By Nicole Berland (November 7, 2018)
To other white and white-passing women, here goes a long and potentially unpopular post:
I’m stoked on many of the results from yesterday’s election, but, per usual, the returns saw the majority of white women voters cast our ballots for Republicans who legislate against women’s interests in places like Texas, Georgia, and Florida. Whether or not *you* voted Republican (if you’re reading this, you probably didn’t), *we* ww are responsible for the violence our demographic continues enact upon marginalized groups.
A few things:
If you’re wondering why white women vote Republican:
The reason ww vote for candidates who seek to consolidate power for rich white men is because we derive most of our privilege from our whiteness. The ww who vote Republican fail to recognize the ways in which our lives would all be immeasurably enriched by moving toward a more equitable society.
If you are still surprised that voting for Hillary wasn’t enough:
First, she was not a progressive candidate, and she’s proven time and again that she would have actively upheld white supremacy, probably without recognizing it as such. That being said, IMHO it’s great that you voted for her. Trump’s policies are caging children and killing countless more. It’s not that you shouldn’t have voted for her, it’s that voting isn’t enough, and her winning wouldn’t have been enough, especially in a two-party system that has functioned primarily and historically to consolidate power in the hands of white men.
What to start doing now, the day after election day:
1) Learn the difference between interpersonal and systemic racism, and fold it into your observations of every institution and interaction to which you’re party.
2) Press for actual progressivism in your political candidates, and begin at the local level. Hold your Democratic politicians accountable for policies that seek to redistribute privilege.
3) Follow WOC and other BIPOC activists, educators, and artists on social media, and pay them for your education via Patreon or Paypal, but don’t comment or send them DMs unless they explicitly request it. You don’t need to tell them how their work makes you feel or ask them to elaborate anything. Work out that stuff on your own or with your other white/white-passing friends, and let them focus on themselves and their communities. This is the first way to practice letting go of your privilege. I like @rachel.cargle, @kendrianaspeaks, @ihartericka, @shishi.rose, and others.
4) Start working on your “apolitical” friends and relatives or anyone who thinks that “staying out of politics” is possible. This doesn’t mean you should be hostile, but these are people who either don’t realize: a) that inaction supports the status quo; or b) that supporting candidates who are explicitly hostile to marginalized populations is a form of violence. Elaborate the stakes.
What not to do:
1) Don’t get defensive. To quote ShiShi Rose and others, if this isn’t about you, it isn’t about you. If you are worried about all the specific traumas white women suffer, think about how helping WOC dismantle the violences they experience at higher rates would also benefit you.
2) Don’t talk to POC or other marginalized populations about how their suffering makes you feel or ask them how you can help. There are plenty of educational resources online about how you can help. Read those.
3) Don’t take issue with a POC’s tone or methods; just listen.
4) Don’t think it’s on you as a white person to solve racism. When we’re upset, many of us want to organize actions, without realizing that there are already plenty of ways to support POC who have already been doing this forever. Even though it isn’t flashy, the best thing to do is probably to educate yourselves, give money, amplify WOC and other BIPOC voices, and collect your people to the best of your abilities.
If you feel guilty, remember that we are not born into this world with an understanding of our own privilege and how it impoverishes our humanity. The more you sit with these feelings, the easier it will be to start acting more justly.