March 8 is International Women’s Day. It is also the day for the “General Strike: A day without a woman.”
I am all about the revolution and fighting for what is right, particularly when it concerns oppressed groups. What I am not down for is protesting and striking with folks who claim to be down for the cause and wear their badge of opposition, but work only for their interests––not for all oppressed people.
That’s why I am here to tell you that I’m not your feminist. Most so-called feminists don’t care about people who look like me.
The technical definition of feminism provides that all sexes should be created equally. However, within many organizations that have the mission of securing women’s rights or bringing parity to industries where women are not at the table, the voices of Black women, Latinas, Native women, Muslim women, transgender women, and lesbians continue to be muted and cast aside.
Let me drop a fact: According to Pew Research Center, White women earn $17 per hour, Black women earn $13, and Latinas earn $12 hour. Of course, these rates in no way compare to the hourly rate of White men, who earn $21 per hour. But it is no coincidence that White women are outpacing other women of darker hues. So, what are White women doing about it?
Well, they have created Equal Pay Day. But they celebrate it in a way that’s similar to how America celebrates Black History Month. Instead of being intentional about incorporating Black history into American history (because that is what it is), Equal Pay Day now has Black Women’s Equal Pay Day and Latina Equal Pay Day. Feminists had the bright idea of dividing themselves by race. Awesome, right? Not.
Another fact: While Black people make up only 12 percent of the population, 35 percent of people missing were Black, according to statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Yes, the rate of missing persons for Blacks in 2013 was almost three times higher than the entire Black U.S. population. The important question is, at what rate do we see reports of missing Black people being reported in the media? Where are the millions of people marching at once regarding missing and abducted children of color? They’re sitting at home because those most affected are disproportionately Black or Brown, not White.
And…one more fact (because there is something about the number three that makes me feel like I’ve made my point): In 2014, the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that Black women were imprisoned at a rate of 109 per 100,000, while the rate for White women was 53 per 100,000.
Now, this must mean that Black women commit crime at twice the rate of White women, right? Wrong. The FBI reported that same year that 69 percent of people arrested were White, but only 27 percent of people arrested were Black. The numbers don’t lie, but our nation profiles and discriminates.
Where are the large-scale marches regarding mass incarceration? Yes, some Whites participated in protests against police brutality for Black Lives Matter, but there is no ongoing participation because our nation profiles and discriminates.
The bottom line is that women won’t win by just uplifting White women. Women win when all of us, regardless of race and economic status, are lifted up. But that’s not happening, which is why I’m not your feminist. I believe most White feminists perpetuate patriarchy and White supremacy.
So I’ll be your feminist when you care about and act on behalf of more than just the people who make you feel comfortable.
China Dickerson has worked in politics, government, and community organizing for over 10 years. The Charleston, South Carolina, native currently lives in Washington D.C., where she works as a political strategist, and executive director of D.C. Young Democrats. Follow her on Twitter at @MsChinaD