Gender or Race? You Simply Must Choose.

Both Black men and white women constantly tell WOC, that we must choose which part of our identity we are most troubled by.  Both completely refuse to acknowledge that even asking us to make this choice is an expression of privilege. What other group are constantly told that to have one part of their identity validated, they must repudiate the other. At various times I have called out black men for their sexism and white women for their racism. Intersectionality is not something I can afford to pay lip service to  because my body represents the very concept. 

When I enter into a hostile situation, it is not always clear whether or not I am dealing with racism or sexism,  sometimes it is a combination of the two. Black women occupy the bottom of the race and class hierarchy, and therefore we have a unique understanding of the ways in which oppression and privilege work.

To ask a person of colour to discount the relevance of race in their lived experience is beyond hubris, it is to be wilfully obtuse and racist.  On a post I wrote entitled Why Is It Always The White Women, the following comment was left.

Perhaps women of color have too much invested in defending men, rather than overthrowing male supremacy. I’ve always wondered how this particular blind spot can be so all pervasive, but then the truth that men everywhere — black or white are truly the people who rule the world.

Who are these men that we are meant to rail against?  Who are these men that we are meant to turn our backs on.  I will tell you who these men are; they are our sons, fathers, brothers, and friends.  A black man may not understand every nuance of my existence due to male privilege, but he will understand what racism means to me.  These men that we are told to abandon are not only our loved ones, they are our compatriots in the struggle.

I am addressing this issue today, because I read about an image of Barack Obama being lynched.  Barack and Michelle are clearly people of class privilege, but an act of utter evil and hatred reduced them to ‘othered’ beings.  To those feminists that are intent that black women should choose gender I ask, will you weep with us when our black sons become victims of racism?  Is my mothers pain woman enough to justify their deaths  as a feminist issue?   What about Baracks daughters, do you feel the pain of the child that watches helpless as their father is reduced to a caricature, and tuned into fodder for racist ideals?

“Black males have the greatest chance of dying before they reach twenty. Although they are only 6 percent of the U.S.population, black males make up half of male prisoners in local, state and federal jails. An overwhelming majority of the twenty thousand Americans killed in crime-related incidents each year are black males. Over thirty-five percent of all black males in American cities are drug and alcohol abusers. Twenty-five percent of the victims of AIDS are black men. Fifty percent of black men between sixteen and sixty-two are not active in the labor force. Thirty-two percent of black men have incomes below the poverty level.” (Gibbs, as quoted in Dyson 96)

Racism effects more than high profile men like Barack, and it is only because white women are in the position to wield privilege, that they do not see it for the evil that it is.  You may accuse black women of collusion with black men against the horrors of sexism, but I accuse you of collusion with white men in the furtherance of racism, and the white supremacist state. Unless you are daily, actively striving to mitigate your privilege, and working against racism, calling black women to the mat for supporting those we love when they are being victimized, is supporting the very system that makes sexism possible.

I will not choose between my blackness and womanhood.  To do so would not only splinter my identity, but it would support the isms that work to construct my body, and those that I love as less than.  The taunting about solidarity is not a call for action, it is a request for denial and betrayal.  You shall not alight the mountain of justice, with POC hauling your weight. 

Posted in Topics

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *