Advertisements

A Year in Review: The Top 10 Most Racist/Privileged Things White Feminists Did in 2014

Mainstream Feminism

snapchat image c/o Noelle @ http://bedragonned.tumblr.com

 

As December is drawing to a close and January looms near threatening to bury all of our indignant rage under a pile of tax refund dollars and unfulfilled resolutions, I feel that tugging urge to remind you of all the legitimate reasons white feminists have given us to stay pissed right on into the new year.

Since last year’s list was such a hit, I’ve decided that I can think of no better way to round off my country’s annual season of over-consumption than to present you with the gift of my second annual Year in Review: The Top 10 Most Racist/Privileged Things White Feminists Did this year. Here’s how our white feminist allies decided to show their solidarity in 2014:

 

Holtzclaw

rapist and Oklahoma City Police officer, Daniel Holtzclaw

1) Black women have been under assault all year, giving white feminists plenty of opportunities to use their extensive resources and privilege in allyship with them. Alarmingly, the white feminist bloggersphere has been so quiet about so many assaults on black women this year, I almost thought I heard an echo.

One such incident involves Oklahoma City Police officer Daniel Holtzclaw who has been charged with 32 counts of rape, sexual assault, stalking and sodomy against 13 victims, exclusively targeting working class black women with histories of sex work. He was released on bail on Sept 5th with the help of Judge Tim Henderson who reduced Holtzclaw’s bail from $5 million to $500,000. Adding injury, Holtzclaw, who is already on paid leave, has become the hero figure of a social media campaign with over 800 Facebook supporters, t-shirts being sold at $25 a piece, and a GoFundMe page which raised more than $7000 for the rapist.

freetheclaw

GoFundMe has since removed the campaign but that’s more than white feminists have done, who have remained completely silent on the case. Not so much as an angry blog, let alone a rally.

Perhaps they didn’t hear about it?

 

DanieleWattsCrying
2) Speaking of silent white feminists, it seems they also didn’t hear that Django Unchained actress Danielle Watts was racially profiled and illegally detained by racist police officers who assumed she was a sex worker. They got their tip from a baseless 911-call from an even more racist office-worker (I too was shocked that someone could be more racist than the LAPD) who saw her sitting on the lap of, and making out with, her white boyfriend in their car.

But a blurry set of photos from the bastion of journalistic integrity known as TMZ, (that still confirmed that her upper body was not exposed and that she was fully dressed), was somehow all some folks needed to turn their backs on Danielle.
kandi-eye-roll
White feminists, however, required even less “proof” than that, having never stepped up to defend Danielle in the first place.

 

Lady in Hiding - Romeo Downer

Lady in Hiding – Romeo Downer

3) Continuing the sexual assault trend was this year’s mass web-based sexual assault wherein the nude photos of hundreds of female celebrities where stolen, shared, and viewed online by thousands of sex offenders* (and, yes, you read me right, I am calling everyone who seeks out and intentionally views or shares these photos without the explicit consent of the women in them, sex offenders. EVERYONE. INCLUDING YOU. Moving on.)

jill Scott

Grammy Award-winning singer & actress, Jill Scott

White feminists lost their collective shit about heroine Jennifer Lawrence’s violation, occasionally making cursory mention of a number of other famous white women whose photos were also leaked and/or had commented on the leaks.

However, they conveniently forgot to support or even mention numerous black celebs who were hacked, most notably Jill Scott who was the subject of a particularly brutal Twitter-based attack taking jabs at her body size and shape that was going viral while white feminists focused on chastising folks not to look at JLaw.

The snub didn’t go unnoticed by black celebs either.

In fact, Emma Watson received more support from white feminists than folks like Jill Scott and Gabrielle Union did and photos of her were never actually even released. Because, I mean, obvi the threat of an attack is WAY more serious than an actual attack. Especially since Emma is a new white feminist darling.

 


4) Apparently Emma Watson is a “game changer” for feminism just by being white and saying stuff vaguely related to the feminisms. This is in spite of the fact that she offers zero analysis of the intersections of race (or trans and gender-non-conforming identities, class, and disability for that matter) with feminism at any point during her entire 11-minute speech. Even when she briefly referenced her own privilege, she somehow failed to mention how her existence as a white woman specifically colored her experiences.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and Lakshmi Puri

 

Why weren’t UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka’s or UN Women Deputy Executive Director Lakshmi Puri’s speeches on innovative ways to empower women-of-color survivors of sexual violence in conflict regions and engage them in the dismantling of said conflict regarded as game-changing?

Could it be because intersectional and well-researched commentary from even the most well-informed women-of-color will never outshine a pretty affluent white girl’s “My First Feminism” moment?

 

Sweatshop Women
5) In other “across the pond” news, noted UK-based feminists like Tracey Emin and Kirsty Wark as well as liberal and labor party leaders Harriet Harman, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have all been spotted in the “This is What A Feminist Looks Like” t-shirt that is so trendy, it has even graced the pages of Elle UK.

The shirt, which is made in a Mauritian sweatshop by Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, Indian and Vietnamese migrant women making around $1.04 an hour, is selling for around $70, or over a week’s salary.

The workers, who apparently “don’t feel like feminists” and see themselves as “trapped,” don’t seem to understand how empowering it is to share sleeping accommodations with 15 other women for 4-straight years while simultaneously not being allowed contact with their families.

I mean, talk about girl power.

 


6) On the topic of girl power, it’s become a favorite pastime of white feminists lately to draft exasperatingly ridiculous think-pieces on the newly columbused AAVE (African American Vernacular English) phrase “basic bitch” honoring the basicness of white girls everywhere and even going so far as demanding respect for the already highly respected.

The thing is, aside from their obvious lack of awareness of when and how the term actually came into use (hint: it wasn’t because of the Mean Girls movie franchise OR Kreayshawn), white girls actually have the definition completely wrong. Basic was not introduced as a slur directed at trend-thirsty middle-class white girls because real people don’t actually create slurs around your privilege.

UWrong

So what does “basic” or the less endearing “basic bitch” mean anyway? It’s the opposite of a bad bitch. It’s someone who ain’t about shit. It’s someone who is mistaken about how fly they actually are. It’s someone whose point of view is not to be respected. But most importantly, it’s generally used in reference to a black girl by other black people. It’s a nuanced and varied word that is one of a surprisingly large lexicon of black euphemisms that white feminists, and let’s face it white folks in general, have stolen..um, adopted while simultaneously having no idea what’s going on.

Basic was never intended to reference your damn pumpkin spice latte addiction.

So, the real reason white feminists and their friends should stop saying basic is because you appropriated it in the first place, not because it backfired in your faces and is now being used by other people like you to critique your bourgeois existence.

 

7) Who better to help us through a segue about cultural appropriation than Katy Perry, who missed the list last year in spite of that Geisha crap um…homage she whipped together for the American Music Awards
katygeisha
and a desire to literally skin japanese girls & wear them

…because it wasn’t until this year that she openly admitted to viewing herself as a feminist (though some would argue that she still seems pretty confused as to the definition).

katymummies

And she was just in time because her decision to include big booty mummies with giant red lips reminiscent of black face caricatures in an already appropriative “Egyptian-themed” set on during her world tour is a classic example of Katy’s special brand of cultural “appreciation.”

 

ladygagadreads

Singer Lady Gaga with dreads – never forget.

8) In other celebrity news, Feminist Icon ™ Lady Gaga played Tel Aviv in September despite ongoing protests calling for a boycott of Israel and Israeli-made goods by the Palestinian community who has been subject to their ongoing genocidal attacks and apartheid-like policies.

Although, considering her ticket price of $107 for nosebleed seats sitting in the grass, who wouldn’t want to spit in the face of a few thousand dead Palestinians?


Not that this is new for Gaga, she has a history of disregarding boycotts for racial justice. In 2010 she played a concert in Arizona despite repeated calls to cancel her concert there because of an unconstitutional immigration law encouraging the use of racial profiling to detain suspected undocumented immigrants.

 

SueyTweet
9) Those weren’t the only boycotts white feminists ignored. Suey Park’s brilliant #CancelColbert campaign, which began as a reaction to a racist sketch performed by feminist comedian Stephen Colbert (that was ironically intended to be a satirical commentary on racism), was not only ignored by white feminists but provoked a months long attack against her. Numerous articles were penned, more invested in protecting the privilege of a white male comedian than understanding how damaging Orientalism is, while Colbert fans inundated Suey’s Twitter with racist and misogynist slurs and death threats. Any white feminists who weren’t participating in the attacks themselves refused to comment on them at all.

(Though that’s probably because as soon as the attacks started and they realized they were on the same side as the bigoted bros and web bullies section of the internet they knew they had done something wrong.)


I think Satvika Neti put it best saying, “satire, as history has taught us, is supposed to mock the privileged classes, not the minorities. Satire is supposed to punch up at the oppressive social structure, not down at people who continue to be oppressed.”

The very reason The Colbert Report didn’t use the N-word and a joke about blackness in the sketch is because it would have been all too obvious in a post-civil rights era U.S. that that kind of satire is not amusing and in very poor taste.

South East Asians likely seemed like an easier target because their U.S. rights movements have been publicized less and their leaders less prominent than those of the Black community. Both Stephen Colbert AND those attacking Suey know this but admitting it would expose some very real racial bias and even a little self-hate inside of a lot of folks who aren’t quite ready to look at themselves in the mirror.

Well, you don’t get to be pissed at Suey Park because your “progressive” ass laughed at a racist joke and she broke your little world by calling you out on it. Do better.

 


10) I thought it might be prudent to finish this list off with an example of how you “do better”.

In yet another instance of white feminism gone awry, the good folks at Hollaback, an anti-street harassment movement, commissioned the heavily critiqued PSA above highlighting the experiences of a white woman walking through New York City. The problem is, in the 2 minute video, which contains excerpts of a 10-hour walk through a city that is itself 44-45% white, the only individuals who seem to be shown as harassers are black and latino men.

Fortunately, Hollaback followed up with a timely response and apology regarding the over-representation of men-of-color in their video.

Women-of-color demanded more, however, bringing up the lack of representation of trans and cis women of color in the video as a major issue especially considering their extreme vulnerability and danger in situations involving street harassment (especially trans women of color).

hollabackresponse

So they created this response video, detailing some of the ways that the intersection of gender and race informs their stories.

And do you know what Hollaback did? They apologized again, incorporating what they learned from this video into a more thorough response. They also committed the over $10k in donations brought in by the original video to create their own, more diverse video series.

Now THAT is how you gracefully accept a critique of your historic racial missteps and make yourself accountable to the communities you claim to serve.  I hope you’re all taking notes on this, it’s definitely going to be on the test.

 

———————————————————–

 

11!!! I’ve decided to add a little spice to your new year (because I hear white feminists don’t use very many spices), and mix the list up this time with a BONUS ENTRY!

It may surprise you to know that you don’t actually have to be white to be a White Feminist ™. People-of-Color who espouse white feminist principles, even to the detriment of their own culture and identity, can be White Feminists too! So without any further ado, I present to you, the Non-White White Feminist of the Year!


Pharrell “New Black” Williams decided this year that he is, indeed, a feminist after some speculation on his part as to whether or not a man can even be a feminist (trust me, Pharrell, you’re not the only unsure party in that debate).

Aside from coining new phrases to express his self-hatred while simultaneously implying that black folks “blame other races for our issues”, (a comment that makes one wonder why Pharrell thinks “Uncle Tom” is a “New” kind of black) Pharrell also showed his dedication to black uplift by calling recent victim of Fergurson, Missouri police violence, Mike Brown, a bully. Pharrell also said that the 18-year old, whose murder has prompted nationwide campaigns and protest amongst the black community and their allies, was asking for trouble.

pharrellwarbonnet

This phenomena should really surprise no one, especially considering the already interesting ways he’s honored other people of color this year, namely his alleged Indigenous American heritage, by donning a war bonnet on the cover of a fashion magazine.

With that kind of track record, one might wonder how Pharrell will be able to top this in the coming year. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. Until then…

 

 

* A friend brought to my attention that, “sex offender” is specifically a criminal legal term and may give the wrong impression. While I advocate the extreme shaming of those who think their curiosity (or any other reason they give themselves) is a valid excuse to violate the bodies and privacy of the women discussed herein, I want to make it clear that I do not and will never advocate for the ever expanding prison industrial complex as a solution to any of humanity’s many problems.

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About The Colored Fountain

The Colored Fountain is an activist in the Queer People of Color, Trans*, and Food Justice communities who writes radical-leaning essays, prose, and poetry, sometimes on radical-leaning topics but also, occasionally, on love and the quirky things one observes on NYC public transit. They are based in Brooklyn, NY.

16 responses to “A Year in Review: The Top 10 Most Racist/Privileged Things White Feminists Did in 2014”

  1. Nope kinda kid says :

    Look at all the white people being just absolutely offended.. A la, Now you know how poc feel. Get over yourselves! This article was written perfectly stating the obvious truths that people have been looking passed all these years. Are you really going tohide behind a kkeyboard and call a person of color “racist” because you don’t like the context of race they speak based on their own experiences? Really? Way to miss the point completely. Cognitive dissonance is real thing ya know..

  2. Isabella says :

    If you really wanted black and white feminists to be allies you wouldn’t be making fun of white girls in such a stereotypical way. Even if you’re not talking about my “pumpkin spice latte addiction” the way you’ve made it clear that you’re annoyed by our existence is sad. If a white feminist implied as many racist things as you have in this article, she’d be massacred. Two wrongs don’t make a right. Grow up.

    • wolfonakayak says :

      “Why aren’t you more polite? Why are you so angry? Why can’t you be more politically correct? Why are you critical of me when I’m just trying to help?”

      Isabella, I understand how it’s easy to get feathers ruffled by this perspective, but just like stopping traffic is just a minor symbolic way of reminding white people that “inconvenience” is a way of life for black people in the US, the “annoyed by our existence” she expresses in this article is just a tiny FRACTION of what she likely experiences every single day. She and every other black womon I have ever seen in my neighborhood–“annoyance” doesn’t begin to convey the attitude I’ve seen expressed toward some of my NEIGHBORS, who were doing NOTHING wrong!

      I am the white bystander but I am not willing to be the f’king bystander anymore. And in this case, I would just like to express some flat-out plain-old understanding … if she is pissed at everyone who looks like me, I’m not going to get an ego about it. I’m going to try to rip up the systems that made her life shove her toward feeling that way to begin with.

      • Isabella says :

        No matter what, being politically correct is the only way to gain respect and to be taken seriously. Once you start being a biggot and throwing insults around is when I start to become disinterested in anything you have to say and hold very little value to the argument. We’re not in the 5th grade here. Oh and you don’t have to remind me about racial tension, honey. Born in NYC and plan on dying here.

  3. Chica says :

    While white feminism is certainly a problem, you won’t solve it by putting up stuff that isn’t quite true/doesn’t fit.

    1) I know several white feminists whose strategy is to simply share and promote posts made by feminists of color. If a white feminist tries to write something herself about race, she tends to get a lot of backlash about silencing voices. So there is a perfectly acceptable reason for not speaking about it, as long as the white feminists support those who are from a positionality in which they can speak about it much better.

    2) Just plain not true. Black feminists were even criticizing her for minimizing the pain of those who actually have had such experienced. At this point your article rather lost any credibility.

    3) You contradict your own point. White celebrities who weren’t Jennifer Lawrence were ignored. It wasn’t a race issue, it was an issue of people only caring about America’s latest sweetheart.

    4) Because she’s a celebrity and they’re politicians? That’s the real difference there. We expect our politicians to speak about politics, not our celebrities known for playing witches. I’m fairly sure if it was reversed, say white politician Hilary Clinton and Indian actress Freida Pinto, the response would also have been different.

    5) Better to call it “First-World Feminism” then. Feminists of color fell to the same sin. Although in maybe 90% of feminists’ defense, since this issue wasn’t well publicized many may have been doing so from ignorance, not privilege. I did hear about it, but I do have a tendency to spend way too much time on sites that would cover issues like that.

    6) Citation please? I’ve never heard anyone claim that and I would think with the popularity of the word there would be several feminists of color talking about it…

    7) Yeah…I don’t think any feminists really want to claim her as a feminist. Passive not-really-feminism has become quite a bandwagon for celebrities to jump on unfortunately and most have no clue what they’re talking about.

    8) If I’m remembering correctly, Colbert was trying to make the racism against Native Americans more apparent by satirizing it with racism against Asians knowing it would be more obvious to people that way. So…he was actually supporting people of color. Sort of. I’m sure a creative mind like his should have thought of a better way of doing so, but he wasn’t nearly as problematic as you made it out to be.

    9) The editing…yeah that was just bad. Especially since in my personal experience at least, white boys tend to be worse at catcalling girls. But I’d hate to generalize like that though since that could quite possibly be bias (I’ve taken racial bias tests and apparently I do have a slight bias against white men). I feel like maybe white men feel a bit more entitled and that might be why?
    But the rest of it though. They only filmed one woman. Now if they kept doing videos and it was always cis&white women, then we’d have a problem.

  4. brainpimp says :

    I new low for intelligence. Being a native american actually in Oklahoma,I can see it’s clear you never even followed the Holtzclaw story. You get so many things incorrect it’s impossible you even followed the media accounts.

    You are just angry and there are no solutions for your problems. You are creating more anger not less.

    I feel pity for your self tortured soul.

  5. Justin says :

    First of all this is a fantastic article and it highlights the ways that I personally have been guilty of White Feministing. These articles are really needed, and really helpful in shedding light on how I (a white person) can do better.

    * * *

    I was interested in seeing the Hollaback’s response video but the link on this article is down. Tried finding it myself but I’m inept enough that I couldn’t locate it.

    HALP!

    -Justin

  6. Mary says :

    Part of the issue is that white feminists are constantly being given mixed messages about what they are “supposed” to do as allies. Unfortunately, I see so many comments directed to white women in feminist places along the lines of “stop making this about you…we dont need to hear from you because this is a black issue. We dont need you to speak for us…we dont need you to “save” us. Stop playing the “good white person” or the white savior.” And so on. They are told, as in the “Black Lives Matter” protests to refrain from speaking…because black voices matter.

    If they speak, they are wrong ( according to some) and if they dont speak they are wrong ( according to others) One can hardly blame them, then, for not knowing exactly what is required to be a good ally when the messages are so mixed.

    • wolfonakayak says :

      It is very hard to figure out how to be a white advocate, without being an obstacle. I think it’s hard for black people, too; they have had their voices silenced too many times, had white people step out in front of them and speak FOR them, had the solutions to their problems whitesplained to them–and yet equality does mean engaging with white allies, trying to trust us despite years of evidence that we can’t be trusted, trying to be appreciative when we bring in resources, while coping with natural anger at the fact that we are those who have, while for no damned reason they are those who have-not.

      I don’t have the answer, but there was one sign at the protest I went to two days ago that I think encapsulated the answer. A black woman was holding up the sign her son had made; it said “ASK ME.”

      That’s all I can do. Ask. What can I do to help? Be here? Be silent? Speak up? Speak to white people who won’t listen until it comes from another white person? Speak to black people to let them know that I support them? Speak only with my presence at the protests? Write the letters and call the government officials to advocate for change? Help block streets and inconvenience white society so much that they are forced to look at the problem–and see my white face in that crowd, as a reminder that Black Lives Matter is a requirement for the freedom of ALL people?

      The biggest weapon I have to offer against racism is not my voice, but my ears. Listening carefully and closely is the tool that lets me understand how my actions impact others; helps me understand what white privilege and black oppression really are; gives me the details, examples, context, and compassion to explain the problem to those who will listen only to someone like me.

    • sssssssssss says :

      “Part of the issue is that white feminists are constantly being given mixed messages about what they are “supposed” to do as allies. … If they speak, they are wrong and if they dont speak they are wrong ”

      Now for the first time you have walked a bit in our shoes.

      -male feminists

  7. blackmillennialmusings says :

    A remarkably well written piece!

  8. Blake says :

    I don’t normally leave comments on these types of articles, but a couple of things you said are just incorrect and greatly frustrate me because you have skewed the stories to fit your agenda and this article.

    2) The lady actress who was detained was engaging in lewd activity in a car with her boyfriend (which isn’t inherently illegal) when the police were responding to a 911 call (be it from whoever, they still received it). She then refused to comply and show her ID and was subsequently detained. She wasn’t profiled, she was asked to comply with police and she didn’t, there’s no feminist movement to be had there.

    3) She was the biggest star to have her pictures released, hell I don’t even remember the other white stars whose pictures were released. I don’t think this had to do with race..

    4) Why is it bad that white females heralded Emma Watson (a pop icon) as a feminist icon over the UN executives… who is more relatable?

    6) I hate this appropriation ish. Language and culture are not monoliths that don’t change. Who are you to call a word or phrase your own.

    7) Twerking mummies gotta have big butts. And they look like her not black face. What is wrong with dressing up like an ancient Egyptian, that civilization fell a long time ago. No one would get all up in arms and call it racist or appropriated if Nicki minaj dressed up in say colonial or feudal garb.

    8) Ugh. This one is just a super narrow and one-sided perspective of a very complex issue. Also how does this apply to feminism, both issues you described are completely unrelated to the issue your describing.

    9) White feminists didn’t support this campaign because it was just ridiculous. I don’t condone death threats or any threats for that matter against Suey Park, but the whole cancel Colbert campaign was completely misguided and uninformed. He was making a joke about racial discrimination (which you acknowledged), and it just so happened he chose a Chinese racial slur. Do you really expect him to make a joke against every single race? No, because that’s not funny.

    These were just flagrant misconstructions of these stories to fit your narrative. I think it’s really ironic how the feminist movement tries to paint the world as non-black-and-white and to see a picture as a whole and yet in doing so you guys just try to distill stories to either racial or sexist terms throwing everyone into their neat little boxes of terminology. However, in doing so you drive us farther apart and make the world a starker black and white trying to fit everyone into your perspective of how the world should be.

  9. wolfonakayak says :

    Thank you again for teaching me.

    I am surprised that there is not a #12 for the most enormous, blatant “oversight” of the year; that in all of the discussions of “Black Lives Matter,” I have yet to see one news story anywhere about “Black Women’s Lives Matter.” Nothing about the women killed by police; nothing about the fact that most black women face even more severe harassment, profiling, and discrimination. White people may not look at black women and think “dangerous,” but instead they heap on assumptions about bad parenting, sex work, and so on. I am not a black woman; I can’t say what form that discrimination takes. But by all the statistics I’ve seen, it seems to be just as bad as those shootings that have sparked nationwide protests–but no, never a peep about the lives of black women. And very little demand from white women to hear–“Wait, what’s happening to black women?”

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Feminist Fridays: This Week’s Findings (16.01.15) | Those Girls - January 18, 2015

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: