It’s a well-known fact that in the United States, women make $0.78 to every $1.00 a man makes of the same profession, and this is often the platform used for many feminists’ campaign for equal pay. However, there are a few crucial details excluded from this fact that make it even more shocking. When race is incorporated into this statement, the need for feminism becomes even stronger. White women earn $0.78 to every $1.00 a white man earns. Black women earn $0.64 to every $1.00 a white man earns for the same profession, and Hispanic women earn only $0.54 to every $1.00 earned by a white man.
Feminism is the idea that men and women should be economically, politically, and socially equal. In theory, feminism is all-inclusive and represents all people who identify as female (or non-binary). However, problems arise to feminism in practice.
As a feminist, I could list hundreds of reasons why feminism is needed today (maybe at another time). As a feminist, I could talk on and on about why feminism is important for every single woman in and outside of the United States. And as a feminist, it hurts me to admit that feminism does not represent all women. As a white cisgender woman, I have the privilege of identifying as a feminist, and voicing my opinion alongside other white cisgender women who share my concerns. But with white women leading the forefront with this new wave of feminism, there is very little room for all the other demographics feminism is supposed to incorporate (black women, Hispanic women, Native American women, Asian women, WoC, trans women, etc.) to voice their concerns.
It should be of no surprise that my experience as a feminist is different than a black woman’s experience as a feminist. There are many more injustices WoC have to face that I have the luxury of not even having to think about, but these discriminations are never really addressed by the general feminist population. I rarely hear about feminism fighting the “angry black woman” stereotype, or that a large majority of transphobic actions are against trans WoC. I almost never have to think about gentrification, or police brutality against black women (at least black men are receiving some news coverage).
After years of claiming to be a feminist, I now understand that I am a white feminist, and white feminism is not the same thing as feminism. As a white feminist (and not a white feminist), I need to not only “support” WoC, but also listen to them and actively use my privilege to progress their voices and their concerns. I want them to not only feel like they’re being represented, but be represented on the same level I am. I want to hear their concerns, and help push them to the forefront so they can voice these concerns themselves, because I’ve said enough already. It’s time we (as white feminists) not only listen to WoC and trans women (especially trans WoC), but also help them gain the attention they deserve.
Feminism should unite women of different backgrounds and races to fight for the benefit of all women, not just white feminists for white feminism.