Race, feminism and the importance of intersectionality

From what we’ve seen in history, exclusion and oppression often lead to resistance. Feminism as a movement is highly criticized. It is hard to simply define feminism, as it is argued what it even means.

It has different meanings for different people. If you are currently sneering at the paper while you skim this, it may be that feminism is wrong to you.

To many, feminism is what Susan B. Anthony started and what Lena Dunham is doing now. For others, Susan B. Anthony did not speak for them and they had to define their own feminism.

It is hard to define how a whole race feels on the matter. While I feel I am educated on the matter, you can never actually put yourself in someone else’s shoes.

I’ll tell you what I know is fact. Susan B. Anthony and other women’s rights pioneers fought for women. White women. They cast women of color aside, saying “you’ll get your turn later.”

Women of color have had to fight for themselves in America since the nation’s creation. That battle continues now.

When talking to some of my black female friends, I find that they do not identify with white women’s roots of feminism.

Their role models in the movement fought the battle of sexism and racism. Those issues are not separate for them.

Patricia Hill Collins defined Black Feminism as “a school of thought which argues that sexism, class oppression, gender identity and racism are inextricably bound together.” Many of the issues Black Feminism fought for when it first was keyed in the 1960s are still present.

As of 2013, white women were paid 78 cents to men’s dollar. Black women were paid 64 cents, and Hispanic women were paid 54. Many black women feel they must prove themselves more than other women. They have to work three times as hard to get to the same vantage point as a white woman.

When asking my friend to contribute to this piece, she said that one thing she would like to accomplish for black women is tearing down stereotypes. She said she could not tell me how many times a white person would comment on how “well spoken” she is.

She mentioned that growing up, her white friends said they thought of her as white, because she didn’t act like the stereotype they had in their head. Race is ever present in our society. Unfortunately, you can’t just ‘not see color.’

The main issue with white feminism is the exclusion of intersectionality. The privilege we have as white people makes it easy to just focus on issues for women.

Black feminism looks at race, class, gender, LGBTQ+ and other issues. For many people, an issue crosses many borders in their life.

As a young person, you must ask yourself what are you doing in your community. The problems last beyond the marches for many of these women. It is an everyday struggle, and we all must act.

There are many good ways to make changes in your life to promote equality. Volunteering with your local grassroots organizations, taking part in political campaigns, do not forget about the 2018 election and broaden your perspective.

What is going on in your community, even if it doesn’t affect you, and how can you promote or change it?

Feminism is meant for all people. Practice patience. Practice love. Ask when you do not understand.

As a white woman, I cannot begin to understand everything another race or gender goes through. It isn’t bad to admit ignorance on a subject and seek knowledge on it.

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