BY KYLI RODRIGUEZ-CAYRO
Dear White Women,
I’m writing to you because I know we can do better.
We, white women, have historically erased black women from the feminist narrative as long as feminism has existed. Many of our first-wave suffragettes such as Susan B. Anthony were blatant racists, and our second-wave heroes co-opted the civil rights movement to create the women’s liberation movement. That does not determine we must feel white guilt or dismiss the accomplishments of historical feminists - it just means our modern day movement has more opportunities to grow.
No more excuses, no more convenient silence, no more exclusive feminism. We must definitively and directly stand with Women of Color.
Here are 6 easy ways to practice intersectionality:
Quit It With The "Not All White Women" Nonsense
American white women failed this election; 53% of us voted for Donald Trump. I know, you didn’t vote for him personally, but drop the defense when Women of Color call us all out. It is our sole responsibility to educate our communities and initiate difficult conversations about race and privilege. As allies we must confront our loved ones, whether at holiday gatherings or on social media after your cousin shares her tenth "All Lives Matter" post of the week. I understand how disheartening these confrontations can become, but we cannot resort to inaction when we face the backlash black women experience on a daily basis. Feminism that excludes adversity faced by Women of Color is not feminism, period. Remember, our personal comfort is not and never will be paramount to another’s life.
Your Fight For Reproductive Justice Needs To Include Racial Justice
Reproductive justice encompasses more than merely birth control and abortion access. It also includes the right for Women of Color to raise their children without fear that they will fall victim to the school-to-prison pipeline, or be murdered by law enforcement for simply living while black. Fighting for body autonomy encompasses fighting against the systematic oppression People of Color endure.
I’m Sorry, But Love Alone Will Not Trump Hate
First, let me say, I am proud of you for participating in the Women’s March.
We came together and empowered millions of women, which is no small feat. However, this is just the beginning of our budding resistance.
As white women, we need to go further, faster. Ask yourself: Do you stand in solidarity with People of Color? Are you willing to join the frontline when ICE separates more families? Are you using your resources or skills to aid marginalized communities? Historically, black activists such as Angela Davis, Medgar Evers, and Marsha P. Johnson were met with police brutality, and violence, DESPITE peacefulness or positivity. The only difference between The Women’s March and Black Lives Matter Movement is racial disparity.
F*CK the normalization of white supremacy, bigotry, and high-fiving police officers. We need to be outraged, passionate, and 100% willing to support People of Color.
Stop Trying To Make Cultural Appropriation Happen, It’s Not Going To Happen
Do I need to even explain what cultural appropriation is in 2017? If you need examples, just search for images of "Ko-opted Kardashian Kornrows" or white Women’s March attendees with "Lemonade" lyric signs. You may wonder why appropriation is an important topic to address while our political system is in disarray, and here is the simple answer: Women of Color have repeatedly asked us to refrain from exploiting black culture, so let’s just refrain. You can love Beyoncé and sing along, but do not bottle up her Black Girl Magic to sell on Etsy.
Enough. Gynocentric. Feminism.
AKA, drop the trans-exclusive pussy hats and feminism that centers only women with vaginas. Juniperangelica Xiomara wrote a wonderful piece about this on Wear Your Voice. Go read it and share with your cis-identfying friends.
Lastly, just LISTEN.
How many of you hate being mansplained about sexism and your experiences? If you vigorously nodded yes, then why do you keep whitesplaining Women of Color? Race is not a tool to divide feminists, and the injustice of others does not invalidate our own experiences.
We need to be honest with each other about the problematic aspects in the feminist movement. Activism is not a performance and injustice works around-the-clock; we have benefited from our white privilege, lucky enough to not feel the impact of oppression in our day-to-day lives. Accepting that as a simple truth rather an accusation is the only way our modern day feminist movement can progress and thrive.
So, want to truly "get in formation?"
Let’s step up and support Women of Color.
Kyli Rodriguez-Cayro: Writer. Mixed Media Artist. Activist. Latina. Owner of PaperTrail Pendants. Manic Pixie Coffee Drinker.