Reply
      • Jordan Martin

         /  September 16, 2014

        Yes you make a lot of good points, and that article was very informative. I think people should remember that there is only one race–the human race– and many ethnicities. I was re-reading my comment and it made me wonder what pres Obama thinks about being “a person of colour” given that he is a person of two colours.

  2. txaggie16

     /  May 24, 2014

    I’m tired of black people always being quick to pull the race card. Nobody ever talks about black people being racist.

    Reply
  3. I’m just going to leave this link here. I encourage you all to read it, as it adds a little more dimension to the very last point. This is not to take away from the overall message of this post though! Please do not think so by any means, as the overall neglect of intersectionality in many “feminist” actions needs to be talked about. No type of identity stands alone from others.

    http://www.righteousbabe.com/blogs/ani-difranco-news/11177641-righteous-retreat-cancelled

    Reply
  4. Davinder

     /  April 24, 2014

    Good article, I agree with all of this, I honestly enjoyed it…

    However, you clearly don’t know shit about things outside of the US, popular culture and yourself. With regards to India : Please do some more thorough research before commenting on highly sensitive issues in other countries and cultures, even if you think you’re defending them. Why do you think they need your defense, and what qualifies you to do so? You know that ”white saviour” thing you hate? Well that’s what you are doing here but I guess in this case it’s “US saviour” (or as I’m guessing it goes in your head “Incredible-educated-morally-right-on-writer saviour”). You have appropriated their suffering for your own gain, for you’re blog and you’re ego. Your arrogance and hypocrisy are outstanding and seemingly completely unaware. Just because you know some race-crit jargon and have experienced some ”oppression” does not give you the right to talk about things you clearly don’t understand just because you’re ”POC” or whatever. You can not lump yourself in with us. In your race-crit language: You are from the USA, you are the oppressor. Maybe inside the US and Europe white people or men or whatever are your oppressor. For the rest of the world, the US is the oppressor. You have so much privilege just by being an American. Privileged by your class: by being overly educated, by having access to free speech and internet etc to write this precocious self righteous drivel, to have the luxury time show everyone how smart you are. So please climb off your high horse and have some humility.

    Reply
    • Davinder

       /  April 24, 2014

      Sorry about that. Got a bit over sensitive about that issue. Just tired of American writers rushing to defend things they don’t understand, especially when they call other immoral for doing so. Shouldn’t let it all out at you. You can delete that stuff above if you like^

      Reply
      • you know, we deal with our own shit. we deal with how we’re treated here. you’re not responding to this article, you’re on some whole other type shit. this wasn’t trying to detail the issues from other nations. the author wasn’t addressing the situations in other countries. she talked about issues HERE. so your rant is derailing and has no place here.

      • zarengurl

         /  April 25, 2014

        and by “we” i mean the women of color here. and as a black woman, you know jack shit about the intersections of an american identity and being a black woman. especially because you can’t assume that the WOC are n fact economically privileged.

    • My apologies. You are right, people from the United States are privileged in the international sphere even if as a self-educated working class black person I am not privileged within my own country. I’d like to hear more from you about how we people from the United States can critique each other in a way that is more respectful to the fact that we are all privileged in these situations (that is, if you have the time and energy, as it is not your job to educate anybody here). I basically want to be able to say that is is fucked up the way that certain groups from the United States discuss international issues as if international people of color are not as morally sound as people from the United States, and as if their issues are more reprehensible than ours. However, I still want to be acknowledging my own privilege in the situation so that I am not perceived to be doing the very same thing I’m calling out.

      Reply
      • Arya Dariush

         /  May 7, 2014

        As a person who grew up in the middle east, I can hopefully help you with that. First off, think a bit more critically of those statistics you were using. Highest conviction and reporting of rape rates? That doesn’t at all mean more rape is happening. In my own country very few rapes are ever reported because reporting one’s own rape is actually dangerous in the face of the government and one’s own family. Women get thrown in jail for having premarital sex even after being raped, and there’s no point in reporting a rape by your own husband because the courts will never consider that to be rape and its completely acceptable for that to happen. If we are defining rape the way we do in the west, which includes spousal rape, rape while the victim is intoxicated, etc. . . I’m 100% certain it occurs far more frequently in India and the Middle East and its much more difficult to seek help for it.

        That being said, I absolutely agree on the notion of the west (and this is not just a white people thing, it’s all of you) painting the men of India, or Islamists, or African men who hurt women and queer people as “inhuman beasts” is ridiculous. It’s ridiculous because it’s false and hence unhelpful. The men people who are responsible for hurting women or queer people in the rest of the world are not just a bunch of beasts who don’t know better, they are patriarchs. They have power, and they know they are causing harm, but they do it anyways because they can and want to maintain that power. I think a lot of people in the west just think they are beasts because it’s so obvious to us that they are hurting people (when you throw a woman in jail for her own rape, there’s noting insidious about that being an affront on women), but how obvious oppression is to people is relative. When we understand the men in places like India or the middle east to be powerful men who are abusing people to maintain power (just like men often do in the west), we can better find strategies for dealing with those issues. It’s not just about teaching men that women are people, it’s about reconciling power. When you have that framework, we should understand that we don’t need a saviour of any sort, white or otherwise. We need to listen to the women in India and the Middle East who consider those places their homes and their culture but are working to be better treated and represented. Listen to the women who actually lived much of their lives in those parts of the world, not just the ones who’s parents immigrated from their to the USA, because they don’t have the answers. That will include even listening to the arab women from FEMEN who you may disagree with (I often do) as well as the queer Palestinian people who are trying to liberate Palestine from occupation along with queer liberation. Listen to them, and be their allies, not their voices.

        On your last point about people painting international folks as less morally sound and their issues as more reprehensible: I often find that whenever people accuse feminists in the USA of having “first world problems” the typical response nowadays is to deny their western privilege and claim to have problems on par with people outside by using shitty and poorly analysed statistics. That’s highly problematic and dishonest and often results in trying to diminish the issues that women in the international sphere face (that may or may not be worse than your conditions) just to focus on yourself. Some issues are going to be more horrible than others in certain places and less horrible in others. Issues like rape, domestic violence, and violence/silencing of queer people are far worse in most of the Middle East than a lot of the USA. On the other hand, incarceration, militarism, and education in the USA are pretty damn terrible and worse than where I’m from. The correct response to have is not to say “oh but you’re wrong India is fine” because that is bullshit, but to say “all oppressed/marginalized experiences matter and we should not always look at prioritizing or playing the oppression olympics game”. We should be able to discuss issues of women in the USA, and with specificity to WoC, or transwomen (who can also be WoC), the specificity of black women, etc. . . as well as discuss issues of women who are not dealing with white patriarchs in the international sphere.

  5. Natasia

     /  April 18, 2014

    LOL so true.

    Reply
  6. I feel like there is a lot of generalisation going on in this. How can you say that all ‘white feminist’ are against ‘feminists of colour’. clearly some of the things in this article are not the right thing to do, but I don’t feel there is need for an attack. I do understand that a problem is there, however, is pitting one race of feminist against another helping anything? There is a general over arching feeling of hatred towards people who are fighting for the same thing, feminism is not a competition and disunity serves only to undermine the battles we have already won. The age old saying ‘divided we fall’ comes to mind. This will not do.

    Reply
    • Nik

       /  February 3, 2014

      Literally missing all the points with this “united we stand” nonsense. The problem is that we are not united and pretending that we are and ignoring the many many many cases where we aren’t so you can feel more comfortable as a white woman is not going to fix the problem. If you consider someone pointing out the many cases of white feminist ignoring and wrongly criticizing black feminist and feminist of color as an attack, you are part of the problem.

      Reply
    • Sabrina

       /  March 23, 2014

      Danni you are basically demonstrating the points the author has made

      Reply
  7. gavra

     /  January 30, 2014

    Capitalist ‘feminism’ is not even worth talking about. Vile and harmful garbage.

    Reply
  8. As a white woman watching the Amina scandal unfold while living in Tunisia, and then the follow-up of the FEMEN protestors in Tunisia, I was shocked and ashamed.

    My female Tunisian coworkers and I discussed this in depth as we followed Amina’s disappearance after posting her topless photo on Facebook, and the subsequent reaction of FEMEN.

    While watching one of the myriad of videos that popped up on the Tunisian blogosphere, a 23-year coworker turned to me and asked “Why are they doing that?” She couldn’t comprehend how these foreign women taking their shirts off and disgracing her culture and religion thought they were helping. My reply was simple, “They’re here to save oppressed women like you.” Her face revealed heart-break, anger, and shock.

    I continued, though, so she could know that not every white feminist had such degrading views of females. I told her the truth, what I believed:

    “You are the real Islamic feminists, though. These women don’t understand you. They don’t see you coming to work everyday, they don’t see you supporting your family. Educating yourself, working for a better future, not because you’re a woman, but because you’re a person. They don’t understand the history of Bourguiba [Tunisia's first dictator who made sweeping feminist reforms on par with and ahead of many European countries of the time]. They don’t understand that you wear the hijab out of respect for yourself, your family, and God and his Prophet. They think you don’t know any better, so they come and make fools of themselves.”

    This young woman was 23 at the time, and had a son about to turn 2. She had married, but still graduated from university with a Masters in English after giving birth to her son. She makes an hour-and-a-half commute to and from work every single day, and returns home to take care of her family in a rural town. She is smart, feisty, fearless, hilarious, and loving.

    Amina really stirred up a lot of diverse feelings about the newfound freedom of expression (which was not permissible under the Orwellian-style former dictator Ben Ali) and are still coming to terms with this. This was the only point my Tunisian friends and I clashed. Was Amina taking her shirt off appropriate? Of course not. Was it her right? Yes. Were the reasons she was doing it poignantly feminist? Well, not necessarily. The strong feminists I knew thought what I generally think of FEMEN, this form of protest only further divides women who are genuinely working and trying to ensure that patriarchal societies and institutions that exist take us seriously and give us the respect that we earn (because no matter what gender, race, or socio-economic background, a person should earn respect through their actions–and every person should have the equal opportunity to be able to earn respect…in that idyllic fantasy world that doesn’t really exist).

    I get that there are experiences I cannot share with people who differ in gender, race, socio-economic class, etc. and it’s important that we inform ourselves through communication with those who share different experiences and backgrounds to help us shed our own ignorance and prejudices. I don’t think it’s possible to entirely remove stereotypes and misconceptions we have as it is only human to err, but we can change how we perceive those that are different than us, and everybody should be responsible for attempting to understand our globalized community better.

    Especially, white privileged women such as myself. We can’t change where we come from, but we can change how we think and let it unite us and not divide us.

    Thanks for posting this, I’ve read quite a few articles about cultural misappropriation and the mess white feminists (among others) make. Thanks for writing and sharing a perspective that really isn’t heard nearly enough.

    Reply
  9. Sanjay

     /  January 18, 2014

    Does this article mention things like racial preferences that white women have ? No, if these high incidences of rape occurred in a country like England or France and the perpetrators were white men, do you think white women would have attacked their morals and character and stereotyped them all ? Heck No, but they occurred in a non-white country, so as far as white women are concerned, they can be as racist as they want when talking about rape, because apparently two wrongs make a right. How many of these woman have slept with an indian man ? Very few If any, these women pick their partners and one night stands based purely on race, then act like we are wrong for calling them a racist, sometimes I question whether white people have any sense of conscience or humanity

    Reply
    • Davinder

       /  April 23, 2014

      “How many of these woman have slept with an indian man ? Very few If any, these women pick their partners and one night stands based purely on race, then act like we are wrong for calling them a racist, sometimes I question whether white people have any sense of conscience or humanity”.

      ^ LOL. This is some of the highest density nonsense bigotry I have ever read. Sanjay is clearly upset because no white women have choosen to sleep with him. You Sanjay are projecting your own sexual insecurities so clearly that it requires no explanation or discection.

      Reply
      • Arya Dariush

         /  May 7, 2014

        People can also have sexual preferences that go beyond “does this person have a penis” (assuming they prefer a penis). Asserting that somebody has to be attracted to you just because you are a man is ridiculous. As a queer man of color, and as much as white feminists frustrate me, I find it appalling how often straight men of color fetishize white women and think it’s okay to abuse their emotions and personhood because they are white and you aren’t. Nobody owes you sex. You are not entitled to it and guilting somebody into complying with your sexual advances by accusing them of racism is a horrible, manipulative and despicable thing to do.

  10. AQ

     /  January 16, 2014

    I thought the recent attention to rapes in India was due to the sheer brutality of the incidents.
    In general I think it’s very hard to compare rape statistics between countries, because of differences in what the law considers rape and differences in reporting rates. Despite many, many rapes going unreported in the US, I would say that an American woman is far more likely to report acquaintance rape than women in some other countries. This would both increase the reporting rate and decrease the conviction rate.

    Reply
    • what about that would logically decrease the conviction rate? logically, it would seem that if there were higher incidences of reporting, & the subsequent doing of their jobs by agencies tasked to deal with such things, that the conviction rate would be higher due to the higher reporting rate…

      Reply
      • AQ

         /  January 30, 2014

        That sort of rape has a lower conviction rate, thus lowering the average conviction rate for rape. Rate is a percentage, when you have more rapes that are difficult to prosecute reported, you will get more convictions, but the rate will drop.

    • this is completely illogical. it would follow that id there is a higher rate of reporting, if the corresponding agencies tasked to do their jobs actually do them, then the conviction rate would be higher as well. how does it compute that a larger reporting of acquaintance rape would lead to a decreased rate of actual convictions?

      Reply
    • Astrofish

       /  March 10, 2014

      Useful idea, thank you.

      Reply
  11. Thank you for a thoughtful, well-written piece.

    Reply
  12. The page for the DiFranco thing isn’t coming up for me, but I will say this. Currently, the East India Trading Company, which you may recognize from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, or if you are a history buff, as the the company that exploited India for most of it’s existence, is now owned by an Indian man. He purchased the company because he wanted to take it over, make it his. This was a company with it’s own army that owned India for 200 years, and now it’s his. He wanted to take this terrible thing and make it something India could be proud of. Something that was a shining light instead of just a black stain.

    “But, at an emotional level as an Indian, when you think with your heart as I do, I had this huge feeling of redemption – this indescribable feeling of owning a company that once owned us.”

    “When I took over the company, my objective was to understand its history. I took a sabbatical from all other business and this became the single purpose in my life,”

    Why can’t we do the same thing to plantations? I’m not a fan of her music, but as I understand, it is pretty emotional. If you want bring out emotion, why not go to a plantation, show people it’s history, understand what it was, and then make something beautiful out of it? Don’t wallow in the past, instead, understand it, and make something better.

    Or are we just upset about the price because black people are all poor and can’t afford it?

    Just to re-iterate, the page wouldn’t load, so if she was advertising it as a Klan retreat for white people to sing songs about why slavery was awesome, I couldn’t see it.

    Reply
    • The main question, I think, is the question of who “we” are. Notably, the man who did that was of the race that was oppressed by the company, whereas Ani DiFranco was not. If she had gone out and arranged for black artists and individuals to be able to use this plantation on their own conditions, reclaiming and profiting from that which was once used to oppress them, then I don’t think abyone would be complaining. But when she, a white person, was the primary individual to profit from this endeavor, when it was done on her terms, then there isn’t any “reclaiming” going on. She’s just using, as a white person, what has historically always been a place dominated by white people.

      Reply
      • I see, so white people are unable to look at the horrors that went on at a place and be moved by it because the perpetrators that committed the horrors were also white.

        That is a right reserved only for black people.

        Also, of note, looking over this event more, it looks like the outrage was more over the fact that the owner of the plantation made it a resort and tried to romanticize the slavery and downplay the horrors that happened at his resort. Had she had it at a place that used to be a plantation but now was just a simple farm or even a museum of slavery, there probably wouldn’t have been any outrage at all.

        According to her website, she also canceled the retreat: http://www.righteousbabe.com/blogs/news/11177617-righteous-retreat-cancelled

        This was posted to her website a day before the article linked in this one was posted, and two days before this article was posted. Way to do your research…

      • “I see, so white people are unable to look at the horrors that went on at a place and be moved by it because the perpetrators that committed the horrors were also white.”

        If you want to interpret it that way, then I can’t stop you. However, that interpretation is detached from the content of what I said and the context of what you said.

        You specifically said “reclaiming,” and that is an important word that we need to hang on to. White people cannot “reclaim” areas of black oppression for black people. Only black people can reclaim them. A group of people cannot “reclaim” something unless power over that thing is currently in the hands of a different groups, and plantations have not, on a whole, left the hands of white owners.

        White people might be “moved” by the suffering of black people, but it must be made clear that they are not affected by it in the same way as many black people. White people can choose to engage and disengage with black suffering as they please, whereas black people, all in all, cannot escape it. White people have a lot of power in determining how, when, and where people of color can present themselves AS people of color. Because of the way our society is set up, chances are white people will not lose that power within our lifetimes, so it is important for white people to be mindful and responsible when it comes to interacting with people of color.

        “This was posted to her website a day before the article linked in this one was posted, and two days before this article was posted. Way to do your research…”

        I did not write the article, but it does also acknowledge that the retreat was cancelled in the content. This does not, however, negate the complaints made by black women with regards to DiFranco’s choice, or with regards to the white outpouring of people declaring that DiFranco shouldn’t actually have cancelled.

      • JD Davis

         /  January 28, 2014

        You seem to be disillusioned to the fact that most individuals who were old enough to actually remember the civil rights movement are in their 60s and 70s. The oppressive society they lived in was a different world than what we could even conceive of now. This theory of ethnic-bound “power” just seems foolish to those of us who were born in an era of integration. Anything else would have seemed abnormal until we were told otherwise.

        None of us are born with a predisposition to discriminate. Any sort of bias is taught to us. Perhaps it is time to stop having such an intense focus on the darkest pieces of our history and realize that our society has improved. Then we might stop teaching our children that ethnicity is a discernible difference.

        The only people entitled to anything are those elderly individuals who suffered from oppression and fought for our civil rights. The rest of us received what they fought for and that was a legal right to be equal. I know you are going to retort that by saying ‘we are still being oppressed’, but every individual is by some extent. Giving an advantage to one person will always cause a disadvantage to another. If we want equality, then we must realize that earning our success is the only way to achieve it.

    • Gitz

       /  April 17, 2014

      Upper class White woman leading black people about feeling emotions about slavery… Right.

      Reply
  13. Emily

     /  January 14, 2014

    Completly disagree with the comments with the Lily Allen video. If you look at the video, carefully half the dancers were black and the rest were white. There are some white dancers shaking their ass on the camera. Secondly the dancers were chosen because in Allen’s words because they were “good at dancing”.

    The whole point of the line “no need to shake my ass for you cause I’ve got a brain” is the whole idea of rising above this whole objectification of ALL women (woman of colour, white, Latino, etc.) in the media and focusing on more than just looks. As in our society, the media tends to potrays the way a woman looks to be more important.

    I think maybe this whole thing is examined too much in detail.

    Reply
    • Something I often see as part of the dynamic when people of a certain sort of privilege (in this case, racial) come into a conversation about the treatment of those with less privilege, they often express the point of view that the person with less privilege is “overthinking” some areas in which they notice oppression. But this is actually a very self-oriented way of thinking on the part of the person with privilege; because a privileged person needs to think a great deal in order to come to the same conclusion as the person of less privilege, they assume that all individuals who agree went through the same process.

      However, this is not the case, and it is important to recognize that your ability to view things from the perspective of a person with less privilege than you in a certain way may be impaired. It’s true for all of us.

      When I first watched the Lily Allen video, I *CRINGED*. There wasn’t any deep examination to my response. Just a really awful gut feeling about the way that she presented black women in the video. Sure, there were white women in the video, too, but they weren’t presented in a manner nearly as exploitative relative to the conventional treatment of white women in media. Plus, when the lead singer, set in contrast to all the other women in the video, was white, it allowed for at least some diversity of perspective on white women that was not given to women of color.

      Contrast this with, say, the way that women of all races are used in Janelle Monae’s videos. While she does typically use primarily black dancers, she almost always has the dancers in her videos be part of the same culture and movement that she is. They are there to support her, not there as a contrast to her loftier status. It’s this contrast, and Lily Allen’s choice to use women of color to set herself above them, rather than equal to them or struggling against the same thing, that makes her video more uncomfortable to watch. Even if she says she’s critiquing the exploitative use of ALL women, the video does a better job of establishing her as “different from those other (often black) women” than setting her up as “sharing this struggle against the same forces that oppress all women.”

      Reply
  14. Pointing out other people’s racist actions is not racist people. Shut up and listen, think for a few minutes. Then shut up and think for a longer.

    Reply
  15. tab

     /  January 12, 2014

    nice use of attacking people for their color not their bad ideas and lumping ” us” all together.

    Reply
    • zarengurl

       /  January 13, 2014

      How do white feminists who complain about the whole ‘general statements about white people’ not see the hypocrisy given our conversations about men. Somehow the ‘this isn’t necessarily all men’ is easy to get but ‘this isn’t necessarily all white feminists’ isn’t? – Angela from this forum

      Reply
      • Patrik

         /  January 14, 2014

        Boom!!!

      • Arya Dariush

         /  May 7, 2014

        ^^^^^^^^^^^^

        While I agree, I think attitudes of “us vs. them” often become problematic in certain ways. The way white women go about with their misandry bullshit because its justified to hate men because they are men often results in them shitting on men of color (when black, latino, and NDN men get payed less than white women, get worse education, and get incarcertated way more than anybody else). as well as shitting on queer and transmen (who have many disadvantages that good ol’ cishet while women do not face, in addition to many queer and transmen also being PoC). That being said, the PoC vs. white people thing isn’t that helpful either, and not because I’m invested in white feelings. As a Non-black PoC, I see so many other Non-black and Non-NDN PoC go on anti-white tirades while they endlessly perpetuate anti-blackness and benefit from white supremacy (typically south or east asian folks who are the model minorities). It is of service to no one to takes an “us vs. them” approach because it stops people from being critical to the ways in which we fuck each other over, and also not allow the “them” side to ever improve White people are not solely responsible for anti-blackness as they are not solely responsible for all the issues of feminism (see capitalist feminism, TERFs, hardcore atheist feminism, etc. . .).

  16. PaytonB

     /  January 12, 2014

    Funny that an anti racism article smacks of racism with every word typed. I am thoroughly amused.

    Reply
  17. Sweet Article!!! May I also add that 2013 was a good year for intersectional feminism because it brought widespread awareness to these decades old issues. That can’t be anything but a good thing. Hopefully this continues from this year to beyond!

    Reply
    • Absolutely, I think the fact that we are noticing these things & collectively outraged by them (both feminists of color AND white feminists) means that we are moving in the right direction. Another good thing is that feminism is more mainstream than it’s bee in years because of the discussions these things create.

      Reply
  18. I keep hoping that things are getting better, that people are getting more aware. I’m really sorry people are still being so shitty.

    I’m white, raised a feminist. Pledge to do my best to make sure they don’t represent me or my views.

    I’ve been working for a long time to educate my circle on the concept of privilege, recognizing it, using it for good when you have it, not abusing it, and above all recognizing when your worldview is shaped by privilege others don’t have.

    I’ve been on both sides of the issue, was on welfare as a young single mama, now married and pretty well off, always white, always a woman, as feminist, humanist and anti-racists as I know how to be. And I don’t always succeed.

    Anyway. I’m here, I’m listening. If there’s something I can do better, I’m open to suggestions if anyone cares to give them. Not looking for a pat on the back, and for the love of all that is holy I do not want to step into the defensive mode of “but I’m white and I don’t do that”. I know that in the past, I have done that… and I’m trying to do better.

    I remember in high school, seeing a boy put on detention for swearing, knowing that he was being punished harshly for something because of who he was (“stoner” “troublemaker” “poor”) and that I’d sworn in a conversation with a teacher that very day and gotten zero consequences for it. To test this, I skipped school, bought food, came back, ate my food during the period when no one had lunch, and had three teachers wave at me and say hi. When the period was over, I went to a counselor and said I hadn’t felt like going to class, and could I get an excuse note….And she gave it to me.

    That was eye opening to me, that maybe not everything I had in my (middle class, white, parented by married white professionals, “smart kid”) life was so much earned as just assumed.

    I wish I could say I’d gone to that kid’s defense… but I didn’t even think of it at the time. It didn’t even occur to me.

    I try to make sure it occurs to me now.

    Reply
  19. Jeanne D'arc

     /  January 10, 2014

    I think the main reason People are frustrated by this article is that the general statements made about white people, undoubtedly would be considered nothing less than racist, were they to be made so generally about any race other than the white race. Every single prominent race or subculture that battles for equality faces this epidemic of finger-pointing and blaming.

    While I myself try to remain separate from the content of the articles I am reading, The frustrations from both sides of the argument become tangible here. However, carrying on the cycle of blame helps nobody. Absolutely nobody. Criticizing the methods of your fellow feminists hinders the ability of both sides to make a meaningful impact.

    What I am saying, in short, is that criticizing other feminists, does not make you more feminist. Just like accepting that you cannot bring awareness to every single ignorant you encounter does not make you a bad person. Quit pointing the finger.

    As much as we believe these people may be hindering feminism with their ignorance, and they just may be, the fact is, that as long as we sit here and get caught up in the pettiness, so are we.

    “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

    Reply
    • I am curious – what would you say is a good, non-blame-y way of conveying one’s experience of being systematically ignored because of race, by people who would choose to ignore even that complaint?

      The issue here, also, isn’t the question of who is more or less feminist (whatever that means), but the issue of who gets to define the rules of the feminist movement. When women of color don’t have that power, or need to combat hostile attitudes against their race in order to participate in feminist discussion spaces, then it is not wrong to say that solidarity within the feminist movement has, for too long, been for white women, insofar as it caters to the white, upper-middle class majority rather than striving for inclusivity.

      You ask that women of color strive to be the best they can be, which seems benign enough on its own, but consider for a moment that you do not make the same request of white women. You ask women of color to put forth the effort to be understanding of white women, rather than asking white women to come here and be understanding of the frustration that women of color feel.

      There’s a quote I rather like by Ernest Hemmingway, that goes as so: “The best people possess a feeling for beauty, the courage to take risks, the discipline to tell the truth, the capacity for sacrifice. Ironically, their virtues make them vulnerable; they are often wounded, sometimes destroyed.”

      People of color, especially women, are often asked to be the best people in life. This is often seen as a basic, inoffensive request, except by applying that standard unequally, we also ask that women of color be the most often wounded, and the most often destroyed.

      This post is, perhaps, a statement of being done, of being done with making sacrifices for those with more power than us who give nothing in return, and of taking a stance to fight against the racial and class-based inequality within the feminist movement. That there are white feminists who come here and become upset with some specific of the post is, I think, something to be expected; but, on the other hand, we have those white feminists who come here and say, “You are right, and there are a lot of things we have not considered and need to approach differently.”

      It is enough that we have those people coming; that, indeed, they are at least half of the comments here. For they will be the white feminists who go back into white dominated spaces and make a genuine effort to be inclusive. They came here and chose to listen to women of color who might have been angry and defensive, because they valued being the best person they could be, and not allowing others to suffer while they gained power.

      The fight against racism has always been a fight against a white majority, even if a minority of white people have come to the aid of people of color. And maybe marginalized groups within the feminist movement are taking the time to stand up and point a finger; but I, at least, am glad that it is they who are pointing a finger at white feminists, rather than Mose Wright standing to point his finger at J. W. Milam. When that finger is pointed, even if it is not done perfectly, it is its own statement, that women of color are no longer going to cave to the rules that would silence them. The act of liberating themselves from that form of subversive oppression is, perhaps, the best that they can be in the first place, for in so doing, they open themselves up to far more possibilities than they ever enjoyed operating under a white-dominated gender system.

      Reply
      • IzAnMo

         /  January 11, 2014

        What a wonderful response, riteilu. Following on from a statement you make (see below), I wanted to add something if I may (I hope you don;t mind);: :

        “People of color, especially women, are often asked to be the best people in life. This is often seen as a basic, inoffensive request, except by applying that standard unequally, we also ask that women of color be the most often wounded, and the most often destroyed.”

        People of colour, especially women, are often asked to be the best people in life. But why do they ask this of people of colour, especially women?!

        It seems that others would present the view that people of colour, especially women, somehow need reminding, and that somehow being the best people in life is somehow not an innate characteristic, By implication, it would seem they suggest that others do not require being to do be the best, indeed, as if being to behave.

        Black feminists have always had to fight battles on several fronts.
        There innumerable white feminists who have no clue as to the way society orientates itself in regards to an individual of colour, from the moment of their birth. In the realm of fighting inequality, cannot take anyone serious who cannot understand who colour is so defining. If they want to get me – yes, I am a non-white – then they need to understand I have a right to feel the way I do.

        “People of color, especially women, are often asked to be the best people in life. This is often seen as a basic, inoffensive request, except by applying that standard unequally, we also ask that women of color be the most often wounded, and the most often destroyed.”

        People of colour, especially women, are often asked to be the best people in life. But why do they ask this of people of colour, especially women?!

        It seems that others would present the view that people of colour, especially women, somehow need reminding, and that somehow being the best people in life is somehow not an innate characteristic, By implication, it would seem they suggest that others do not require being to do be the best, indeed, as if being to behave.

        Black feminists have always had to fight battles on several fronts.
        There innumerable white feminists who have no clue as to the way society orientates itself in regards to an individual of colour, from the moment of their birth. In the realm of fighting inequality, cannot take anyone serious who cannot understand who colour is so defining. If they want to get me – and yes, I am a non-white – then they need to understand I have a right to feel the way I do.

    • Really? I hope we’re grown-up enough to be able to take criticism. Because if we can’t, we don’t have a leg to stand on. The idea that feminist methods “should not be criticized” is really troubling. That way lies cultishness. I hope that if people using the word “feminist” screw up that they can be big enough people to hear it and fix what’s going on, seeing as that’s what we’re asking of the people we’re trying to change.

      Reply
    • Angela

       /  January 12, 2014

      How do white feminists who complain about the whole ‘general statements about white people’ not see the hypocrisy given our conversations about men. Somehow the ‘this isn’t necessarily all men’ is easy to get but ‘this isn’t necessarily all white feminists’ isn’t? Their entire comments prove the very points in turning the conversation which is supposed to be about the marginalization of women of color into the poor, poor white women. Pettiness? Quit pointing the finger? Isn’t this exactly what so-called leftist men tell us all the time to shut us down?

      Stop making me so embarrassed to be a white feminist. And then you quote Maya Angelou; appropriation to the max.

      Reply
      • Jael

         /  January 13, 2014

        Amen.

      • zarengurl

         /  January 13, 2014

        This right here man. I hope it’s alright if I use the top portion of your argument as debate material

    • beja

       /  January 14, 2014

      oh,man. i get so mad when people call it racism when generalized statements are made about white people.. this is an amazing response about “reverse racism” – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dw_mRaIHb-M

      Reply
    • I agree :) We need to stick together. “A house divided will fall,” Mark 3:25

      Reply
    • oetpay

       /  January 15, 2014

      the feminist movement exists to self-critique that is literally what it is about. we analyse things and seek to correct their flaws. it is no accident that techniques of literary criticism, film criticism and cultural movements of analysis have been born from the feminist movement.

      second; racism is about contact with power dynamics within society and the way that those power dynamics accentuate and reify commentary on disadvantaged groups.

      saying “white people suck” is not as problematic as you argue, because they are not a disadvantaged group.

      Reply
  20. njb

     /  January 10, 2014

    As usual a WoC perspective generates only defensiveness from white feminists. How about we shut up about our hurt feelings about being generalized and talk about how in the holy hell a white feminist thinks it’s ok to host a sing-a-long in a place where black women were systematically brutalized for generations? How about we stfu for a minute about our experience and our frustrations and hear out some of the feelings other (and othered women) have about the movement. And maybe address some of those issues? Please check yourselves. Being a good ally is being a good listener even when what you’re hearing makes you uncomfortable. I’m a white woman and I want to know why my sister in law won’t let me take my niece to India, even though statistically my niece is much more vulnerable to sexual violence in the predominantly white town she lives in. Why is this form of racism acceptable to white feminists? This is a conversation I want to have, not ad nauseam “Why do black feminists keep attacking me.” Why do we keep derailing the solidarity is for white women conversation our PoC sisters clearly want to have. It’s not white guilt to address legitimate concerns from typically under heard voices. It’s fucking feminism. I’m tired of the defensive and privileged voices that have hijacked the movement. Shut the fuck up about how tired you are of being attacked and LISTEN to what is actually being said.

    Reply
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