You've probably seen or heard about #solidarityisforwhitewomen trending somewhere on Twitter or Facebook recently. There's quite a bit of background to the origin of the hashtag — a professor and self-proclaimed feminist has a “Twitter meltdown” — but you can read about that elsewhere, if you haven't already.
Rather, what I want to address at the moment is the meaning and implication behind the hashtag itself. In perfect honesty, it has a legitimate element of confusion, but in the same vein, it’s very much worth knowing, and it'd be an honest shame for someone to ignore the trend or miss its message due to a little confusion.
The phrase itself — “solidarity is for white women” — is a caustic recognition of an ironic division in the way contemporary feminists carry out feminism: the gross underrepresentation of colored women. To be more specific, #solidarityisforwhitewomen is a criticism of the latent racism in contemporary feminist media, feminists themselves and social perspectives on feminism.
Now, it's critical to keep in mind that I haven't said feminism itself is at fault — on an inherent level, feminism is equality, and the “ideal” feminist will approach his or her life with a holistically egalitarian perspective. Rather, the fault lies in the way feminism is often carried out, and the best way to showcase exactly where the particular problem lies is to provide instances of it.
For example, the general “feminist media” tends to showcase feminism through the lens of white women; the discourse regarding the pay gap between men and women tends to ignore the fact that women of color are paid even lower than those of a lighter complexion (something that should not be ignored); and lastly, to quote a fairly famous tweet in the #solidarityisforwhitewomen trend that I think captures our social perspective rather well: “When pink hair, tattoos, and piercings are ‘quirky’ or ‘alt’ on a white woman but ‘ghetto’ on a black one.”
Again, there's an important thing that you really can't forget here: Feminism is not inherently at fault. The tweet I quoted holds society and its perspective culpable; discussions about equal pay ignoring the issue of color is the fault of individual feminists, politicians and material conditions that have held gender superior to color for a very long time. The same can be said of whatever feminist literature and media exists that unwittingly demonstrates only half the battle feminism seeks to fight.
There's another critical point I made in semantics that shouldn't go unnoticed; I didn't call modern day feminists “racists.” Rather, I mentioned cases of “latent racism,” which I'll loosely define as racist or non-diverse attitudes an individual holds that they aren't actively aware of.
If the less-than-stellar representation of colored women in contemporary feminism can be chalked up to latent racism, then #solidarityisforwhitewomen was and is a beacon of social progress. It manages to bring the latent racism to our attention and to the forefront of our societal discourse, and that's exactly how one would go about dealing with something as intrinsic as a latent attitude. Feminists on the whole fight for equality; if you point out to a feminist that a behavior or action they take is inherently contradictory notions of equality, it's something they can work to amend.
So, when you see #solidarityisforwhitewomen somewhere out there, hopefully you'll have a decent grasp on its purpose and message — and hopefully you'll do your part in shifting from a more racist breed of feminism to what it was originally intended to accomplish.
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