April 1st will mark the 184th anniversary of the opening of Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color in 1833. A private school in Canterbury, CT, held exclusively for young Black girls and created by a White woman named Prudence Crandall. Risking her career and social standing, she admitted the first Black student in her school two years prior in 1831, which sparked public outrage which only motivated her to take it a step further. Acknowledged in Angela Davis’s book “Women, Race, & Class”, Prudence’s use of privilege to fight against racism was a prime example of what intersectional feminism should look like. First opening her school in 1831, same year as the Nat Turner rebellion, it was hard to ignore the racial climate as it were. It’s interesting when looking at the past versus current day issues and the participation of White women against social injustice. Where are our true allies?
We watch White feminism at work from celebrities who dismiss or fail to understand the intersections of being a woman as well as a person of color in addition to sexual identity. Beyoncé, a living legend in her own right, continues to receive negative criticisms just for being a proud, talented, woman who is unapologetically Black. We head to the marches and see White women who voted for Trump try to create this façade of unity. Same women go home to their families and say immigrants should be deported or how Black Lives Matter movement is racist. Comediennes make racially offensive jokes under the guise of comedy political incorrectness meanwhile appropriating our culture in failed attempts to be humorous. White actresses who steal leading roles originally designed for WOC (women of color) without any sense of cultural sensitivity or morality. Scarlett Johansson’s casting in Hollywood remake of Japanese anime Ghost in the Shell raises eyebrows as Asian actors once again get overlooked in casting. I watched the movie Suffragette and my lack of interest increased as the film went on because all I saw were White women as if WOC didn’t exist in the Suffrage movement. I found it all to interesting when it was in fact WOC whose contributions helped these movements progress. We saw viral pics of editor/writer rooms of sites like Huffington Post and shows like OITNB with not one drop of color yet content based on the experiences of POC. This fascination yet social ostracism is quite befuddling to Black women and WOC who long for successful careers and opportunities in these very fields.
“That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? …”
Women like Sojourner Truth and her “Ain’t I A Woman?” speech addressed White feminism and its erasure of WOC.
In the fight against gender inequality, privilege and oppression intersect in cases where a White woman refuses to hire a Black woman because of her hairstyle. When a Black woman releases pro-Black art in form of music, film, or theater, think-pieces are written about lack of White representation without acknowledging the pro-White industries that deny artists of color, opportunities and recognition. Our AAVE and culture is co-opted by White artists and advertised to White consumers who appropriate our culture as well. In a sense, an underground well of influence for them to fill buckets from as they walk back to their “house” to satisfy the thirst of exotic entertainment. It’s offensive to hear our slang and see our style copied while our women go missing or killed by law enforcement without so much as a peep from this same crowd. It just seems as if White women only come for the food but never the sermon. Never speaking out against the oppression their sisters face, rather fight to be side by side with White men. Slut-shaming, body-shaming and tone-policing instead of using their privileges to help is just history repeating itself. Where are the daughters and granddaughters of the White folks who joined in the civil rights movement? Where did the descendants of activists and abolitionists vanish to and why hasn’t the call for social justice create an overwhelming response from them? It would seem as if majority of White women wanted equal rights but remain oblivious to intersections of oppression WOC face intentionally or unintentionally because perhaps… it was never a concern. Unfortunately, it’s possible to be pro-women yet hold onto the societal ills of racism and classism as a security blanket. Some deep down don’t want to share their wealth, prosperity and facilities with people of color including their own gender. One must ask……Where are the allies?