Friday, April 25, 2008

Quick Post: Privilege and Feminists of Color

I am a white feminist, white because of my appearance, anyway, and some of the recent debates going on in the feminist blogosphere between white feminists and feminists of color have been upsetting. I will admit that I did not understand my privilege until I became a feminist, and now it is something that I am struggling to better understand and do something with. I believe that I can be useful in my privileged position, somehow, and I am going to start by listening even more carefully to all feminists who are less privileged than I am (thanks to Outcrazyophelia for the advice). If more white feminists did this, think of the progress we could make for all women.

I may have a harder time understanding the full extent of the intersectionality between gender and race, but that doesn't mean I'm blind to it. I may not always personally feel its effects, but I am aware of it, and being aware of it allows me to listen.

Refusal to hear the voices of feminists who don't look like you will accomplish very little. I want that to end.

We can be united under feminism without having to be the same people. Differences in lived experience did not create this split, its the valuing of the white, able bodied, heterosexual experience over others that brought us to this point. - Outcrazyophelia


La Pobre Habladora said...

Yeah, I was blown away by her comment too - I just spent nearly an hour responding to it on my own site.

Here is one thing I didn't mention, though. In most situations, you do not define your race. It is other people's perceptions of you that give you privilege, or take those privileges away. That can be confusing for many of us who identify with more than one ethnicity. It is a nasty realization that people are responding to you differently when they perceive your 'otherness,' or when you suddenly get that question, "wait - where are you from?" (Translation: Wait - you aren't one of them, are you?)

Jen said...

There's so many intersections of privilege that I find it hard to navigate them too. For instance, the differences in privilege between a black woman and a poor white lesbian is much different than the differences in privilege between a black woman and a middle income white woman.

I think that people just need to keep in mind that the way they interpret the world around them is colored by their privilege, and when someone points that out the appropriate response is not to deny it or attack the accuser.

Kandee said...

Hear hear. Well said.

...or that there is a difference of experience between a poor black woman and a middle class black woman (same for any other WOC) and those differences inform the way in which we respond to each other. This has been a sticky mess. I hope some progress can come of this.