Amy Poehler has recently been reprimanded by the media for featuring a joke about R&B singer R. Kelly urinating on Blue Ivy, Beyoncé’s child, in her upcoming show, Difficult People. The joke, which is spoken by Julie Klausner’s character, perpetuates the rape-culture plaguing Western societies and is bizarre, due to Poehler’s self-prescribed identity as a feminist. But, in the context of white feminism, her editorial behavior is nothing short of mundane.

White feminists have a tendency to use black women as props in their pursuit for gender equality.

In 2014, British singer Lily Allen was criticized for her music video, “Hard Out Here.” The song, which was meant to denounce the frequent reduction of women to nothing more than sexual objects, featured mostly black women, gyrating. As a self-proclaimed feminist, Allen released the song to rebuke culture-fueled sexism that cheapens women’s self-worth — suggesting that they are nothing more than sex objects or props. While the message of this song is certainly meaningful, the music video alters the true intention behind the lyrics because it features mostly black women gyrating and twerking in the background. Allen’s video ignores black women’s worth and focuses on their asses. Like Allen’s “Hard Out Here,” Poehler is using a black girl, Blue Ivy, as nothing more than a piece of a joke that is bound to get a few laughs.

In action, white feminism ignores other forms of marginalization affecting women of color. They fail to recognize that women of color do not experience sexism the same way they do. White feminism is truly only concerned with freeing cis middle-class white woman from their single bond: sexism. They deny the extent to which women of color experience racism, transphobia and ableism. And, unfortunately, they are the faces people see when they hear about feminism in mainstream media. White feminists like Poehler, Allen and Taylor Swift are suffocating feminist spaces for women of color to reside peacefully.

White feminists love to peddle the all-inclusive definition of feminism: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. But they do not abide by their own philosophy. White feminists love to tell men to “check their privilege” when it comes to sexism, but when it comes to racism or transphobia, they rebuff all criticisms directed towards them. What they fail to realize is that, even when it is not intentional, their actions are damaging and degrading women of color. Black women’s perceptions is black women’s reality. Black women’s lived experience is much more valuable than white feminists perceptions. So instead of denying your racist actions, recognize that what you are doing and saying is real and devastating to women of color all over the world. Realize that calling out women for their racism and transphobia is not a form of pitting women against each other. It is an authentic attempt to derail a narrow form of feminism.

Stop centering your whiteness — get real and get intersectional. 


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