They love being all about women until it's about black women.
— kid fury (@KidFury) July 21, 2015
Modern feminism has been a problematic movement since its inception. Starting in the first-wave, an overwhelming number of white women have discarded women of color in an attempt to create and maintain a world that benefits their own. While many believe this myopic ideology is becoming extinct, it seems to be ever-present, running rampant throughout mainstream white feminism.
In a string of tweets, Nicki Minaj charred MTV and the entire music industry for their lack of recognition of black female artists and their influence over the industry. After Taylor Swift attempted to “defend herself” from what she saw as an attack on her nomination, she utilized her recently learned feminism to criticize Minaj for her what she assumed to be divisive tactics. Those who have been curious as to whether or not Swift’s feminism was spoonfed to her by problematic white feminists have their theories confirmed — it was. Her condescending response and quickness to center herself in a struggle black women are facing exemplifies the biggest problem with white feminism — the lack of intersectionality.
I'm not always confident. Just tired. Black women influence pop culture so much but are rarely rewarded for it. https://t.co/2xOvJzBXJX
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) July 21, 2015
By definition, feminism focuses on social, political and economic equality for all women and men; that includes black women. While it might seem redundant to insist upon black women’s place in feminism, it is necessary because of the constant denial we face.
The “isms” affecting black women are, at minimum, dual: sexism and racism.
So often, black feminists are urged by white feminists to check their race at the door, with white feminists insisting that sexism trumps racism. They are told that because of that, black women should direct most of their energy to fighting the patriarchy. However, black women are unable to physically divorce their identities. When we walk down the street, people don’t just see a woman, they see a black woman. Because of that, we must fight against white supremacy and the patriarchy, two systems affecting both our pay and the stereotypes surrounding us. Despite the literature written on intersectionality, white feminism frequently overlooks the struggles black women face, showing minimal solidarity. Instead, they insist on branding feminism as something that is wholly theirs, void of major critique on racial injustice and racist discord.
Let me be clear, I don’t think Taylor Swift is racist, I think she is a white feminist.
Taylor Swifts tweets are real examples of why #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen is not only needed, but relevant. White feminists seem to be more interested in freeing their nipples than a black woman’s right to inquire why she is being arrested. As a collective unit, mainstream feminists don’t vocally advocate for the right for black girls to live. Instead, they seem to be in a frenzy over the release of Amy Schumer’s new movie.
Many have called for Swift’s critics to lighten up, suggesting that there is no such thing as a perfect feminist. They are right, there is no such thing as a perfect feminist. However, being a “bad feminist” does not mean that you are allowed to ignore the struggles of black women. It does not mean that you can center your feelings in a discussion about a racist system that you benefit from. It does not mean that you can ignore the rampant police brutality aimed at the bodies of black women.
You don’t get to pick and choose which things you want equality in. If you are going to label yourself a feminist, you must advocate for equality for all, regardless of race.
This means freedom from homophobia, xenophobia, racism, sexism and classism. This means that you must push back against narratives that have a tendency to paint white women as victims and black women as jezebels, regardless of their crime. This means that you must advocate for the livelihood of transwomen who are so often overlooked by mainstream media because of transphobia.
We didn’t ask for these systems of oppression to be created. But you [white feminists] asked to be a part of a movement that, by definition, is supposed to fight for all types of equality for all women. So stop being choosy of what you speak on and start embodying what feminism is all about.
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