Dear White Feminists, You Cannot Afford to Ignore Women Of Color Any Longer

We’re getting more than a little tired of having us and our issues ignored unless they happen to dovetail with what you find important.
Publish date:
September 9, 2014
feminism, women of color, hacking

Okay, mainstream feminist community, it's time that you and I had a little talk.

You’ve not only screwed up. You’ve screwed up badly. And it’s usually after you’ve been given chance after chance after chance to get your act together.

That's why I have a proposition for you. It's time for a Come To Jesus meeting. Hear me out.

The celebrity nude photo hacking scandal is just the latest way in which mainstream feminism has screwed up with women of color.

We’re getting more than a little tired of having us and our issues ignored unless they happen to dovetail with what you find important. We’re tired of having to fight for ourselves with no help or support from you. And we’re especially tired of being expected to champion your issues without question.

And considering that the 2016 Presidential Primaries are coming up, you might want to think long and hard about how you can change your ways. I’ll explain a little later what I mean by that.

When a hacker dug up nude photos of luminaries including Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence, supermodel Kate Upton and Olympian McKayla Maroney (whose inclusion brought the whole “kiddie porn” aspect to the discussion) it led to a lot of columnists and feminists to do a lot of writing. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that the emphasis wasn’t deserved, because it was.

But, my mainstream feminist sisters, you all missed some folks when talking about your outrage.

Were it not for the folks at Essence Magazine, and believe it or not, the Washington Post, we never would have known that among those who had their privacy violated in this most heinous of ways was singer (and fellow Philadelphian) Jill Scott.

How a multi-Grammy-Award-winning artist and actress escaped your notice has me a bit confused. That the nasty comments her photos garnered on Twitter got past you also makes me scratch my head a little since any time someone says something sexist to a woman on social media, mainstream feminism swarms like angry bees.

But since it’s not the first time that a woman of color has stood alone and without a mainstream feminist champion, I’m also not surprised.

In fact, Scott joins a pretty illustrious group that includes Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm (one of the first women to run for president, although you never hear about it), First Lady Michelle Obama (the whole Fox News “baby mama” thing being my personal favorite), and a variety of other women of color.

She joins a group that includes women like Maria Fernandes, who died while taking a nap in her car between her four part-time jobs and Debra Harrell who is looking at 10 years in jail for felony child neglect for leaving her child in a park while she worked because she had no other child care option.

Scott joins the thousands of Black and Latina women who are currently missing and that get no face time with Nancy Grace. Now as I wrote that previous sentence, I realized that someone is going to say, “How can you say that we totally ignore the issues of women of color?! We spoke out for Janay Rice…”

That's a no-brainer. Mainstream feminism couldn’t afford to ignore Janay Rice. Ignoring the video of a woman getting knocked completely out by her football player husband would have made you all look as hypocritical as Newt Gingrich leading a marriage encounter group.

And my recommendation for “Come to Jesus” would have quickly become simply “Cuss You The Hell Out.”

The stakes are a little too high for that with the 2016 Presidential Primaries coming around the corner.

I don’t believe Hillary Clinton even a little bit when she says she doesn’t know if she’s running for president yet. When she finally decided to make a statement about the Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, that was your cue. Or it should have been. Granted, she was late, and her lateness tells me that her “Kitchen Cabinet” has everything but Dishes Of Color in it, but she said something.

Everyone knows that when Clinton puts her "running for president pantsuits" on in 2016, you're going to want women of color to be down with the cause. Some of you are still mad that we didn’t fall in line in 2008 and put your girl in the White House.

If you want us to help you make feminist history, women of color want something in return. We want our issues addressed. We want our contributions valued.

And we want you to bring the same passion to defending Michelle Obama against sexist attacks that you want us to bring to defending Hillary Clinton.

Women of color have issued you a Come To Jesus call, ladies. You might want to listen this time.