When White feminists didn’t show up for Quvenzhane Wallis, I called it out — here’s looking at you Sandra Fluke. When I was grappling with my own definition of feminism, I wrote right here on Clutch: “I realized that feminism in the Black community has very different textures than it does in the White community, and that, I, as a Black woman, do not have the luxury of shrugging off my ethnicity. Equality, not just for women, but for Black and Brown people around the globe must be achieved; it is a critical war that must be fought parallel to eradicating the dehumanizing subjugation and violence that plague all women — and that fact can neither be diminished nor ignored.”
The lines in the sand are clear. And when a Black woman, mother and community activist — and make no mistake, Michelle Obama is all three — is under attack by a White feminist, it is always more important to focus with razor-sharp precision on that very specific attack, rather than on a polite exchange about the mainstream definition of feminism.
It is always more important to show up.
White feminists, you who have been protected, and coddled (the irony is noted, Cottle), and revered in this country, do not get to define feminism on your terms and expect women of color to fall in line with your selfish agenda. You do not get to remain silent on our sons being murdered, and our daughters being murdered, and our consistent and disproportionate victimization at the hands of men — yes, even yours — then tell us we should focus our attention more on a country that still treats us as 3/5ths human rather than on our own children.
And you, Michelle Cottle, do not get to pretend that by including a token Black feminist in your article that it absolves you of racism. It didn’t work with George Zimmerman’s one Black friend; it doesn’t work when Bill O’Reilley trots out Juan Williams; it doesn’t work for GOP Black Chick; and it doesn’t work for you.
It is an obvious, pathetic ploy that bigots use to disguise their animosity; as if putting a Black face on White bullshit bippity bobbity boos it into sugar.
Editor’s Note: It doesn’t.
In the Audacity of Hope, then Senator Barack Obama explained the complex intersectionality of Black feminism in a powerful way when discussing the early years of their marriage:
"It wasn’t the constant scrambling between work and the children that made Michelle’s situation so tough. It was also the fact that from her perspective she wasn’t doing either job well. That was not true, of course; her employers loved her and everyone remarked on what a good mother she was. But I came to see that in her own mind, two versions of herself were at war with each other—the desire to be the woman her mother had been, solid, dependable, making a home and always there for her kids; and the desire to excel in her profession, to make her mark on the world and realize all those plans she’d had on the very first day that we’d met."
That’s my feminism.
Black feminists have always had to fight for our families and entire communities, while White women have only been locked in a power struggle with White men; and they have done this oblivious to the plight of their Black and Brown sisters. They have pretended that expanding privilege for them means equality for us, but we know better.”