White men, White women, Black men and others are desperate to try silence Black and other women of colour’s critiques of White supremacist mainstream feminism (especially around these areas: blatant racism/White supremacy, specific individualized abuse, plagiarism, labor exploitation and marginalization in discourse). The same old lies, distortions and insults surface. I’ve discussed this via Twitter (@thetrudz, @GradientLair) and Storify in the last few days, and here’s what I’ve said:
A lot of harm occurs on an individual level. Systems, structures and institutions support it. But when an individual harms women of colour, I care. You cannot claim to reject White supremacy and then when individual Whites harm women of colour, you overlook it. Make your theory become praxis. And individual incidents of Whites being able to harm with impunity are instances of White supremacy. Addressing them remains critical.
But this LIE persists: Critique White supremacy, generically = “activism.” Critique individual with White supremacy supporting that individual = must want White “approval.”
Critiquing via theory is great for foundation. But it means NOTHING until you stand up for others, when the theory becomes life. Oh and, critical theories couldn’t have existed without actual life happening. So don’t parse here where avoiding real incidents = “being deep.”
Black men/men of colour who don’t care how Deen, Schwyzer and others harm Black women/women of colour, your “allyship” isn’t needed. You’re dismissed. But of course they don’t care. Let them break a nail though. Black women will be demanded to organize a Sally Hansen rally for their asses. Not interested in your generic critiques and then when something actually goes down, you’re ghost. And the obtuse liars who’ll claim that I don’t critique intraracial issues among Black people because I critique White supremacy among Whites now? Whatever…
Telling Black women to allow labor exploitation for “justice” is NOT critiquing capitalism. Labor exploitation is KEY to capitalism. Accepting exploitation as proof of your “goodness” is a fool’s mantra. Just because I don’t desire Whites’ money/attention doesn’t mean that Whites have a right to exploit my labor or target other Black women/women of colour.
Patriarchal Black people will claim that critique of White feminism = Black women want White “acceptance.” I will tell you ONCE GODDAMN MORE. I critique ANY racism. And spare me from the ignorance of "if you critique racism outside of feminism that’s good, but inside feminism means you want their acceptance."
Some Black men (and others, honestly) have to be honest when their feminist praxis includes stereotypes, even faux positive ones of “strong Black woman,” which makes them ignore Black women’s pain. If you call yourself an ally to Black women and other women of colour, why does what we say/think/feel/express not matter to you?
And as I’ve mentioned to White women many times, I don’t want a seat at your table. I want you to stop setting fire to my table in a different room in a different house that you try to rob. Again, most of those in the margins do not critique mainstream White feminism because we want acceptance. Nope. Never did. We want any oppression to stop.
Here are some common derailment tactics that surface whenever women of colour critique mainstream White feminism:
- People of colour (sadly) will state "that’s what y’all get" for aligning with feminism versus Black patriarchy/theist patriarchy. As if women of colour don’t add our voices to feminist discourse and shape it, even as credit is denied. Thus, critiquing mainstream feminism does NOT then mean that kyriarchy is “good.”
- The Black women among the women of colour are told that we are “siding” with White women against Black men. LIE. Black women have been the ONLY true supporters of Black men and critique White women’s racism/White supremacy often. (I have addressed this complaint before. And “support” from White women is not sex. Black men will posit this as evidence, while Zimmerman’s jury versus Black women before, Ida B. Wells herself and Black women after Wells have supported Black men).
- White women will claim that any critique of White supremacy and racism “harms” feminism. I’m pretty sure that White supremacy and racism themselves, not the critiques, harms feminism and absolutely anything/anyone else.
- Primarily Black people will give the "well women of colour ‘only’ critique White feminists and should’ve ‘known’ that they are racist" line, being willfully ignorant about the fact that women of colour deconstruct, critique, reject and fight oppression in many spheres, not only amidst feminism.
- White men (and some men of colour) will posit the notion that it is just “liberal squabbling” or “the little women not being able to get along.” This partisan and misogynistic derailment is the least intellectually complex of them all. And who are men to critique “getting along” with their atrocious male-to-male violence rates, war, imperialism and genocide? Please.
- Sadly, sometimes other women of colour who are stuck on The Help feel that we should be coddling and catering to White women’s racism and never critique it as the only way to build “solidarity.”
- People of a variety of backgrounds will suggest that any criticism of systematic oppression is just the oppressed being “jealous” of the oppressors. These people needs library cards, asap.
I reject racism in any form. The idea that I only critique it among White feminists because I want acceptance is about as ignorant as claiming that I want to have a show on Fox News because I critique their sexism and racism.
Because many people couldn’t silence us in the last few days and @Karynthia's (she started it) #solidarityisforwhitewomen, some of them lost their shit! And worse, some of these people genuinely call themselves allies to women of colour!
The truth is, White men, White women and Black men have a lot invested in preserving White supremacy insofar as how it relates to White women and their womanhood being centered as most important. Many Black men reject racism up until White women are the perpetrators and Black women/women of colour are the targets. I don’t consider them or anyone who does this an ally.
“If you are silent about your pain, they’ll kill you and say you enjoyed it.” - Zora Neal Hurston
"Your silence will not protect you." - Audre Lorde
“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.” - Alice Walker