Paper dolls

Feminism is not an exclusive club for white ladies. Photo by Marlo Campbell

Amazing things happen when we shut up and listen. Open our ears, our minds, our hearts and just LISTEN.

Mikki Kendall, the estimable woman behind the hashtag #solidarityisforwhitewomen, has challenged us (and by us, I mostly mean white feminists, like the two who run this very site) to do just that. As she says, it was a hashtag born out of frustration, a response to “feminist” Hugo Schwyzer’s spectacular THAT’S IT I’M QUITTING THE INTERNET!!!1! meltdown on Twitter.

The issue: Schwyzer had loooong been given a platform by high-profile feminist bloggers at mega-traffic sites such as Jezebel, Feministe and Pandagon, despite his terrible treatment of women of colour. Despite being a fraud. Despite being narcissistic and creepy. Despite dating his students. Despite being violent to women.

The sympathetic responses to Schwyzer’s tantrum  prompted Kendall to tweet. And tweet. And tweet. And others to tweet as well. Since Monday, #solidarityisforwhitewomen has taken Twitter by storm.

As Kendall beautifully writes in this piece for the Guardian, Schwyzer was just the catalyst. #solidarityisforwhitewomen is about opening a (hopefully) productive dialogue and challenging mainstream feminism which, from where I’m sitting, looks awfully white — a problem that certainly didn’t begin or end with Schwyzer. (Sojourner Truth’s famous speech, Ain’t I a Woman?, was delivered in 1851. Just sayin’.)

Kendall writes:

White feminism has argued that gender should trump race since its inception. That rhetoric not only erases the experiences of women of color, but also alienates many from a movement that claims to want equality for all.

Indeed, feminism is not for middle-class, educated, heterosexual, cis white women by middle-class, educated, heterosexual, cis white women. When other women’s voices are excluded, dismissed and silenced, the movement fails. When we only hear voices of privilege, the movement fails. When those voices of privilege don’t acknowledge their privilege, the movement fails.

White feminists, this tweet, from Erica Brazelton of The Negress is to be taken to heart:

 Fighting oppression within a privileged body will always be different than fighting it within an oppressed one.

Check out #solidarityisforwhitewomen and, while you’re at it, check your privilege.