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Confronting the Racism of White Feminism

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Lauren Walker, in a piece at xoJane, describes how her infatuation with women's rights as a child was a way to numb the insecurities she felt as a black girl. She also realized that it closed her eyes to the erasure of black women within feminism. Ultimately, she says, "oppression in the guise of liberation for another group is still oppression." 

In what I’m now realizing was a deflection from confronting the issues I had with myself, I chose to strongly embrace another aspect of myself instead: my femininity. If it was impossible to be anything as a black person, I thought, I could at least be something as a girl.

Feminism became my lifeblood from those extremely early years onward. I voraciously read every young adult novel with female protagonists — all of which were white — and would critique my favorite television shows for their treatment of their female characters …

It was during 2008 that the dam completely shattered. I saw the solidarity that I had hinged my self-esteem on during my youngest years laid bare for what it really was, and the sense of belated betrayal it instilled in me was beyond description.

I watched as Gloria Steinem wrote an op-ed that pitted race against gender, as though the two could never coexist, and I experienced people denigrating the civil rights movement’s misogyny without paying any mention to feminism’s racism. 


Read Lauren Walker's entire piece at xoJane.  

The Root aims to foster and advance conversations about issues relevant to the black Diaspora by presenting a variety of opinions from all perspectives, whether or not those opinions are shared by our editorial staff.

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