Stop equating feminism and racism
The flaws of ‘And Just Like That’: Oppression competitions are getting women nowhere
“Either she realizes it and doesn’t care, or she doesn’t understand the weight of calling a black woman ‘intimidating’ and ‘scary,’” I said to my co-worker, sitting on a restaurant rooftop and gazing around at the scenery.
“Or a woman at all,” she responded. “Women are always misunderstood when they stand up for themselves.”
I turned my gaze back to the white woman sitting across from me.
“No, I said what I meant — a black woman being referred to with those labels holds more weight,” I repeated.
She shrugged. She didn’t get it. Nor would she ever.
There is this ongoing (and exhausting) pattern that goes on when white women and black women talk about racism. Within seconds, the topic changes to feminism. If you’re a history buff, you know it’s the same energy as when Frederick Douglass tried to work with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. One group is far more interested in equal rights for women — largely those who are white. The other group doesn’t have the luxury of separating the two — black women fit in both categories.
I don’t understand the fixation on every issue revolving around them. When I talk to LGBTQ+ women, I don’t try to change the subject from homophobia. When I talk to Jewish women, I don’t become tone deaf about the discussion of the Holocaust. When I talk to Hispanic women, I don’t stare at the ceiling when immigration concerns come up. So when I’m talking about racism — that’s what I want to talk about: racism, not these broad assumptions about all women. Stop. Changing. The. Subject.
That nonstop redirect is the reason you rarely (if at all) see photos of black women wearing pussy hats during Hillary Clinton’s presidential run. While 94% of black women who voted supported Clinton’s run as Commander in Chief, we were still fully aware that anti-racism matters just as much to us as feminism. Somehow that point still keeps getting lost.
The post I wrote about the interracial couple who tried to buy a police officer’s home has been on my mind for several days. While I’m deeply offended by anybody framing a Ku Klux Klan application on their bedroom wall and still having the audacity to try to sell their home without removing it, if you know the history behind the KKK becoming police officers, you’re not surprised by this.
But while walking outside and listening to the WBEZ podcast, I stopped in the middle of the street when the police officer’s wife proudly said she was the one who bought the application. That is exactly the problem I’m talking about.