Confront Racism and OppressionWe must confront all forms of oppression in our work and in our communities if we want to truly address violence.
Confront Racism and Oppression
While intersectionality is a core framework through which our movement must function, we must also understand how it operates in the backdrop of white supremacy. The U.S. was built and continues to function in ways that maintain power for white people, at the expense of BIPOC. White supremacy also permeates our cultural and societal institutions, including those white-led movements that have pushed back against patriarchy and sexism. We must confront all forms of oppression in our work and in our communities if we want to truly address violence.
White feminism, an outgrowth of white supremacy, is defined by Rafia Zakaria as the refusal “to consider the role that whiteness and the racial privilege attached to it have played… in universalizing white feminist concerns, agendas, and beliefs as being those of all feminists.” Ignoring the wisdom, lived experiences, and explicit guidance of BIPOC, white feminists perpetuate systems of oppression as they seek to maintain power. Historically, this has included a close alignment with the criminal legal system, both in terms of where funding is located and as a potential solution to DV and SA. This not only limits services for survivors, it creates barriers and causes harm to BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ programs and survivors.
Ignoring the wisdom, lived experiences, and explicit guidance of BIPOC, white feminists perpetuate systems of oppression as they seek to maintain power.
The impact of white supremacy and white feminism are evident in our movement today. The marginalization of BIPOC leaders has led the field to almost exclusively empower cisgender, white women in leadership roles at national, state, and local levels. This leaves BIPOC-led efforts under-funded and often unrecognized for their work and leadership. It also creates an imbalance of power and resources, where funding has historically gone to “mainstream” programs at the expense of culturally specific programs – ultimately harming survivors.
Confronting Racism and Oppression in Our Work
- Requires white people to reckon with the history and harm of white supremacy to challenge its ongoing impact
- Elevates BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ leadership and prioritizes culturally specific programs
- Reexamines our relationships with other systems rooted in white supremacy that continue to harm marginalized communities
- Redistributes power to diversify movement leadership
- Embraces gender outside the binary and centers the transgender community