When White Feminism Isn’t Enough

We are about to (or we’re already there…) embark on a strange, strange journey into a world that is like no other. I thoroughly believe this. However, this won’t be the Land of Narnia – rather, it will be a nation filled with even more insidious hate, bigotry, and misogyny than most of us millennials (as the current largest demographic) will remember. With this in mind, I’d like to address something that’s been pressing on my mind for a while regarding white feminism, and the inherent privilege that this very title affords us.

I, like many well-meaning Americans, decided to try the, ‘give Donald Trump a chance’ idea for a day or so, since this has become our new reality that we all must live and cope with in the best way we know how. As a privileged white girl living in a very privileged white bubble, I decided that it would be best for me to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. If I’m being honest, I think deep down I “gave him a shot”, because I knew I could.  Selfishly, my white skin allows me to be open to any transgressions that the pathetic man throws out into the world, as the chances of it bothering me based on my skin color is slim to none.  I am not proud of this, but I think it’s true for many of us that are currently living in a state of privilege and may not recognize this on a day-to-day basis.  Donald Trump’s win forced me to look at my own privilege and acknowledge that no, this is not okay– more than ever before.

However, this “chance” didn’t last very long. Shortly after I made this ill-advised decision, Donald Trump appointed a white supremacist as the chief political strategist, a position that, while technically not held in as high esteem as the presidential one, is still pretty important. The president-elect continues to float these types of deplorable names for high positions, as many of us already you know. Readers, this is not okay. We need to stop normalizing these people and the views they represent. Further, this reminds us in these tumultuous times: Feminism, as we know it today, as a primarily white cis woman movement, is no longer enough. We need to begin recognizing feminism as intersectional feminism, which encompasses all races, ethnicity, religious backgrounds, etc.  If you’re a white woman and you identify only as a “feminist,” and you don’t rally also for our minority friends and neighbors, THIS IS NOT ENOUGH.  

While all minorities, as well as white cis women, are under scrutiny and considerable stress due to this mess of an election, I’m afraid that very specific groups of marginalized groups (i.e. the Muslim, Jewish, African American, etc. communities) are the ones under the most amount of stress and terror. They are the ones who will be most affected by the dangerous rhetoric encircling our nation ever since June 2015, when our now-president-elect announced his candidacy. You know the type of rhetoric I’m talking about. One ‘classic’ example embodies the same narrative that appeared at a high school just the other day), in which students chanted, “Build the wall! Build the wall!” within a middle school cafeteria.  It’s the rhetoric that allows many Americans to believe that every Muslim-american is representative of the radical Islamic terrorism movement.  It is the rhetoric that allowed a black man at Chili’s to have his food removed by a manager.  (After further inquiry, it was discovered that the food was removed as a Trump supporter reported the man (inaccurately) for not actually being a veteran.  Apparently, it was beyond his comprehension that a hard-working, veteran black does does, indeed, exist).  It’s why graffiti reminiscent of Nazi-Germany has now cropped up across the nation, meant to scare the very people who now must fear for their lives.  It’s why the LGBTQ community is also fearful for their lives, including the fear that comes along with Mike Pence having power in the White House, with his anti-gay and bigoted beliefs.

I don’t mention these disgusting forms of racism just for the sake of doing so. No one (I should hope, at least) is in any danger of forgetting them.  No one is ignoring the extreme headlines (since journalism is now deciding to smarten up a bit..) as they scroll across your television. I mention them, because each of these dangerous ideas (best characterized under the alt-right movement), represents the danger that this man and his dangerous posse represent: that our most vulnerable members of society, our minority populations, are now under extreme scrutiny.  This is true even more so than before, since the president-elect has written a blank check to be cashed across America.  This blank check allows oppression to continue, as a result of his divisive campaign that was riddled with racism, hatred, and xenophobia– not just the misogyny that haunts us white feminists.  Chances are, if you identify as a feminist, you chose this title—and, while that’s okay, we need to remember that we are not nearly the most threatened in society, especially now.

With this long winded explanation behind us: I implore you, the white feminists, to take the next four years (or, God help us, possibly the next eight) to recognize when your cause may need to take a backseat to someone else’s life.  After all, being able to choose a cause is a privilege in itself.

White women, fight for those that don’t have a choice in the matter, now or ever.  Fight for those that will now hear state of the unions from a president-elect who represents the very hurdles that our beloved marginalized populations have struggled to overcome through our nation’s history.  Fight for those that need our fight, although you may need to detract some energy from the white feminist cause.  And, let us also remember: If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. -Desmond Tutu

One way to get involved is with the Injustice Boycott, organized by Journalist Shaun King.  It begins on December 5th, 2016.  On September 29th of this year, the organizer posted this on the movement’s Facebook page: “On December 5th, 2016 we will launch the largest boycott in modern American history. This date was chosen because it is the same date that our ancestors began the 381 day long Montgomery Bus Boycott. It is going to take that same type of determination and organization for us to actually make this boycott count.”

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