Today, I have been thinking about feminism and intersectionality. There’s lots of good–and some perhaps-not-so-good–commentary on the webs these days about the Women’s March coming up in a few weeks. While I don’t want to leap blindly onto any new bandwagon that comes along, I also want to lend my voice to a gathering movement for equal rights for all people, one that recognizes–hopefully–that the leadership roles and the power to shape the movement must be held by women of color. By all means include white women in the work of advancing feminism, but for too long we have allowed the veils of privilege to keep us ignorant of the full range of women’s experiences, and I think it is time and more than time for white women to take the listening role. Here are some ways that white women can position ourselves within the movement.
1. Be listeners. Listen to the stories of women of color.
2. Believe. When we talk about abuse, we say that one of the things we need to do is to believe women when they speak their stories. This applies here, too: When women of color speak about the pain and anger and frustration, believe them, even (particularly) when it is about racism.
3. Avoid the day’s common default response of outrage and huffiness. When women of color have something to say about their experiences or about how they have been treated by white women, don’t get miffed. This prevents listening. Let’s just skip the defensive posture, open our ears, and reach out our hands. How else will we hear truth?
4. Put the power and energy of our inherent privilege to the use of the movement, and to our sisters of color. Offer our sisters whatever power and leverage we are able to create from our own privileged positions.
5. When I was a teenager, and my mother was trying to train me to be a more engaged participant in the life of our household, she pushed me to keep asking, “What can I do next?” That’s a good question for us, too. “What can I do?” Instead of, “I think you should. . .”
6. Be ready to keep learning.
I like Shishi Rose‘s take on the subject.
1. Layers. Layers of clothing on a cold day. Layers of ideas. Layers of caring and concern.
2. The bowl is big enough to hold us all.
3. The color pink. I am finding a new appreciation for pink. I am starting to wear more grandmotherly pinks and roses and beige. That’s okay. I need the gentleness of rose right now, and the ferocity of fuschia.
4. Arundathi Roy and Vandana Shiva. Look up quotations by them on GoodReads.
5. Baked oatmeal with blueberries for supper.
May we walk in Beauty!