As a man, I cannot be a spokesperson for the women experience, however as an Afro-Indigenous Latino who comes from a low-income neighborhood, I have observed the inequality within the women community, specifically women’s feminist movements. The intersectionality of being a woman and a person of color cuts off women of color, mainly Black women, from finding solace in feminism or even in a Black activist movement. And when other factors like sexuality and class come into play, the circumstances that Black women face become even more difficult, as author Audre Lorde would know being a Black lesbian woman herself. In her essay “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference” Lorde tackles how Black women are left out of feminism movements and how the issues that Black women face are not part of the agenda of these feminism movements. One statement she made that stood out and I agree with is “many white women are heavily invested in ignoring the real differences. For as long as any difference between us means one of us must be inferior, then the recognition of any difference must be fraught with guilt. To allow women of Color to step out of stereotypes is too guilt provoking, for it threatens the complacency of those women who view oppression only in terms of sex” (118). The last sentence of this quote is what is really important because in movements like white feminist movements there’s this idea that those who are oppressed can’t also be oppressors, when in reality, even if they are oppressed by white men, straight cisgender white women have societal powers over Black people and especially Black women. So when those inequalities are presented in these white led movements they are just ignored because issues that are specific to the intersection of womanhood and Blackness are issues that don’t affect and therefore don’t concern white feminists.
This isn’t only an issue within feminism movements, this is also an issue within Black activist movements. We saw this in my gender and society class when we watched a Ted talk from Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. She showed the audience victims of police killings and everyone knew all of the Black men she showed because they have become the faces of police shootings after their killings. Then she showed images of Black women and nobody knew who they were, even though they were victims of the police just like the Black men. Their stories were never pushed by activist groups the same way those Black male victims were and that says something. Justice and equality for Black people is not really justice or equality if it does not include Black women, just like how equality for women is not true equality if it does not include Black women. Not only white women, but also Black men need to listen to Black women and their stories, but yet not try to be a spokesperson for them. We need to support them and stand by their side in fighting the oppression they face, and this goes for another other groups that get ignored because they’re stuck in intersecting crossroads of oppression.
-- works cited --
Lorde, Audre. “Age, Race, Class and Sex: Women Redefining Difference.” In Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches, 114–23. Berkeley, Calif: Crossing Press, c2007, 1984.