By: Diana Richtman
I remember not long after Donald Trump was inaugurated, an older black woman I worked with at the time made a comment insinuating that I supported Trump. At the time, I understood it to some extent. For one thing, I am a white woman living in Georgia. It’s a safe assumption. But, at the same time, it hurt me. Every moment of Donald Trump’s presidency has been painful because as a feminist and also just as a decent person, it is almost unbearable to watch an incompetent man accused of sexual assault ascend into one of the most powerful positions on earth. Of course that was hard, and it continues to be hard. But that is just one sliver of the many horrible things Donald Trump has done. He’s made too many racist comments to list, and the same goes for sexist comments. Sometimes, it is impossible to separate between the two. He stood by as thousands of people in Puerto Rico died from the effects of Hurricane Maria. He puts children in cages. He made it possible for Brett Kavanaugh, a man accused of sexual assault, to be voted onto the Supreme Court. It is impossible for him to tell the truth because he is a proven liar.
So I can get mad that I am a white woman and that means sometimes people are going to think I have bad opinions, but I know there are a lot worse—and more dangerous—assumptions people can make about others. For example, no one assumes that because I am a white woman I am inherently violent, but we see everyday how that affects black people, specifically young black men and boys, in life ending ways. Instead, I can choose the logical route and get mad about the facts. Here are the facts: 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump in 2016, and five white women voted to confirm Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination. Those women’s names were Shelley Moore Capito, Joni Ernst, Deb Fischer, Cindy Hyde-Smith and Susan Collins.
Here is another fact: If you think we can effectively dismantle the patriarchy without also dismantling white supremacy, you are wrong.
I don’t want to spend too much time trying to understand those five women or the 53 percent that got us here, but I think it is because some white women are willing to look past the ways that they are marginalized and oppressed for the sake of gaining even a semblance of power. To the women who think this, I only have this to say: remember Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is a white woman, and it didn’t save her from any of her pain.
So, white women, we have to do better because the patriarchy is here and it is scary and it doesn’t care that you have white privilege.
How do we do that?
First of all, we have to vote on November 6th, and we have to vote for the right people. In Georgia, that means we have to turn out for Stacey Abrams, the democratic candidate for governor. Second of all, we have to stop putting ourselves at the center of every conversation about feminism. I’m an extrovert which means that isn’t easy for me, but I know that not every feminist issue affects white women the same way it does women of color. That means women of color have to be given the floor to speak and share their stories and ideas. They have to be put in leadership positions.
In that same vein, we have to show up in concrete ways even when the issue at hand isn’t something that directly affects us. That means we have to care about racism, and the ways in which it systematically oppresses large portions of people in our country. That means reading other perspectives. That means protesting. That means donating.
White women, we have to hold the white men and white women in our lives accountable. That’s a tough one because we love these people, but we have to do it. I’m sorry. There’s no way around it.
All of these things are just a start, and might seem overwhelming. That’s fine. I am still working to do all of these things because some are harder than others. They don’t have to happen all at once, but they have to happen. They have to happen soon.