Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Letter to White Feminism

Dear White Feminists: Why do you keep doing this to us?

You. Yeah, you over there.

Why is it that when women of colour share their pain with you, you can’t help but make it about yourselves?

You are able to see that when men turn feminist concerns into whining about their own existence that it is derailing, that they should not be making it about them, yet when your sisters of colour call you out for your bad behaviour, you get defensive and tell us we are too angry or not nice enough or not polite enough or how we should be more like honey and not vinegar. 

You tell us we’re divisive, that we are causing fractures among women who should stand together, that we are a threat to solidarity, when it is your bad behaviour and failure to take responsibility for it that fails the movement. We are allies of convenience for you: we are welcome and lauded when we speak up and add our voices to yours, but when we rightfully dissent we are a burden. When we stand up for ourselves as you do against patriarchy, when we stand up and tell you that the colour of our skin makes the burden of patriarchy even heavier, you tell us we are distracting from  work on more important issues.

When one of us stands alone and speaks about this, we are told this is their own private personal problem. When we stand together and speak about this, when one coloured voice is added to another, we are told we are ganging up on you, when you just innocently did not know any better, when your other coloured friend said it was okay for your to act this way, and you ask us why we are being bullies and if we could just stop being so mean.

You recognize the toxicity of #NotAllMen and the validity of #YesAllWomen but stay willfully blind to #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. The irony of #NotAllWhiteFeminists flies over your head.

On one side, where you see patriarchy, you fight against tone-policing, recognizing it for the derailing tactic that it is. On the other side, the side where we stand with you, you use tone-policing to silence us.

The thing is, you need us more than we need you. Each and every one of us have lived a lifetime of intersecting oppressions. We all share similar wounds from patriarchy, but those of us who are not white have dealt with those wounds while at the same time nursing our injuries from a world that is just as racist as it is misogynist. Our army is stronger, because we have had to be. So when it comes time to really fight against the oppressive systems that hold us down, you’re the ones who will be left behind, because you think that our concerns distract from your cause when in fact they make the movement stronger. 

It does not have to be this way. 
You are capable of empathy. 
You are capable of learning about intersectionality. 
You are capable of being a real ally.

Now go do something about it.


  1. I'm going to be honest and admit that I skimmed this when I first saw it submitted. "Another letter," I thought, "those are so overdone." Plus, I didn't want to be made uncomfortable. I'd rather stick my head in the sand and let other people deal with issues.
    But I saw this was passed through to voting, and I wanted to be diligent and read. And I'm glad I did. Because even if I've never tried to shut down a woman of color as she protests, I'm not helping by ignoring it. Thanks for opening my eyes, pushing me out of my comfort zone, telling me something I needed to hear.