A friend on Facebook asked, “Women of color, who are my friends (and your friends), how do you feel the feminist movement fails or discounts you. What would you like to see happen?” One answer was so thorough and so good, I had to share it here.
Erien Rennée says:
So not only do WOC (specifically black women) have to deal with everything white women have to deal with plus more. The plight of the black man is a real thing. Black men go to jail on things that would be a misdemeanor charge for white men, black men are killed at a higher rate by the police. These things reflect black women because now they are the sole bread winner for the house because (no husband). They are then labeled and judged and given a really hard time for basically being black. We also struggle with better funding with inner city schools, getting out of the ghetto etc, these are things that white women normally do not struggle with on a large scale and thus it is pushed to the back burner.
When people say that slavery is over, get over it, it just grinds my gears, in larger cities where there are “ghettos” black people are grouped into undesirable areas of the city and forced to live on top of each other because they housing market was 100% against them. They are forced into housing complexes where tensions are high and crime is endless; whereas, in white suburban neighborhoods, you’re far away from your neighbors and aren’t living on top of each other thus crime is lower. Personally I want to shoot my neighbors everyday because they are so loud, I wouldn’t be so violent if they did not live on top of me. This is all a product of slavery. We went from shackles, to to Jim crow, to separate and not equal, to voting laws, to literacy laws, to housing discrimination, to bank/loan discrimination, to black wall street being burned down. Black women can’t have anything because they have never been allowed to have anything.
We are not actually represented in the feminist movement, we need more women of color as activists and “poster children” of the movement so we actually can feel included. There is lack of representation and this is not for lack of effort. There are plenty of black women leading the charge, but get no media attention.
There is also a lot of racism in feminism history, it’s hard to look past that when people won’t even acknowledge it. When all men were able to vote, people like Susan B. Anthony were on the front lines of degrading black men, thinking that they were next in line because of their skin color.
There are also a group of tweets circulating the internet from a Native American perspective. They marched on Saturday and did ritualistic Native American dances, chants and had on native garb, she said white feminists beside her said “well I guess we’re Indians today”. This is not okay. POC can tend to be a joke for WW but this is not the case. A lot of WW don’t sit down and take a back seat while WOC express the way they feel and actually listen and not just react and get defensive.
Moreover, in a society where only one type of beauty is celebrated, the Black feminist is working so that we not only call silky hair and light skin pretty/good but also coarse, kinky hair and dark skin. WOC are fighting to share the experiences of other colored women, as seen in the television program Black Girls Rock (which has been called racist by WW). Colleges and universities are now starting to offer courses dealing with Black feminist theory, black female thought, and black female studies which is where WW pop in and say “well what about us?”. WW have to realize it’s not all about them and they need to shut up and listen. Nobody is being mean, we’re just sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Thanks very much to the friend for asking the question, and to Erien for the amazing answer!