Is feminism always going to feel like a white thing?

by Granate Sosnoff on 12th March, 2013

First of all: Action = Good. A drawback to social media is that it can seduce you into believing you’ve done something significant by using your powerful “like” or “share.” In addition to all our good work at the keyboard, we need to get out and participate at some point.

So… recently I volunteered for local efforts for the One Billion Rising V-Day protests/flashmob dance/events on the Communications Team and found myself reinvigorated with a shot of feminism that felt echo-y of the mid 80s.

The involvement also raised a few questions for me.

In addition to volunteering, my friend and I challenged ourselves to participate in a flashmob dance. We watched the youTube instructional video – predominantly African American young women from a Brooklyn school, choreographed by the prominent Debbie Allen, also African American. And we went to a rehearsal in Oakland where only a handful of people of color showed up. She’s Chicana, I’m mixed heritage Asian/Jewish, and there we were in Oakland, a tremendously racially diverse place surrounded by white people… weird and wrong.

I had two reactions, one was: this is awful, god what poor outreach, ugh, can we do this? And two: thank god for the goodness of good white people and their showing up … I know, weird too, but humor gets me through…

Because I had some insider knowledge, I know that people of color were involved but not in the majority for planning. I also know there wasn’t any money involved and many were working full-time jobs AND volunteering to get this thing off the ground.

Regardless, it was very retro in a bad way that a group of feminist events felt overly white. At the risk of sounding like a political Carrie Bradshaw: Is feminism always going to feel like a white thing?  Even when there are people of color involved?

Seems to me, it’s still the case that unless it is a people of color-defined organization, or maybe a youth group, activism around women’s issues (and other areas btw…) in America still has an 80s feel regarding race.

What was heartening was all the footage from around the world, New Delhi, City of Joy in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, all over Europe. Even seeing the celebrities come out and participate was a good thing. Because it’s a good idea – dancing and rising up all on one day to bring attention and a positive vibe to something so awful and in need of a world movement everyday… not THE solution, but part of all the work that needs to get done.

P.S. Not to be preachy, but action still does = good… back away from the keyboard, give your thumb a rest and try it (if you haven’t lately). Sometimes the action isn’t perfect, but if you’re not there you can’t engage to make it better.



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