To My Friends Who Are White Women
This message is for my liberal friends who are White women in response to Roe v Wade being overturned. This post is intended with the utmost respect and sincerity.
I am not saying this to make you feel bad or to be a bully. You may be liberal-leaning, but some of your reactions to this very shocking ruling are problematic.
I have seen countless posts from White people, mainly White women, saying that Black women should be doing more with Roe V Wade being overturned.
Mostly because we have more experience with oppression and fighting for our rights, such as BLM fighting for Black men to survive police encounters.
Or being upset with Black women for ‘gatekeeping’ our resources. Here are some examples of what I mean:
Black women are often excluded from feminist agenda items. When we speak on many of these cases, we experience gaslighting and tone policing from the women who initially asked for advice.
So maybe you can understand Black women’s hesitancy to stick our neck out for the ‘the greater good’ once again.
If you are truly interested in one Black woman’s opinion on what I believe to be offensive instead of an effective protest, then this article is for you.
But I think we must combat these issues before we can move forward to help ALL women.
I am seeing much of this outrage in 1 of 2 camps:
Camp 1: Let’s do something about this, even if we shit on people of color simultaneously.
Ladies, this is not okay. I know you think we are supposed to “stick together” in times like this.
And I agree! But that means being inclusive and sensitive to the plight of other women who are not White. Here are some examples:
1. Saying women should kneel during the National anthem
Girl…were you kneeling when Black women were doing this? Or were you complaining about them “disrespecting the flag”?
And let’s say, for example, that you were kneeling as a type of camaraderie with your fellow Black Americans being unjustly killed by law enforcement.
Then you should know that this act of protest is already representing another cause that you will now be pulling attention away from. You trying to do it now is colonizing.
2. Posting imagery of The Handmaid’s Tale or making references to the United States becoming “the real Gilead”
Now, this may come as a surprise to some of you, but the author of the Handmaid’s Tale pulled everything for the book from things that already happened to women in history to create this work of fiction.
Do you know where a lot of it came from? Slavery in the United States. Women were legally raped.
They had no status to be called Miss or Mrs., so they were called Aunts. And there was definitely an Underground Railroad for those who wanted to escape.
While slavery was some time ago, there are still many remnants of this history that lingers in our society of White supremacy. Alluding to the US “becoming” this after the Supreme Court banned abortion is the ultimate sign of privilege.
The United States was (is) already a dystopian nightmare for women of color.
There are many other examples of White women speaking out while simultaneously excluding or downright shitting on people of color. But I think this is enough for the sake of this post. I know ya’ll mean well, but this is not okay.
Camp 2: I won’t fight, but I will retreat
I remember seeing so many of your posts about how proud you were of the women who were sticking around to fight in the war in Ukraine. But as soon as things get a little hot here, many White women are talking about escaping the United States.
I keep seeing sentiments to the tone of “What can I do to move?” “How do I get out of this before I have no rights at all?”
As a Black woman who has marched, voted, and worked my hardest to convince racists, bigots, and other difficult people why what they say and do hurts others and our country – to see White women not even try is the ultimate insult.
Let’s Talk About Elections
Did you know that during the 2016 election between Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, 94% of voting-age Black women came out to vote for Hilary Clinton? 94%!
Now think about that. How do you think that happened? Some Black women are more conservative-leaning, pro-life advocates, and plenty do not think their votes matter at all and rarely vote.
How did we manage to get 94% of us to vote? I will tell you how. We did the work.
All of us had those difficult conversations with family members with different beliefs than our own. We convinced those who don’t usually vote to vote.
If you think these were comfortable conversations for us, you are delusional. It took great effort, tears, falling-outs, and drama to accomplish this.
Do you think Black women thought Hilary Clinton would be our savior and solve all of our issues? NOPE! Did we think she was a perfect candidate? HELL NO!
But we knew she was a much better candidate than Donald Trump. And we fought like hell to make sure those around us knew that. THAT is how we managed to get 94% of us to turn out.
No Ifs, Ands, or Buts
For those of you who think Donald Trump being elected as president is a separate issue, Trump appointed not 1 or 2 but 3 of the Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of Roe v Wade being overturned–regardless of the trimester of pregnancy.
Now, if you are thinking to yourself, but I DID vote for Hilary. Why am I included in this message? Ah, good question. And the fact that you are asking it is in itself the problem.
You are still thinking about YOU instead of thinking about WE.
We live in a very individualist society – well, you do, at least. And this, I believe, is why 54% of White women voted for Trump.
On the other hand, we Black folks are used to looking out for each other because we know how hard it is, how dangerous things can get, and how hurtful even some of our more well-meaning White counterparts can be.
And this is something that sets us apart. You must think about WE, as in all women, instead of you.
What you CAN do
I know that was probably a lot to take in. And it may feel like a tough pill to swallow, especially while you are still coping with your rights slowly being taken away. And you may be wondering, is this the appropriate time to bring this up?
The answer is YES! This is the absolute best time to bring this up. Because if we want to change – a real change, we need to be able to hold a mirror up to ourselves as a society and figure out what elements that are within our control are failing. Only after we do that can we make lasting changes.
So what SHOULD you be doing right now?
Are you aware of what the overturning of Roe v Wade actually means? it affects more than just those who want abortions. Are you familiar with the abortion laws in your area?
Do you know all the ways this could impact women? Do you know what workarounds you still have available to you? Know your stuff because you will be tested!
Remember when I said 94% of Black women voted for Hilary Clinton? Well, again, 54% of White women voted for Trump. AKA, the majority of White women voted for Trump.
It’s not enough for you to vote if you are not doing the work to educate others around you about how their votes impact everyone. And when you have these discussions, you must be ready with facts.
I cannot state how important this one act is. I know it may seem scary and uncomfortable because propaganda in the United States makes it socially impolite to talk about politics – especially with those who have opposing views to your own. But it is necessary.
This propaganda was established because we are easier to control when we are not talking and organizing. Talk to EVERYONE and let them know your thoughts on the best way to vote in the upcoming mid-term election.
If you are upset about Roe v Wade, consider researching organizations already fighting oppression. Because whether or not you feel like their cause affects you, fighting oppression for marginalized groups fights oppression for all people.
There are articles on how to do this here, here, and here. Also, don’t make posts about how you are distraught and do not know what to do.
The only thing there is to do is fight. Not sure how to fight? Do some research and read a book.
Learn About Other Injustices Affecting Women of Color in the US
I know I spoke extensively here about things that have bothered me in this movement. But if you call yourself a feminist, you should fight for ALL women’s rights, not just white women’s.
I’d like to encourage you to do more research on the current struggles of Black women and other BIPOC women so that you can make better decisions on how to be an advocate for all women. A few books I love on the subject include:
- Bad Feminist by Roxanne Gay
- Don’t Call Me Inspirational: A Disabled Feminist Talks Back by. Harilyn Rousso
- Women, Race & Class by Angela Davis
- Lifting as We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box by Evette Dionne
I want to leave you all with a famous quote you may know by Martin Niemöller.
First, they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
For those of you who do not know, this is a poem by a German priest from Nazi Germany about how he felt “good people” were complicit in everything that happened during that time.
Think of yourself in this moment.
There have been protests for the Black Lives Matter movement, migrant women having forced hysterectomies without their knowledge or consent, and Asian women being accosted and abused in the streets due to an uptick in hate crimes. Native American women went missing in large numbers with limited media coverage or police investigation, and many more.
What were you DOING during these events?
Were you just as outraged as you are right now? How many times have you educated yourself and others or did something about it?
How often have you let someone close to you say something offensive and excused it because they are “just a product of their time and/or environment”?
These are all symptoms of a bigger problem. What I am saying here is that White women, you have had your heads in the sand, and it’s time to wake up.
Not because it’s a fad or because it involves you now. But because the very essence of our country is on the line here.
This is not the best you can do.
And us Black women will keep doing our thing. We hope you decide to do yours.