Letters //

Dear White Feminist II

By Bridget Harilaou.

Dear White Feminist,

It was brought to my attention that you thought my first letter was offensive, insulting, rude, an over-generalisation and extremely unhelpful in communicating how you can make feminism more inclusive for Wom*n of Colour.

I would like to clarify that my original letter’s main purpose was actually to acknowledge the struggles and experiences of Wom*n of Colour and to give validity and solidarity to them.

With a title like, “Dear White Feminist,” I can see how this may have confused you, but let me be clear.

That letter was not really for you. It was for Wom*n of Colour to finally have their voices heard in how they feel in feminist spaces and to say loudly and unapologetically that THIS REALLY HAPPENS. OUR INTERSECTIONAL OPPRESSIONS ARE REAL.

Finally having this written down, has been beautiful for so many of us.

Dear White Feminist,

If you knew how many Wom*n of Colour messaged me, commented, understood and felt visible for the first time because their struggles were actually being acknowledged by what I wrote, maybe you wouldn’t feel so insulted.

If you realised that, “I’m not racist,” and “Not all White Feminists” are exactly the same as men saying “Not all men,” maybe you wouldn’t throw the same rhetoric back at Wom*n of Colour.

If you identify with, understand and appreciate the movement of “#YesAllWomen” then maybe you can liken it to how Wom*n of Colour feel, because YES ALL WOM*N OF COLOUR experience oppression on the basis of race or ethnicity in feminist spaces because of your White privilege.

Dear White Feminist,

If you thought “Not All White Feminists” or “But I’m Not Racist” after reading it, then you need to think about your privilege, how it functions and the effect it has on silencing issues of racism.

As a person who has White privilege, you cannot tell if you’re racist or not, because race does not affect your every interaction.

It doesn’t oppress you every day, it doesn’t dictate your job prospects and how people police your behaviour and your body.

Chances are you never actually notice if you’ve been racist, because you’re unaware of it.

In fact, because you don’t know what it feels like to be institutionally, systematically and personally oppressed by hundreds of years of disadvantage, a history of colonialism, a life-time of racism – you aren’t paying attention to race 100% of the time, and that means you slip up and are unintentionally hurtful.

You probably need People of Colour to let you know when you’ve said something racist, because as a result of your White Privilege, you didn’t even know what you were saying was racially charged.

The definition of privilege is that because it’s not a problem for you, you think there is no problem.

Dear White Feminist,

This letter was for you, and I hope I was clear.

Thank you to my two best White Feminist friends, who helped me articulate myself, I could not have written this without you.

I hope more of you are willing to listen and learn, so that we can create a world where wom*n of all backgrounds can feel included and safe.

Illustration by Emily Johnson.