They’re Going to Laugh at You: White Women, Betrayal, and the N-Word

By Sofia Quintero, cross-posted from Black Artemis

Who spiked the Evian? Lately, there’s been a rash of White women using the n-word – including self-professed liberals and progressives. As if that were not bad enough, they act shocked, defensive and even downright nasty when told by women of all races that they should cut that shit out.

First example: a few White women made and carried signs that stated Woman Is the N***** of the World for Slut Walk in New York City on October 1st. (We found out it was two women carrying the same sign.–Ed.)

While some White women including those among Slut Walk NYC’s organizers and participants have stepped up to condemn these actions, there are too many who have come to their defense, ranging from the naively privileged to the unapologetically hostile. I’m talking Facebook posts such as, “It is NOT racist, and anybody who thinks so is a fucking idiot” to a White woman telling an African American woman to go fuck herself. (I’d post links, but in no surprise to me, the posts have conveniently disappeared.)

A few days later, Barbara Walters used the word and then played victim when told by her The View co-host Sherri Shepherd that she was hurt by it. Acting as if her journalistic integrity was called into question instead of hearing the pain of her so-called friend, Walters exploited Shepherd’s struggle to concretize her discomfort with Walters’s use of the word and attempted to make Shepherd feel unreasonable for taking offense. (I’ll save my musings on why Walters will never have a woman of color – least of all a woman of African descent – who is capable and willing to hand her ass to her on The View for another time.)

Then last night I learned that at Occupy Philadelphia, two Black women were called n****** by volunteers. Now the actual details of the incident remain sketchy, but from what I understand, the fact that these women were slurred is not in dispute. Apparently, charges of racism against the organizing group predated the incident.

Many women of all races such as Stephanie Gilmore, Sydette Harry, and the Crunk Feminist Collective have issued thorough, incisive and poignant analyses as to why it is never appropriate for a self-proclaimed White feminist ally to use this racial slur. There is little more I can add to the substance of these and other responses already made. Still I have a compelling desire (which I will hereinto unapologetically indulge) to contribute to the discussion by making an attempt to make White women perpetrators and their apologists viscerally understand what exactly is the impact of their use of the n-word.

Warning: it ain’t going to be diplomatic or pretty because we’re already far past that.

So to all the White women who think it’s cool to use the n-word, y’all seen the movie Carrie, right? Recall the pivotal scene where Carrie White’s nemesis Chris and her boyfriend Billy dump a bucket of pig’s blood on her. Before Carrie telekinetically wrecks shop, she stands there drenched in blood and humiliation as people laugh at her.

That’s how that shit feels when you use the n-word.

We’re Carrie White and you’re Chris Hargensen except Chris never fronted like she was Carrie’s friend.

A few of your apologists are Sue Snell, perhaps well-meaning but ultimately ineffectual and forever haunted by the damaged to feminist solidarity that you have caused.

But your most virulent apologists are bunch of Billy Nolans who pick up the havoc where you left.

Your use of the n-word is a huge bucket of pig’s blood. When you use it and defend yourself, you’re Chris licking her lips as she pulls the cord. It’s a betrayal, plain and simple.

Stop with the defensiveness and rationalizations for just a minute and sit with that. If you’re really ’bout it, just accept that already. Recognize that the mere ability to dig your heels in – telling us we don’t get it, defending your honor like some damsel in distress (by the way, how are you OK with pulling the most anti-feminist of anti-feminist shticks), etc. – wouldn’t exist without the racial privilege you think is somehow neatly tucked away in the folds of your gender identity. You really can’t get whiter than that.

And guess what? Recasting Black women who call you out as the threat to whatever image you have constructed of yourself got you looking really patriarchal right about now. You’re doing to Black women what men of all races to do to us all the time.

It’s a betrayal when you act as if you have no clue in 2011 about what feminists of color endure within our own community when we make the decision to trust in and build with White feminists. Patriarchal men and women of color are like Piper Laurie, doing everything to derail us whenever we align ourselves with you. When we throw on our jackets to head out to the meeting, they stand at the top of the stairs yelling, “They’re going to laugh at you.”

We have faith and show up anyway only for you to pull the cord on prom night.

(Side note to those anti-feminist people of color: now isn’t the time for you to say, “I told you so.” That’s when you go from acting like Carrie’s mother to making like her gym teacher. Instead of joining the laughter, you should be standing with us as we call out the racism rather than using it as an opportunity to gut check us on our feminism. Don’t bother if for no other reason than it’s just not going to work for you. All you do when you attempt to discredit feminism by throwing an instance of racist arrogance of certain White women in our face is play yourself. We’re just not that fickle. With few exception, we’re not going to come “home” like the prodigal Carrie White because, as you’ll recall, her mother pretended to comfort her only to literally stabbed her in the back. Yeah, we’re not playin’ that.)

Now back to you n-word loving White women. You want to show how hip you are? Stop listening to Yoko Ono and Kreayshawn and read a book, read a book, read a MF book. Preferably one by a Black feminist such as Audre Lorde or bell hooks. One course in an entire women’s studies program doesn’t cut it.

What to show how down you are? Quit with the silly references to hip hop culture as some kind of permission. As mad as we may be at you, even we don’t believe you’re that dumb. You especially denigrate yourself with that one so stop it.

To all you Sue Snells, when women associated with your movements (’cause that’s what it’s looking like right about now – YOUR movements — now matter how many invitations you extend) tell women of color to go fuck themselves, call us idiots for taking offense, say they’re sorry if we’re offended as if our feelings are the problem and not the actions that triggered them and other such nonsense, how ’bout You. Just. Check. Them. Despite all the historic and ongoing treatment of men of color as menaces to White womanhood, feminists of color usually have no problem pulling a brother’s coattails when he comes for you, but y’all kinda drag your feet when a White woman does the same to us or our men. And that high school tactic of pleading, “It wasn’t me” doesn’t suffice. I don’t mean to get all vanguardist on y’all, but how about you bench these chicks when they come out of pocket? Seriously, where is the discipline in this movement? I’m not saying to immediately show her the door (although that just might be appropriate on occasion.) Struggle with her if you must, but there has to be serious and immediate consequences for racist behavior even if it’s sending homegirl to an intersectionality boot camp.

Stop confusing the fact that the n-word is still used by some black folks as license for you to use it. Many women including White feminists still use the wordbitch, but I don’t see you abiding for one second any man thinking he can do the same. In fact, if a man who identified as a feminist and/or ally still had the audacity to roll up to Slut Walk with a sign that read Rape is for Pussies, all his professions to solidarity, insistence that we focus on the “real” issue and the like wouldn’t have zilch currency for you so don’t act brand new.

And while we’re on the subject of Black folks who embrace the n-word, I don’t give a damn how many Black friends you have who don’t blink an eye or even think it’s cute when that word comes out of your mouth. You still don’t and never will have license to use that word. Accept that. If you can’t stop insisting that you be allowed to use the n-word on philosophical grounds, how ’bout you just let it go on the simple fact that you will never win this one. Trust me on that. If any woman of color – friend, comrade, stranger — tells you it is offensive to her, the only right answer of a true ally is to knock it off. This mounting any never mind excessive defense of the use of the n-word by you or any other White person then turning around and complaining that our expressing our hurt and anger is a distraction from the “real” issue at hand… how’s that working for you? It isn’t, and you know it.

And you know why despite your Cool White Chick status you weren’t at the meeting when your Black BFF was elected representative-at-large for the United Black Diaspora? It’s because the election never took place and that organization doesn’t exist. They never did and even if they ever were to, despite your CWC bona fides, you still wouldn’t be invited. Trust me on that one, too. Until we make some meaningful progress in defeating racism, White anti-racists have their own lane. You truly want to be an ally? Stay in it.

Yes, this is harsh, but in addition to being furious at the recent number of White women who think they can use this word and still front like they are our friends, I’ve been spoiled. I have meaningful relationships with White feminists who get it, and they have set the bar high. Are they perfect? No. But unlike you, they listen. Perhaps that’s why you avoid them like the plague. If you were genuinely interested in dismantling racism and forgoing the white privilege that would require, you would spend less time on Facebook defending the indefensible and more live time with them.

And for God’s sake, stop watching propaganda like The Help.

  • Pingback: Whiteness and the N-Word « chivas sandage

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Yes and no. 

     In my experience, White feminists are more willing to call out the racism of White men than they are that of other White women. That’s what I primarily meant. A White man’s maleness seems to create enough distance for such women to be able to see his trangressions whereas there’s a more common blindness to racism when the White person committing it is another woman.  

    However, I do not mean to overlook or downplay the racism of White men, argue that it’s any more oro less pernicious or any other BS like that. Nevertheless, the focus of this post is specifically the persisting race problem among women who identify as feminists. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Sister, you said this far better than I did with just this:  “It’s a plain case of white people seeing something that they don’t have( like the n-word is something to be praised or desired…) and taking it for their own. The n-word in America shouldn’t be something white people can have. It’s for the African American community to use, abuse, change, ignore, or say.”  I hope you keep your own blog, and if not, you should start one with this comment. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Sister, you said this far better than I did with just this:  “It’s a plain case of white people seeing something that they don’t have( like the n-word is something to be praised or desired…) and taking it for their own. The n-word in America shouldn’t be something white people can have. It’s for the African American community to use, abuse, change, ignore, or say.”  I hope you keep your own blog, and if not, you should start one with this comment. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Yale-Dikes/1733656930 Yale Dikes

      In the words of Paul Mooney, “White people will take stuff… That’s what they do…. Don’t like me too much or they might take me.”
       

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Thank you for sharing that. I think that’s a wonderful way of clearing the ground and practicing the personal is a political in another, necessary vein i.e. the revolution within. I can imagine that the initial reaction of many students is, “What the hell did I get myself into?” and I would bet that quite a few head straight to the registrar to drop the class. But whoever remains is ready to avail themselves of and contribute to a transformative learning experience. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    All I can do is check like and say thank you. Your comment is not only a basic intro to the fluidity of privilege but also a succinct explanation of the power and promise of understanding intersectionality as difficult as it can be to apply.  It’s difficult but doable and necessary. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I never thought of it this way and very much appreciate your insight.  No, we’re not the only people who have been oppressed, but that is precisely their comfort with and their argument for using the word.  The goal is to equate their experience with Black people without realizing (1) it is not the same and (2) it needn’t be the same to be valuable. After all, this why when someone calls out the use, s/he gets arguments like, “White women have been slaves, too” and “Are you creating hierarchies of oppression?” I kid you not. Look no further than the comments to this post on my own blog.  There’s a deliberate blindness to the hierarchy of oppression that is imbedded in the phrase, “Women is n****r of the world” through its erasure of Black women.  They think, however, they’re drawing parallels and don’t want to hear how illogical and ahistorical they’re being. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Thank you for sharing your experience with this particular issue. Your discovery – “what I was seeking, in essence, was the opportunity to use a horrifyingly derogatory term, rather than seeking the opportunity to develop relationships through a commitment to truly listen to one another” – seems to be the epiphany that some are avoiding at all costs.  Can/do you also share what you feel you have gained in exchange for giving up access to the word? Reflections and experiences such as these are the stories that the apologists need to hear to get past all the rhetorical arguments that only add salt to the wounds. Then maybe they’ll find the incentive to take this step themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Thank you for sharing your experience with this particular issue. Your discovery – “what I was seeking, in essence, was the opportunity to use a horrifyingly derogatory term, rather than seeking the opportunity to develop relationships through a commitment to truly listen to one another” – seems to be the epiphany that some are avoiding at all costs.  Can/do you also share what you feel you have gained in exchange for giving up access to the word? Reflections and experiences such as these are the stories that the apologists need to hear to get past all the rhetorical arguments that only add salt to the wounds. Then maybe they’ll find the incentive to take this step themselves.

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Do share. And please discuss. Not only with women of color but other White feminist who think laying claim to the word is some form of solidarity. Thank you. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Yes, layered into white privilege is the notion that nothing is off limits and that includes the “right” to use a word that many profess to find detestable.  If one hates it so much, why isn’t it easy to “just shut up and not use it?” Because holding onto any and all power even if it is to be hurtful apparently is most important. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Everyone can stand to
    get comfortable with the fact that they don’t know everything, recognizing that
    there are experiences they can’t speak to, etc.  That is also what grates
    about the endurance of the tropes in fodder such as THE HELP i.e. the
    co-optation of certain narratives. The parallel between THE HELP and White
    women’s use of the n-word is the belief that there is no narrative that White
    folks cannot claim (and men do this to women, straight folks do this to LGBTQ
    folks, etc.) What is essentially not about you, you make about you because that
    is the only reason you can see for inserting yourself into the struggle. That
    arrogance and the (often steadfastly willful) blindness to privilege that it
    requires is what makes folks want to throw their hands up and walk away. :(

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Everyone can stand to
    get comfortable with the fact that they don’t know everything, recognizing that
    there are experiences they can’t speak to, etc.  That is also what grates
    about the endurance of the tropes in fodder such as THE HELP i.e. the
    co-optation of certain narratives. The parallel between THE HELP and White
    women’s use of the n-word is the belief that there is no narrative that White
    folks cannot claim (and men do this to women, straight folks do this to LGBTQ
    folks, etc.) What is essentially not about you, you make about you because that
    is the only reason you can see for inserting yourself into the struggle. That
    arrogance and the (often steadfastly willful) blindness to privilege that it
    requires is what makes folks want to throw their hands up and walk away. :(

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Everyone can stand to
    get comfortable with the fact that they don’t know everything, recognizing that
    there are experiences they can’t speak to, etc.  That is also what grates
    about the endurance of the tropes in fodder such as THE HELP i.e. the
    co-optation of certain narratives. The parallel between THE HELP and White
    women’s use of the n-word is the belief that there is no narrative that White
    folks cannot claim (and men do this to women, straight folks do this to LGBTQ
    folks, etc.) What is essentially not about you, you make about you because that
    is the only reason you can see for inserting yourself into the struggle. That
    arrogance and the (often steadfastly willful) blindness to privilege that it
    requires is what makes folks want to throw their hands up and walk away. :(

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Everyone can stand to
    get comfortable with the fact that they don’t know everything, recognizing that
    there are experiences they can’t speak to, etc.  That is also what grates
    about the endurance of the tropes in fodder such as THE HELP i.e. the
    co-optation of certain narratives. The parallel between THE HELP and White
    women’s use of the n-word is the belief that there is no narrative that White
    folks cannot claim (and men do this to women, straight folks do this to LGBTQ
    folks, etc.) What is essentially not about you, you make about you because that
    is the only reason you can see for inserting yourself into the struggle. That
    arrogance and the (often steadfastly willful) blindness to privilege that it
    requires is what makes folks want to throw their hands up and walk away. :(

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Everyone can stand to
    get comfortable with the fact that they don’t know everything, recognizing that
    there are experiences they can’t speak to, etc.  That is also what grates
    about the endurance of the tropes in fodder such as THE HELP i.e. the
    co-optation of certain narratives. The parallel between THE HELP and White
    women’s use of the n-word is the belief that there is no narrative that White
    folks cannot claim (and men do this to women, straight folks do this to LGBTQ
    folks, etc.) What is essentially not about you, you make about you because that
    is the only reason you can see for inserting yourself into the struggle. That
    arrogance and the (often steadfastly willful) blindness to privilege that it
    requires is what makes folks want to throw their hands up and walk away. :(

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Agreed!  If they
    cannot see that the perpetuation of one “ism” facilitates all others,
    our movements will continue to implode.  But that gets at precisely the
    problem with this particular issue:  they think that using the
    Lennon/Ono song is some indication that they understand intersectionality. And
    the irony doesn’t stop there, Grace.  This song and those who defend it in
    this context are willfully blind to the fact that this song ultimately argues
    that gender trumps race, and yet if you call that out, the response you get is,
    “Oh, so are you trying to say that Black women always have it worst and
    creating a hierarchy of oppression?” Un-freakin’-believable. 

     

    LOL @ missing
    Dan Brown.  Yes, THE HELP phenomenon drives me nuts, but not more than the
    TWILIGHT one. As a novelist, it kills me that there are more 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Agreed!  If they
    cannot see that the perpetuation of one “ism” facilitates all others,
    our movements will continue to implode.  But that gets at precisely the
    problem with this particular issue:  they think that using the
    Lennon/Ono song is some indication that they understand intersectionality. And
    the irony doesn’t stop there, Grace.  This song and those who defend it in
    this context are willfully blind to the fact that this song ultimately argues
    that gender trumps race, and yet if you call that out, the response you get is,
    “Oh, so are you trying to say that Black women always have it worst and
    creating a hierarchy of oppression?” Un-freakin’-believable. 

     

    LOL @ missing
    Dan Brown.  Yes, THE HELP phenomenon drives me nuts, but not more than the
    TWILIGHT one. As a novelist, it kills me that there are more 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Agreed!  If they
    cannot see that the perpetuation of one “ism” facilitates all others,
    our movements will continue to implode.  But that gets at precisely the
    problem with this particular issue:  they think that using the
    Lennon/Ono song is some indication that they understand intersectionality. And
    the irony doesn’t stop there, Grace.  This song and those who defend it in
    this context are willfully blind to the fact that this song ultimately argues
    that gender trumps race, and yet if you call that out, the response you get is,
    “Oh, so are you trying to say that Black women always have it worst and
    creating a hierarchy of oppression?” Un-freakin’-believable. 

     

    LOL @ missing
    Dan Brown.  Yes, THE HELP phenomenon drives me nuts, but not more than the
    TWILIGHT one. As a novelist, it kills me that there are more 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Agreed!  If they
    cannot see that the perpetuation of one “ism” facilitates all others,
    our movements will continue to implode.  But that gets at precisely the
    problem with this particular issue:  they think that using the
    Lennon/Ono song is some indication that they understand intersectionality. And
    the irony doesn’t stop there, Grace.  This song and those who defend it in
    this context are willfully blind to the fact that this song ultimately argues
    that gender trumps race, and yet if you call that out, the response you get is,
    “Oh, so are you trying to say that Black women always have it worst and
    creating a hierarchy of oppression?” Un-freakin’-believable. 

     

    LOL @ missing
    Dan Brown.  Yes, THE HELP phenomenon drives me nuts, but not more than the
    TWILIGHT one. As a novelist, it kills me that there are more 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I just read a great
    rant recently where the refrain was, and I paraphrase, “My feminism will
    be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” THAT’S a principle on which
    universal solidarity can be built. The question will be who ultimately will
    sign on? I still want to be believe that it’s feasible; maybe what we have to
    let go is the notion that “universal” means “everyone.” In
    the end, some of the folks who claim to be down will prove to be otherwise, and
    perhaps we need to be able to part ways with them, understanding that some
    people we believed to be allies are really not that invested or committed. I’m
    all for struggling with people, but that’s something you earn, and someone who
    wants to defend the indefensible is telling us that they’re access to certain
    language is far more important to them than solidarity. It gets to the point
    where trying to make them “get” it is a waste of time and energy that
    is better invested in building meaningful relationships and movements who
    already “get” it. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I just read a great
    rant recently where the refrain was, and I paraphrase, “My feminism will
    be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” THAT’S a principle on which
    universal solidarity can be built. The question will be who ultimately will
    sign on? I still want to be believe that it’s feasible; maybe what we have to
    let go is the notion that “universal” means “everyone.” In
    the end, some of the folks who claim to be down will prove to be otherwise, and
    perhaps we need to be able to part ways with them, understanding that some
    people we believed to be allies are really not that invested or committed. I’m
    all for struggling with people, but that’s something you earn, and someone who
    wants to defend the indefensible is telling us that they’re access to certain
    language is far more important to them than solidarity. It gets to the point
    where trying to make them “get” it is a waste of time and energy that
    is better invested in building meaningful relationships and movements who
    already “get” it. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I just read a great
    rant recently where the refrain was, and I paraphrase, “My feminism will
    be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” THAT’S a principle on which
    universal solidarity can be built. The question will be who ultimately will
    sign on? I still want to be believe that it’s feasible; maybe what we have to
    let go is the notion that “universal” means “everyone.” In
    the end, some of the folks who claim to be down will prove to be otherwise, and
    perhaps we need to be able to part ways with them, understanding that some
    people we believed to be allies are really not that invested or committed. I’m
    all for struggling with people, but that’s something you earn, and someone who
    wants to defend the indefensible is telling us that they’re access to certain
    language is far more important to them than solidarity. It gets to the point
    where trying to make them “get” it is a waste of time and energy that
    is better invested in building meaningful relationships and movements who
    already “get” it. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I just read a great
    rant recently where the refrain was, and I paraphrase, “My feminism will
    be intersectional or it will be bullshit.” THAT’S a principle on which
    universal solidarity can be built. The question will be who ultimately will
    sign on? I still want to be believe that it’s feasible; maybe what we have to
    let go is the notion that “universal” means “everyone.” In
    the end, some of the folks who claim to be down will prove to be otherwise, and
    perhaps we need to be able to part ways with them, understanding that some
    people we believed to be allies are really not that invested or committed. I’m
    all for struggling with people, but that’s something you earn, and someone who
    wants to defend the indefensible is telling us that they’re access to certain
    language is far more important to them than solidarity. It gets to the point
    where trying to make them “get” it is a waste of time and energy that
    is better invested in building meaningful relationships and movements who
    already “get” it. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I’m
    glad that you liked it, Elise, and appreciate that you understand why this
    behavior is unacceptable. However, no need to bow down. Just keep fighting the
    good fighting and attempting to educate your friends as challenging as it may
    be. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I’m
    glad that you liked it, Elise, and appreciate that you understand why this
    behavior is unacceptable. However, no need to bow down. Just keep fighting the
    good fighting and attempting to educate your friends as challenging as it may
    be. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I’m
    glad that you liked it, Elise, and appreciate that you understand why this
    behavior is unacceptable. However, no need to bow down. Just keep fighting the
    good fighting and attempting to educate your friends as challenging as it may
    be. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    I’m
    glad that you liked it, Elise, and appreciate that you understand why this
    behavior is unacceptable. However, no need to bow down. Just keep fighting the
    good fighting and attempting to educate your friends as challenging as it may
    be. 

  • Pingback: Post Hiatus ranting: speaking for others « Another Nobody

  • Pingback: Auf die Bank « intersectionality boot camp

  • Pingback: Parks and Recreation Takes Brown v. Board Of Education Into The Wilderness | Racialicious - the intersection of race and pop culture

  • Jay

    Honestly, I (a white guy) don’t think anything about this post was harsh! On the contrary, I think you have gone way above and beyond to try to explain the feelings that are brought up when that word is used, and it is very generous and patient of you to spend time doing that. I hope it helps some people get it.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      I’d be lying if I said I wrote this from a place of generosity because that is not what I was feeling.  Ordinarily, I do err on the side of diplomacy in writing and speaking about these things, especially online where I do not have to benefit of body language and other markers to convey tone.  What drove me is the sheer anger at seeing women of color who, despite their critiques and concerns about the premise SlutWalk, who literally put their bodies on their line in support of its overarching message.  Whatever rightful misgivings they had about assembling public under the word “slut”, they — as White feminists are always pressing that they do — looked at the bigger picture, only for this to happen. It wasn’t even the initial transgression i.e. the sign that pushed me over the edge of diplomacy; it was the relentless and occasionally violent and vulgar defense of the trangression. I could’ve gotten over the ignorance of handful of women; but when waves of them — some who claim to find the word deplorable – invest so much time and energy to rationalize the ignorance of a few, well, they clearly came down on the side of whiteness over solidarity. So I took my position as loudly as they did theirs. *shrugs*

      • Jay

        *nod* That makes complete sense. And the anger came through, I didn’t mean to suggest it didn’t. The reason the piece nonetheless struck me as generous was that taking the time to set it all out so clearly, even while angry, implies that you believe the same people you’re rightly angry with do have the capacity to understand where you’re coming from. It assumes (or at least hopes) that they are smarter and more empathetic than is shown by their current behavior.

      • Jay

        *nod* That makes complete sense. And the anger came through, I didn’t mean to suggest it didn’t. The reason the piece nonetheless struck me as generous was that taking the time to set it all out so clearly, even while angry, implies that you believe the same people you’re rightly angry with do have the capacity to understand where you’re coming from. It assumes (or at least hopes) that they are smarter and more empathetic than is shown by their current behavior.

  • Jay

    Honestly, I (a white guy) don’t think anything about this post was harsh! On the contrary, I think you have gone way above and beyond to try to explain the feelings that are brought up when that word is used, and it is very generous and patient of you to spend time doing that. I hope it helps some people get it.

  • Pingback: Critical Mass Progress | White Women, Betrayal, and the N-word

  • Pingback: Developing Intersectional Solidarities: A Plea for Queer Intersectionality « Fedcan Blog

  • Sarah C.

    Yes, this was my question too! I am a college English teacher, and I teach a lot of African American authors. When my students read a scene from August Wilson’s Fences, how should I handle the repeated use of that word? I almost never quote the word if it’s used by a white author (say, Faulkner), although we certainly discuss its presence and significance. Somehow to me when the word is used in the context of an African American-authored text the whole power dynamic shifts, though. If I don’t quote it, how should I reference it? Should I spell it; should I call it the n-word? I hate altering a work of literature. My belief has been that not saying it in an academic context represented a flinching from the text and the history of American racism. I hate the word (grew up in a small town in the South and heard it used demeaningly and simply as a casual referent way too much) and would actually be happy to have a rationale for never using it, even in quoting an African American author, but what to substitute, and how to explain it to my students without sounding evasive? We do talk about how people who are not members of relevant groups have no right to use slurs or even appropriate in-group language.  And what about papers, can students write the word in an academic context. I also should say that I am very aware of the problem of white students enjoying quoting the word way too much, which is why I would never have students read a scene from Huckleberry Finn aloud–not that I teach Huck Finn. . .

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      To both Hetherlee and Sarah, speaking only for myself, I’m not an advocate of removing the word from the historical record or censoring it in literature and other arts, especially when its use is a reflection of a given period in time. I think removing it from those context actually makes things better worse not better.  Some things I would suggest: having a conversation about the word beforehand with your students specifically about this and coming to some agreement since it is their classroom as much as it is yours; juxtaposing it with the work of contemporaries of color (I mean, we can’t read everything in one course so why continue privilege Huck Finn over, say, the autobiographies of Booker T. Washington or Frederick Douglass, perpetuating the myth that American classic literature has only been penned by White authors); discussing potential strategies with other educators including African American English teachers even if you have to go outside your department, institution, etc. to find them. 

      • Sarah C.

        Thanks, Sofia. This was all very helpful.

      • Sarah C.

        Thanks, Sofia. This was all very helpful.

      • Sarah C.

        Thanks, Sofia. This was all very helpful.

      • DorothyP

        Choosing autobiography over fiction is a bad idea. There’s room for both. And if you can’t discuss the literature as written and discuss the context of the times (and today), then you’re missing the big picture. It’s not about a word–it’s about the mindset.

      • DorothyP

        Choosing autobiography over fiction is a bad idea. There’s room for both. And if you can’t discuss the literature as written and discuss the context of the times (and today), then you’re missing the big picture. It’s not about a word–it’s about the mindset.

      • DorothyP

        Choosing autobiography over fiction is a bad idea. There’s room for both. And if you can’t discuss the literature as written and discuss the context of the times (and today), then you’re missing the big picture. It’s not about a word–it’s about the mindset.

  • Sarah C.

    Yes, this was my question too! I am a college English teacher, and I teach a lot of African American authors. When my students read a scene from August Wilson’s Fences, how should I handle the repeated use of that word? I almost never quote the word if it’s used by a white author (say, Faulkner), although we certainly discuss its presence and significance. Somehow to me when the word is used in the context of an African American-authored text the whole power dynamic shifts, though. If I don’t quote it, how should I reference it? Should I spell it; should I call it the n-word? I hate altering a work of literature. My belief has been that not saying it in an academic context represented a flinching from the text and the history of American racism. I hate the word (grew up in a small town in the South and heard it used demeaningly and simply as a casual referent way too much) and would actually be happy to have a rationale for never using it, even in quoting an African American author, but what to substitute, and how to explain it to my students without sounding evasive? We do talk about how people who are not members of relevant groups have no right to use slurs or even appropriate in-group language.  And what about papers, can students write the word in an academic context. I also should say that I am very aware of the problem of white students enjoying quoting the word way too much, which is why I would never have students read a scene from Huckleberry Finn aloud–not that I teach Huck Finn. . .

  • Anonymous

    “White feminists still use the word bitch, but I don’t see you abiding for one second any man thinking he can do the same.”

    ‘Nuff said!

  • Pingback: WGS 201: Introduction to Womens & Gender Studies » new social movements, feminism, & identity politics

  • Jetesar

    Instead of watching “The Help”, how about reading Susan Straight instead?

  • B.Gribbs

    This is amazing. Especially this part:

    “Now back to you n-word loving White women. You want to show how hip you
    are? Stop listening to Yoko Ono and Kreayshawn and read a book, read a
    book, read a MF book. Preferably one by a Black feminist such as Audre
    Lorde or bell hooks. One course in an entire women’s studies program
    doesn’t cut it.”

    Well said.

  • TeakLipstickFiend

    Not harsh: necessary. And very well written. And sad that it had to be written.

  • http://www.examiner.com/family-in-new-york/rahela-choudhury RCHOUDH

    Thanks dp the Nina Simone song is so relevant to this issue!

    • dp

      No problem. Please understand that as a white guy I’m kind of feeling around here with no clue as to whether I’m a) adding to the conversation b) being offensive or c) being condescending. But yeah, I also recently read about how it was revealed that the Beatles put in their contracts that they wouldn’t play segregated venues. The response (at least on HuffPo) was “oh my god, they were even more lovable and brilliant and revolutionary than we thought, weren’t we all so wonderful.”  

  • Anonymous

    Right On !

  • theseattlegirl

    I have really learned a lot from this article and even the comments below. Thanks so much for making this a point of discussion and speaking openly about it.

    I don’t feel like I can add anything or take anything away. Just wanted to encourage you and let you know that someone out there is reading and learning (or in my case un-learning), slowly but surely.

  • Cerise Deslauriers

    I must not be deep enough to follow the logical journey that brings a white feminist out the other side thinking that she’s exempt from the big red flashing NOT ACCEPTABLE UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES  sign she’s surely got stapled to the inside of her eyelids. Seriously. People seem to like simple solutions, and I can’t think of a clearer example of when it really is – really – very simple. One line. Don’t cross it. Seriously, folks of my color, why are you fighting for reasons to say one goddamned word?

    Bravo for the Carrie illustration. As a white lady who’ll go to my grave trying to ‘get it’ (I mean that with all my heart) anything that helps me take in an emotional reaction that I may myself *never experience* helps so much.

  • Anonymous

    Hence my aversion to white “progressives”.  What’s even more disturbing is the unwillingness of these white progressives to STOP their racist behavior after people have called them out. 

    I’m disgusted that these people are so hellbent on using the N-word.  White privilege is blinding.

  • Anonymous

    Old white feminist here. I have never heard that word from a white person who WASN’T a racist.
    Now apparently some young white women think it’s…..cool?
    No. It’s. Not.
    It’s a word that encapsulates a world of hurt. Real pain inflicted on real people. It will never ever in a million years be OK for a white person to utter such a vile, hateful, nasty word. There’s no “extracting” it from context. It will always be a word that carries a burden of suffering. And none of it is white folks’ suffering.
    The whole thing is appalling. Why should Black people have to keep teaching dumb white kids when it’s so obvious?!

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      I think one of the things that is tripping us up in this particular instance is (1) that the phrase in question was used in a pop song and (2) that the users didn’t have “racist” intent.  Of course, those things are cited to deflect from the third and most important fact: the word encapsulates a world of hurt as you eloquently put it. But you’d be surprise how often the visceral reaction is, “They didn’t mean it THAT way?” Nor can they understand that their insistence when the response is, “So effin’ what? Knock that it off,” actually gets people of color, “Gee, you do doth protest too much… I wasn’t telling you to stop using it because I actually thought you were a racist,  but now I wonder…” 

  • yessss

    SLOW CLAP. SLOW CLAP, GIRL.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=712757751 Rachel Hiltsley

    as i white feminist all i can say is oh my god i am so sorry. i seriously want to throw up about all of this. really? really ladies? i know it doesn’t really mean much but i’m really just so so bummed about this. and i’m really really sorry. 
    thank you for calling us on our shit. please keep doing it.

  • mar_pan

    I am a white woman, and this is so
    frustrating to me. I don’t know why WE feel it is okay to distance
    ourselves from a characteristic (race) that determines so many of the
    ways we are treated in our society/country/world. We are not just
    women; we are WHITE women. And the fact that we are white women is
    the reason we have historically been (and continue to be) able to use
    the word “woman” to mean “white woman,” the reason we have
    been able to pretend we are race-less, and the reason that, even if
    we do acknowledge our whiteness, we are still able to talk about
    “white women” as if we don’t really belong to that group and as
    if we have the right to be treated as “individuals” when other
    women have never had this privilege. We, as white women, CANNOT
    claim/deny our race at our convenience. We have to take
    responsibility for educating ourselves and standing up when one of US
    is wrong.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Thank you, mar_pan. You’re spot-on. I’m curious as to what has been the reaction when you say this to other White women. 

  • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

    Thanks to everyone who has commented and shared. I will be responding to some of the longer comments once I address some work obligations.  I may have rhetorically “dropped the mic,” but I know the conversation is bigger than the n-word and must continue. For now I’ll say that I’m glad this resonated with so many people beyond race and gender, and your willingness to take a moment to read and respond is heartening, and that is so much needed right now if we are to learn and build from these experiences rather than just walk away. I specifically hope that any women of color who took the risk of participating in SlutWalk despite valid critiques and concerns read your comments and know that they have support.

  • Pingback: What We Missed

  • http://twitter.com/ASamBurton Samantha Burton

    What an incredibly poignant, passionate piece.

    Using the n-word doesn’t make you a Cool White Chick. It makes you an Uninformed White Chick who, I completely agree, needs to “read a book, read a book, read a MF book. Preferably one by a Black feminist such as Audre Lorde or bell hooks.” But, as you say, there are “white feminists who get it” out there. I know quite a few (and I hope to be counted amongst) white (and mixed) feminists who know that using the n-word is never going to be ‘empowering’ or ‘in solidarity’ or anything but offensive and ignorant coming out of our mouths. And I’d like to think that we wouldn’t be afraid to tell a CWC just that, should the situation arise.

    I was particularly struck by your line – “Until we make some meaningful progress in defeating racism, White
    anti-racists have their own lane. You truly want to be an ally? Stay in
    it.”

    I think that this is a harsh truth very few want to admit. For some reason, many people act like admitting to difference is the same as harboring a racial bias. But eliminating racism is NOT the same as eliminating difference. I don’t
    think any of us want the latter, and we need to stop conflating the two.

    Because the truth is, there are inherently inescapable differences (in experience, in reception, in countless other contextual ways) between white anti-racists and anti-racists of color. I think that acknowledging and embodying this truth is the only way that we can truly move forward, together.

    Everything in this article needed to be said–and it needed to be said by a black woman.
    Thank you.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      It needs to be said by all of us who understand what is just. And you hit at an enduring problem with building cross-race alliances towards eliminating racism: the conflating of eliminating racism with eradicating difference. Ignoring difference is neither a goal or a strategy, and perhaps we were presumptuous in our belief that we all got this. 

      Now some folks would quibble with me about telling White anti-racists to stay in their lane. It was even put to me by someone I respect who is either White or Black, that even the word “ally” is problematic because it suggest that White folks (or any other group in a position of privilege toward another, marginalized group) don’t have a vested interested in eliminating racism. That it has some kind of permanent ring to it. I get that. I really do. But we all know that language is and perhaps always will be evolving yet imperfect and we have to (re)start somewhere. 

      Identity politics has its limits but that hasn’t rendered them completely useless just yet, has it? 

  • Anonymous

    Let me just speak to my fellow young white feminists for a moment…

    Listen, when you go ahead and insist over and over again, despite the constant objections of Women of Color, that you could not have done something racist because we are so pure of heart and “the last person who would ever be called a racist”, here is what you are up to. You are invoking – whether in ignorance or out of conscious malice – the racialized, patriarchal image of white women as the soft and delicate archetype of purity. Actually, white woman as childlike half-human non-adult who cannot be called to account for her actions because she is just incapable of acting with malice aforethought or indeed with any kind of forethought at all. When I see you flop around in text form on the Internet, calling down the spirit of the Southern Belle who knows just when to let a solitary tear roll down her porcelain cheek, who comes down with the vapors at the slightest suggestion that she might not be anything other than a very breakable vessel of pure grace and love, it makes me want to fucking puke.

    This is what YOU are doing: selling out your feminist principles in order to climb back into the gilded cage in which you don’t have to take responsibility for your own words and actions, because you are just a harmless girl who could just never hurt a fly. And to what end? Because you understand that once ensconced in the cage of white womanhood, you can rip out one of the bars of that cage, sharpen it, and use it as a weapon against the WoC who are rightfully calling you out. 

    Are you a little girl or are you a grownass woman? Come.The.Fck.On. and take responsibility for your words. Because they stink to high heaven, no matter how many perfumed handkerchiefs you wave around.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      THIS ALL DAY.  Do you have a blog? This comment requires its own space in the blogosphere to which it can be linked, bookmarked, etc. I’m definitely hitting “Share this.” 

      • Anonymous

        Oh, thank you, I’m very flattered! I actually don’t have a blog, but if you have any ideas of where the comment could end up, let me know. Or feel free to post it as “a comment I received on a post I wrote” or something, wherever you like.

  • http://www.examiner.com/family-in-new-york/rahela-choudhury RCHOUDH

    I wonder if anyone told the second woman with that stupid poster to put it down…and aren’t white feminists aware of the fact that the reason why they can say they want to fight sexism before racism is because they have the privilege not to experience racism in white-dominated Western society??? And I hate how some of them get all patronizing about other women’s causes and act like they can serve as wise mentors to other women and pay lip service to other women’s issues but when real action is needed they’re nowhere to be found; worse yet some of them even oppose the solutions POC women may have devised themselves to rectify their own situations. 

  • http://twitter.com/eshowman Friday Foster

    Excellent commentary! Even after this mess a white feminist came to another blog site with the white women were property too bit. When her idiocy was challenged, she boo hood and blubbered about how mean we were. Why can’t these women tolerate the discomfort of recognizing white privilege for one moment and realize that it is in no way  equivalent to what a WOC goes through everyday? 

    • Anonymous

      WWT. White Women’s Tears. Classing derailing maneuver.

      • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

        I wonder how many of them realize we have a name for it. No, I’m not joking. I truly do. I wonder if they know, and if they didn’t but found out, what if anything might change? You would think that they would be horrified to be perceived as such. No feminist wants to believe that she has the capacity to be emotionally manipulative at all never mind in movement spaces. That’s supposed to be the patriarchal woman’s favorite tool. I think it would be particularly searing to discover that other feminists perceive one as living down to a pernicious stereotype of male-identified women; it gets hard to dismiss if a comrade — as opposed to a sexist man — is calling you out on this. Maybe it’s time to put an end to the inside joke. Hmmm….

        • Anonymous

          Hmm, I always thought it was a bit more well known? Googling the phrase will bring up some good discussions of it like the one at Abagond and “Stuff White People Do”. Perhaps there could be a Racialicious post about it. That will be a controversial one for sure.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      This is a common maneuver for sure. Yet it never works!  It only guarantees different levels of movement failure. At best, nothing is learned or resolved as folks rush to appease the White woman who behaves this way, the women of color drop it and, everyone makes a tacit agreement to act like nothing happened which we fail at, too.  That’s when relationships are shattered, folks suddenly get too busy to do the work – political and otherwise — and feminist organizations shrink to a handful of people who eventually burn out. 

      At worst, it gets very ugly, going from bad to worse. Especially if the women of color don’t fall for it and decide to call out this emotional manipulation for what it is.  We see this happening with SlutWalk right now. 

      In all scenarios, the women of color – especially if they’re Black women, Goddess help them — get cast as angry and unreasonable. Somehow it becomes all our fault for not enduring the pain in silence for this mythological bigger picture of monochromatic womanhood. The only difference in outcome seems to be whether or not women of color are at peace with the role projected onto them and behave accordingly. 
      It’s happening right now in the discussions of the implosion of SlutWalk in the aftermath of this incident. One White woman issued a bit of a “faux-pology” then quit the movement so to speak.  While I don’t feel her remorse was completely disingenuous, she did race to victim status and then walked away which itself not possible without  privilege. In the words of an African American woman who was at the receiving end of this woman’s vitriol, she gave the best apology she could given who/where she is right now. That said, it helps no one — including the White woman who responds to accountability this way. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      This is a common maneuver for sure. Yet it never works!  It only guarantees different levels of movement failure. At best, nothing is learned or resolved as folks rush to appease the White woman who behaves this way, the women of color drop it and, everyone makes a tacit agreement to act like nothing happened which we fail at, too.  That’s when relationships are shattered, folks suddenly get too busy to do the work – political and otherwise — and feminist organizations shrink to a handful of people who eventually burn out. 

      At worst, it gets very ugly, going from bad to worse. Especially if the women of color don’t fall for it and decide to call out this emotional manipulation for what it is.  We see this happening with SlutWalk right now. 

      In all scenarios, the women of color – especially if they’re Black women, Goddess help them — get cast as angry and unreasonable. Somehow it becomes all our fault for not enduring the pain in silence for this mythological bigger picture of monochromatic womanhood. The only difference in outcome seems to be whether or not women of color are at peace with the role projected onto them and behave accordingly. 
      It’s happening right now in the discussions of the implosion of SlutWalk in the aftermath of this incident. One White woman issued a bit of a “faux-pology” then quit the movement so to speak.  While I don’t feel her remorse was completely disingenuous, she did race to victim status and then walked away which itself not possible without  privilege. In the words of an African American woman who was at the receiving end of this woman’s vitriol, she gave the best apology she could given who/where she is right now. That said, it helps no one — including the White woman who responds to accountability this way. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      This is a common maneuver for sure. Yet it never works!  It only guarantees different levels of movement failure. At best, nothing is learned or resolved as folks rush to appease the White woman who behaves this way, the women of color drop it and, everyone makes a tacit agreement to act like nothing happened which we fail at, too.  That’s when relationships are shattered, folks suddenly get too busy to do the work – political and otherwise — and feminist organizations shrink to a handful of people who eventually burn out. 

      At worst, it gets very ugly, going from bad to worse. Especially if the women of color don’t fall for it and decide to call out this emotional manipulation for what it is.  We see this happening with SlutWalk right now. 

      In all scenarios, the women of color – especially if they’re Black women, Goddess help them — get cast as angry and unreasonable. Somehow it becomes all our fault for not enduring the pain in silence for this mythological bigger picture of monochromatic womanhood. The only difference in outcome seems to be whether or not women of color are at peace with the role projected onto them and behave accordingly. 
      It’s happening right now in the discussions of the implosion of SlutWalk in the aftermath of this incident. One White woman issued a bit of a “faux-pology” then quit the movement so to speak.  While I don’t feel her remorse was completely disingenuous, she did race to victim status and then walked away which itself not possible without  privilege. In the words of an African American woman who was at the receiving end of this woman’s vitriol, she gave the best apology she could given who/where she is right now. That said, it helps no one — including the White woman who responds to accountability this way. 

  • Matt Pizzuti

    In the clip from The View … Barbara Walters seems to be saying, essentially, (or where I assume she is coming from), that since a reporter should be neutral the reporter gets the automatic assumption of neutrality when it comes to repeating language.  A reporter can therefore “re-play” the word as if the reporter her/himself were a tape recorder.

    And I think that position is wrong. I’m sure Walters would “get the point” if the issue was using a cuss word on TV, which she wouldn’t repeat out of respect to audience members, so what the heck? Why do a black person’s feelings about a particular word count less than, say, an elderly white woman who would be shocked if a reporter repeated the “f-word?”

    Walters can’t grasp Sherri Shepherd’s position that repeating the word is an intrinsically non-neutral position; it is essentially taking the position that it is okay for a white person to do so under such-and-such circumstances in spite of how members of your audience (the ones it most directly pertains to in fact) feel about it. I think a journalistic viewpoint would side with Shepard considering how easy it is to present the information without repeating the word.

    But I liked the exchange as a whole for a couple reasons:

    First, I think it demonstrated that a person of color can and should be able to call out a white friend without it becoming about whether the white person is “A RACIST” as if it is an on-off switch.  It doesn’t require the person of color to somehow disown the friend. That may certainly happen – and may be appropriate – but the person of color isn’t forced to have it that way.

    Although, thinking about it a little more, the fact that Shepherd had to tell Walters she knows she’s not racist was sad.

    Second, it demonstrated that there can be multiple black perspectives on a black issue or experience and just because they disagree doesn’t mean the one making fewer excuses is unreasonable. 

    Third, I think it demonstrated that you don’t have to “get it” or even to agree to simply change your behavior out of respect, which Walters can and should have done. What would have been better is if her approach was “I respect your feeling and I’m sorry” even if she continues to question and even if she continues to disagree intellectually. The fact that no one made that point is also too bad.

    I don’t know if everyone in the show’s audience has the grounding to come away with that perspective, but I do believe at least that exposure to heartfelt personal perspectives and accounts is extremely effective at initiating change, probably much more so than academic or political arguments (though those are important). And kudos to Shepherd for speaking up about how she feels in spite of what some of her colleagues or people in the unseen audience would think – it takes guts to take that risk and it increased my respect for her.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Matt, there is so much “this!” in your comment, I very much appreciate it. An entire workshop can be organized on this segment, and the points you made could be learning objectives. 

      Interestingly, I know some folks who were primarily upset with Sherri for not being able to check Barbara much more effectively. One of their arguments is that this is what Sherri is paid to do so she and so her ineptitude or should not earn a pass because she is in the right. As disappointed as I was in her, I can’t agree given how callous Barbara’s response is. And honestly if Sherri was capable of doing that, would she be on this show? I think not. She’s there precisely because when it comes to matters of substance, she CANNOT take Barbara to task. 
      In fact, I am far more sickened at how Barbara pulls every card out the deck to trivialize Sherri’s feelings. It was more important for her to be right than to assuage Sherri’s hurt. She pulled the reporter card, the liberal card, the friendship card…  Even if she ultimately failed, I think we gotta give Sherri credit for having enough heart to push on instead falling back. Indeed, it is Barbara who shuts down the conversation because despite all her flailing, Sherri wouldn’t drop it. Then Sherri dared to make the comparison to anti-Semitic language, and I don’t know how accurate never mind strategic that was, but that was when Barbara was done. Her answer to Sherri’s invitation to have dinner – a clear way to signal “This is not philosophical now, it’s personal, so let’s move it to safer space for both of us”  - was nothing short of a f*** you. It was downright repugnant. 

  • Thorpefinn531

    Yes!! Way to say it loud and clear, this  language issue-  the fact that it’s even an issue- is totally ludacris.  You say something, someone find it offensive,  apologize, don’t do it again. Done.  See how  easy that was?

  • BSK

    “…why it is never appropriate for a self-proclaimed White feminist ally to use this racial slur.”

    It is never appropriate for anyone to use that term as a slur*.

    (*I’m not wading into the conversation of the use of a derivative of that word within POC communities as a reclaimed term.  As a white person, I don’t think it is my place to be in that conversation.)

  • Anonymous

    I also think that inherent in this problem is that some progressives also seem to think that they have “rain-check” thanks to their oppression and their supposed liberalism.  They feel entitled to use this word and co-opt other racial slurs because of all of the “work” that they do on our behalf.   They loved the movie “The Help” because it confirms to them how important they were in liberating black people in this country.  It promotes a false sisterhood theme that does not match the experience of black women who have attempted to participate in the feminist movement.  Of course, “The Help” is a fantasy, and I shudder to think about how many black men were maimed and lynched in defense of WW’s honor, or just whenever they chose to make a black man a scapegoat for their own transgressions.
    One huge issue is that SO many supposed anti-racists are really big racists but don’t think that they are because they aren’t from the South, aren’t in the Klan, and see themselves as being so hugely oppressed.For me, as a WOC, it’s hard to agree that WW are such an oppressed group when they are only second to white men in this society, and can use their femininity to “beat” white men in some situations.   And for the economically privileged, the main change for them was that their degrees from elite schools can now be used for employment when they feel like it (when at one point, a Seven Sisters grad would just get married and call it a day).  They have benefited so much from the Civil Rights movement, yet do not want to treat WOC as equals within the feminist movement.It’s funny…they do not want to cede any ground to share the feminist movement with women of color, nor do they want to give up any of the privilege that they get simply by being WW in America.  You can’t cling so tightly to your number two status and then tell WOC that you are more oppressed than they are.  And add me to the list of people who is so sick of the argument that you can use the n-word b/c of what Lil Wayne and Drake say, or because you have some ridiculous, spineless black friend who lets you abuse her.  

    • Jlilangel2006

      Thumbs up! I could never have said it better myself.

    • Anonymous

      “. . . or just whenever they chose to make a black man a scapegoat for their own transgressions.”

      That’s Rosewood, Florida right there. White people will make a whole fucking town of blacks disappear just b/c of some allegation that a white woman was raped by a black man.

      “And for the economically privileged, the main change for them was that
      their degrees from elite schools can now be used for employment when
      they feel like it (when at one point, a Seven Sisters grad would just
      get married and call it a day).”

      Reminds me of the whole “ring by spring” phenomenon I hear about at a southern Illinois college. I can’t imagine too many women of color participating in such a thing. It sounds unreasonable to waste so much money enrolling in college just so you can find a potential/rich career man to marry.

      • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

        And the past is very much present when on a regular basis we have cases of White people who have committed crimes against their intimates immediately telling law enforcement that the perpetrator was a person of color – usually a Black man.  

      • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

        And the past is very much present when on a regular basis we have cases of White people who have committed crimes against their intimates immediately telling law enforcement that the perpetrator was a person of color – usually a Black man.  

      • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

        And the past is very much present when on a regular basis we have cases of White people who have committed crimes against their intimates immediately telling law enforcement that the perpetrator was a person of color – usually a Black man.  

      • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

        And the past is very much present when on a regular basis we have cases of White people who have committed crimes against their intimates immediately telling law enforcement that the perpetrator was a person of color – usually a Black man.  

      • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

        And the past is very much present when on a regular basis we have cases of White people who have committed crimes against their intimates immediately telling law enforcement that the perpetrator was a person of color – usually a Black man.  

      • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

        And the past is very much present when on a regular basis we have cases of White people who have committed crimes against their intimates immediately telling law enforcement that the perpetrator was a person of color – usually a Black man.  

    • http://twitter.com/sahar54 Sahar

      I agree with you that there is a huge problem with white progressives believing that are not racist just because they happen not to be conservative and show blatant explicit bias. This type of aversive racism has been confirmed through research as something that definitely occurs with a lot of white liberals. One example is a study where white liberals were less likely to help a black person in need if they think other people are watching. 

      I think that the true white anti-racists will be in complete recognition of the privilege that being white confers to them, and not see being anti-racist as being a getting out of jail free card on saying racist shit. 

      The only little quibble I have is that I think that it is still important to recognize that women as a whole are an oppressed group in society. This oppression can be made a hell of a lot worse by a dual identity as a women of color, lgbtq, or being of an economically underprivileged class, and it is important that this fact not be erased. But being a women means you will only have 17% representation in congress, virtually no representation as leaders of top companies, be payed 70 cents on the dollar in comparison to men, be treated as an object and not as a person and most recently, have legislation passed saying that you can be left to die rather than getting a life-saving abortion. 

      • Holly

        Your “quibble” almost discounts that women of color are indeed women at all. We don’t have to be lectured about the disadvantages that women face in this society. We know all too well. When racism is pointed out to many white women who should be my allies, they also point out the inequalities that “women” face.

        Do I need to reach back 2 centuries to Sojourner Truth? Ain’t I a woman?

      • Holly

        Your “quibble” almost discounts that women of color are indeed women at all. We don’t have to be lectured about the disadvantages that women face in this society. We know all too well. When racism is pointed out to many white women who should be my allies, they also point out the inequalities that “women” face.

        Do I need to reach back 2 centuries to Sojourner Truth? Ain’t I a woman?

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      nicthommi, thank you
      for raising an excellent point re: liberal and progressive White folks who see
      themselves as non-racist because they have separated themselves from people
      stereotyped as racist e.g. Southerners. Isn’t one of the challenges we have had
      in eliminating classism is that White working and poor folks identify with that
      one per cent on the grounds of shared Whiteness as opposed to the people of
      color with whom they have more in common economically. Yet we have liberal and
      progressive White people attempting to distance themselves from other White
      people as a way to deny their racial privilege.  The irony continues.
      Gimme the Klansman – at least I know where I stand from jump and the
      unpleasantries won’t be surprises.  And that’s only one truth that you’ve
      added to this discussion with this post. The ability of White women to evoke
      and ignore history as it suits them makes me want to scream.  Thank
      you! 

       

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      nicthommi, thank you
      for raising an excellent point re: liberal and progressive White folks who see
      themselves as non-racist because they have separated themselves from people
      stereotyped as racist e.g. Southerners. Isn’t one of the challenges we have had
      in eliminating classism is that White working and poor folks identify with that
      one per cent on the grounds of shared Whiteness as opposed to the people of
      color with whom they have more in common economically. Yet we have liberal and
      progressive White people attempting to distance themselves from other White
      people as a way to deny their racial privilege.  The irony continues.
      Gimme the Klansman – at least I know where I stand from jump and the
      unpleasantries won’t be surprises.  And that’s only one truth that you’ve
      added to this discussion with this post. The ability of White women to evoke
      and ignore history as it suits them makes me want to scream.  Thank
      you! 

       

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      nicthommi, thank you
      for raising an excellent point re: liberal and progressive White folks who see
      themselves as non-racist because they have separated themselves from people
      stereotyped as racist e.g. Southerners. Isn’t one of the challenges we have had
      in eliminating classism is that White working and poor folks identify with that
      one per cent on the grounds of shared Whiteness as opposed to the people of
      color with whom they have more in common economically. Yet we have liberal and
      progressive White people attempting to distance themselves from other White
      people as a way to deny their racial privilege.  The irony continues.
      Gimme the Klansman – at least I know where I stand from jump and the
      unpleasantries won’t be surprises.  And that’s only one truth that you’ve
      added to this discussion with this post. The ability of White women to evoke
      and ignore history as it suits them makes me want to scream.  Thank
      you! 

       

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      nicthommi, thank you
      for raising an excellent point re: liberal and progressive White folks who see
      themselves as non-racist because they have separated themselves from people
      stereotyped as racist e.g. Southerners. Isn’t one of the challenges we have had
      in eliminating classism is that White working and poor folks identify with that
      one per cent on the grounds of shared Whiteness as opposed to the people of
      color with whom they have more in common economically. Yet we have liberal and
      progressive White people attempting to distance themselves from other White
      people as a way to deny their racial privilege.  The irony continues.
      Gimme the Klansman – at least I know where I stand from jump and the
      unpleasantries won’t be surprises.  And that’s only one truth that you’ve
      added to this discussion with this post. The ability of White women to evoke
      and ignore history as it suits them makes me want to scream.  Thank
      you! 

       

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      nicthommi, thank you
      for raising an excellent point re: liberal and progressive White folks who see
      themselves as non-racist because they have separated themselves from people
      stereotyped as racist e.g. Southerners. Isn’t one of the challenges we have had
      in eliminating classism is that White working and poor folks identify with that
      one per cent on the grounds of shared Whiteness as opposed to the people of
      color with whom they have more in common economically. Yet we have liberal and
      progressive White people attempting to distance themselves from other White
      people as a way to deny their racial privilege.  The irony continues.
      Gimme the Klansman – at least I know where I stand from jump and the
      unpleasantries won’t be surprises.  And that’s only one truth that you’ve
      added to this discussion with this post. The ability of White women to evoke
      and ignore history as it suits them makes me want to scream.  Thank
      you! 

       

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      nicthommi, thank you
      for raising an excellent point re: liberal and progressive White folks who see
      themselves as non-racist because they have separated themselves from people
      stereotyped as racist e.g. Southerners. Isn’t one of the challenges we have had
      in eliminating classism is that White working and poor folks identify with that
      one per cent on the grounds of shared Whiteness as opposed to the people of
      color with whom they have more in common economically. Yet we have liberal and
      progressive White people attempting to distance themselves from other White
      people as a way to deny their racial privilege.  The irony continues.
      Gimme the Klansman – at least I know where I stand from jump and the
      unpleasantries won’t be surprises.  And that’s only one truth that you’ve
      added to this discussion with this post. The ability of White women to evoke
      and ignore history as it suits them makes me want to scream.  Thank
      you! 

       

  • pants

    This white feminist from Scandinavia thanks you for writing this post. I’m saving for future use as every time the n-word argument comes up, I get incoherent with rage and just want to scream. Why anyone would insist they have the right to use that word is just beyond my comprehension. (Unless they are an utter asshole of course, and aware of it.) Especially the “my black friend Susie doesn’t mind me calling her that!” argument boggles my mind. Why do you call her that? How did you ever come to call her that?? Have you tried calling Susie, say, “cum guzzling cunt” too, just to see how she’ll take it? Why ever call a friend, or anyone for that matter, something that might hurt them? 

    Anyway, yeah, it’s race fails like this SlutWalk sign and the following FB fail that make me want to give up on the feminist movement entirely. Thank you again for this post. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      OMG, pants, and folks
      say I went in!  ;-) Thank YOU.  I, too, wonder a lot about the
      personal history of people  – both their individual and relationship
      history – where this kind of talk occurs and refashioned as some kind of
      affection. I’m genuinely curious because i can’t imagine how two people who
      deeply know and love each other get to the point where using such words with
      one another becomes a hallmark of intimacy as opposed to a commitment to
      eradicating this kind of language.  The exception to this: I  once
      met two older radical feminists – one White, one Black, the best of lifelong
      friends — who loved to use racially charged language with each other IN PUBLIC
      for the distinct purpose of fucking with people. ;-) 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      OMG, pants, and folks
      say I went in!  ;-) Thank YOU.  I, too, wonder a lot about the
      personal history of people  – both their individual and relationship
      history – where this kind of talk occurs and refashioned as some kind of
      affection. I’m genuinely curious because i can’t imagine how two people who
      deeply know and love each other get to the point where using such words with
      one another becomes a hallmark of intimacy as opposed to a commitment to
      eradicating this kind of language.  The exception to this: I  once
      met two older radical feminists – one White, one Black, the best of lifelong
      friends — who loved to use racially charged language with each other IN PUBLIC
      for the distinct purpose of fucking with people. ;-) 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      OMG, pants, and folks
      say I went in!  ;-) Thank YOU.  I, too, wonder a lot about the
      personal history of people  – both their individual and relationship
      history – where this kind of talk occurs and refashioned as some kind of
      affection. I’m genuinely curious because i can’t imagine how two people who
      deeply know and love each other get to the point where using such words with
      one another becomes a hallmark of intimacy as opposed to a commitment to
      eradicating this kind of language.  The exception to this: I  once
      met two older radical feminists – one White, one Black, the best of lifelong
      friends — who loved to use racially charged language with each other IN PUBLIC
      for the distinct purpose of fucking with people. ;-) 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      OMG, pants, and folks
      say I went in!  ;-) Thank YOU.  I, too, wonder a lot about the
      personal history of people  – both their individual and relationship
      history – where this kind of talk occurs and refashioned as some kind of
      affection. I’m genuinely curious because i can’t imagine how two people who
      deeply know and love each other get to the point where using such words with
      one another becomes a hallmark of intimacy as opposed to a commitment to
      eradicating this kind of language.  The exception to this: I  once
      met two older radical feminists – one White, one Black, the best of lifelong
      friends — who loved to use racially charged language with each other IN PUBLIC
      for the distinct purpose of fucking with people. ;-) 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      OMG, pants, and folks
      say I went in!  ;-) Thank YOU.  I, too, wonder a lot about the
      personal history of people  – both their individual and relationship
      history – where this kind of talk occurs and refashioned as some kind of
      affection. I’m genuinely curious because i can’t imagine how two people who
      deeply know and love each other get to the point where using such words with
      one another becomes a hallmark of intimacy as opposed to a commitment to
      eradicating this kind of language.  The exception to this: I  once
      met two older radical feminists – one White, one Black, the best of lifelong
      friends — who loved to use racially charged language with each other IN PUBLIC
      for the distinct purpose of fucking with people. ;-) 

  • Blr3z8

    Amen and amen! 

  • Siloqui87

    *applause*

    White women have hung women of color out to dry in the pursuit of their own rights many times, namely in the heavy opposition to the Civil Rights movement or the right to vote.  White women have enjoyed many a privilege in this country, and many came to many a lynching (or caused a lynching)  during those horrible times.  I always find it laughable that white women think they’re entitled to appropriate a history of oppression that (decades ago) many of them would have allowed or encouraged.  The ad thing is, that white women seem to forget that there is a whole other world when it comes to women of color, and those WoC receive a hell of a lot of punches for being non-white AND a woman.  All. Over. The. World.  You don’t see them standing up for sex-workers or lesbian women, transgender or even the women forced to be sex slaves in civil wars across the globe.  But those aren’t the “real issues” because they don’t primary affect white, straight, cisgendered women.  Instead they force these women to make a choice between who they are and their gender.  They’re supposed to either treat the problems of white women as their priority (even while they are being degraded by them to make a point) or lose their identity.  It’s a rock and a hard place; either you are invisible or your the bad guy.    

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      THIS! Some of the (I
      presume) white women who have been commenting on my blog
      need to read your comment. I hope you’ll consider copying and pasting it over
      there.  Here’s what I don’t get — how you’re going to say you stand for
      ALL women and be so defiantly ignorant of any other women’s history outside of
      White, straight, cisgendered women in the United States and maaaaaybe
      Europe?  SMH. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      THIS! Some of the (I
      presume) white women who have been commenting on my blog
      need to read your comment. I hope you’ll consider copying and pasting it over
      there.  Here’s what I don’t get — how you’re going to say you stand for
      ALL women and be so defiantly ignorant of any other women’s history outside of
      White, straight, cisgendered women in the United States and maaaaaybe
      Europe?  SMH. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      THIS! Some of the (I
      presume) white women who have been commenting on my blog
      need to read your comment. I hope you’ll consider copying and pasting it over
      there.  Here’s what I don’t get — how you’re going to say you stand for
      ALL women and be so defiantly ignorant of any other women’s history outside of
      White, straight, cisgendered women in the United States and maaaaaybe
      Europe?  SMH. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      THIS! Some of the (I
      presume) white women who have been commenting on my blog
      need to read your comment. I hope you’ll consider copying and pasting it over
      there.  Here’s what I don’t get — how you’re going to say you stand for
      ALL women and be so defiantly ignorant of any other women’s history outside of
      White, straight, cisgendered women in the United States and maaaaaybe
      Europe?  SMH. 

  • http://soyluv.wordpress.com/ soyluv

    “Stop listening to Yoko Ono and Kreayshawn and read a book, read a book, read a MF book.”

    a to the men!

  • Lois

    Amen!! 

  • meghan

    A million times yes. THANK YOU.

  • Jinx J

    This is a very interesting topic. It’s as if people are trying to show just how unprivileged they are and so use these words as a way to connect with an oppressed group. Like, “I will use this word and people will DEF see me as oppressed and an ally, and it’ll all be wonderful and we can hug and sing kumbaya.”

     So of course when you call them out on it, they get offended. In their heads, they’re trying to help.

    It’s all just so messed up, but I feel that repeating the message doesn’t help. Someone will think it applies to other, less altruistic, down for the struggle people and never to them. So no, you can’t use ANY type of slur that applies to people and think it’s okay.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Yes, there are many people
      for whom this is the line of thinking perhaps subconciously. My experience has
      been that these are people who think denying their race will somehow eradicate
      their racial privilege; but the result is not only a sociopolitical nightmare,
      it can be personally damaging. There’s a lot about racial identity development
      (at least with respect to White and Black) in the psychology literature, and
      the denial of race (which happens in both groups albeit differently) is NOT the
      highest level of maturation for either community. An interesting even if flawed
      cinematic examination of this is the film WHITE BOYZ written by and starring
      actor and activist Danny Hoch based on one of his stage characters – a white
      aspiring rapper in Kansas (I believe) whose aspirations to Blackness are
      undeniably away to escape his economic condition. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Yes, there are many people
      for whom this is the line of thinking perhaps subconciously. My experience has
      been that these are people who think denying their race will somehow eradicate
      their racial privilege; but the result is not only a sociopolitical nightmare,
      it can be personally damaging. There’s a lot about racial identity development
      (at least with respect to White and Black) in the psychology literature, and
      the denial of race (which happens in both groups albeit differently) is NOT the
      highest level of maturation for either community. An interesting even if flawed
      cinematic examination of this is the film WHITE BOYZ written by and starring
      actor and activist Danny Hoch based on one of his stage characters – a white
      aspiring rapper in Kansas (I believe) whose aspirations to Blackness are
      undeniably away to escape his economic condition. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Yes, there are many people
      for whom this is the line of thinking perhaps subconciously. My experience has
      been that these are people who think denying their race will somehow eradicate
      their racial privilege; but the result is not only a sociopolitical nightmare,
      it can be personally damaging. There’s a lot about racial identity development
      (at least with respect to White and Black) in the psychology literature, and
      the denial of race (which happens in both groups albeit differently) is NOT the
      highest level of maturation for either community. An interesting even if flawed
      cinematic examination of this is the film WHITE BOYZ written by and starring
      actor and activist Danny Hoch based on one of his stage characters – a white
      aspiring rapper in Kansas (I believe) whose aspirations to Blackness are
      undeniably away to escape his economic condition. 

  • Grace

    Now, my thoughts on Slutwalk and OWS inclusion have been this: how do we get the white folks who actually need to read this stuff to see it? You can lead a horse to water, as they say… -__-

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Grace, such a good
      question. White allies can be vital here. They won’t always succeed, but they
      needn’t reach everyone.  If we have
      critical mass, perhaps we can affect meaningful change. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Grace, such a good
      question. White allies can be vital here. They won’t always succeed, but they
      needn’t reach everyone.  If we have
      critical mass, perhaps we can affect meaningful change. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Grace, such a good
      question. White allies can be vital here. They won’t always succeed, but they
      needn’t reach everyone.  If we have
      critical mass, perhaps we can affect meaningful change. 

  • Konekon1nj4

    “It is BAFFLING to me when white  women  use the n-word, for purposes of comparison or solidarity or whatever back-asswords motivation compels them to do so.”
    I second that. This whole issue makes me look at those people and say WTF is wrong with you?!? Really now, how exactly are you going to try justify that because honestly there is no justification. 

    Thank you for this post and thank you to all the people who have spoken out about this.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      And yet the attempts to
      justify continue.  There have been a few in the comments section of my blog. 
      I try to assume the best tone and intention, but I’d be lying if I did not say
      my initial reaction is not, “There you go deflecting again.” The
      irony is that deflection just proves the point, don’t you think? 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      And yet the attempts to
      justify continue.  There have been a few in the comments section of my blog. 
      I try to assume the best tone and intention, but I’d be lying if I did not say
      my initial reaction is not, “There you go deflecting again.” The
      irony is that deflection just proves the point, don’t you think? 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      And yet the attempts to
      justify continue.  There have been a few in the comments section of my blog. 
      I try to assume the best tone and intention, but I’d be lying if I did not say
      my initial reaction is not, “There you go deflecting again.” The
      irony is that deflection just proves the point, don’t you think? 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      And yet the attempts to
      justify continue.  There have been a few in the comments section of my blog. 
      I try to assume the best tone and intention, but I’d be lying if I did not say
      my initial reaction is not, “There you go deflecting again.” The
      irony is that deflection just proves the point, don’t you think? 

  • Maysie

    Thank you, thank you for this! Can I use “intersectionality boot camp”? Love it!

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      LOL. 
      “Intersectionality boot camp” is officially under the creative
      commons license. ;-) Now if we can actually create one… 

      Wait, I should acknowledge that there used to be such things.  There were organizations around the country with the mission to do anti-oppression workshops that eventually folded in the 90s, and my guess it was largely due to the divestment of liberal foundations coupled with those groups’ inability/unwillingness to raise money outside the “philanthropic industrial complex.” 

      That’s a whole other story. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      LOL. 
      “Intersectionality boot camp” is officially under the creative
      commons license. ;-) Now if we can actually create one… 

      Wait, I should acknowledge that there used to be such things.  There were organizations around the country with the mission to do anti-oppression workshops that eventually folded in the 90s, and my guess it was largely due to the divestment of liberal foundations coupled with those groups’ inability/unwillingness to raise money outside the “philanthropic industrial complex.” 

      That’s a whole other story. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      LOL. 
      “Intersectionality boot camp” is officially under the creative
      commons license. ;-) Now if we can actually create one… 

      Wait, I should acknowledge that there used to be such things.  There were organizations around the country with the mission to do anti-oppression workshops that eventually folded in the 90s, and my guess it was largely due to the divestment of liberal foundations coupled with those groups’ inability/unwillingness to raise money outside the “philanthropic industrial complex.” 

      That’s a whole other story. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      LOL. 
      “Intersectionality boot camp” is officially under the creative
      commons license. ;-) Now if we can actually create one… 

      Wait, I should acknowledge that there used to be such things.  There were organizations around the country with the mission to do anti-oppression workshops that eventually folded in the 90s, and my guess it was largely due to the divestment of liberal foundations coupled with those groups’ inability/unwillingness to raise money outside the “philanthropic industrial complex.” 

      That’s a whole other story. 

  • Drhiphop85

    Poignant, entertaining, intelligent, easy to grasp, even-handed, and heartfelt…Probably the best article I’ve read on the subject on racism and feminism on this site ever…Bravo to you…

    Funny you bring up BW because I literally just read an article about that from Toure’, who attempts a similar thing you did albeit with different grounds. 
    http://ideas.time.com/2011/10/12/can-whites-say-the-n-word/

  • http://www.trustblackwomen.org Jasmine Burnett

    Sister, I couldn’t agree more…
    I will say, however, I am ready to take this conversation face to face and we are at the SisterSong NYC Meeting a Speak OUT on White Privilege in the Feminist Movement, Monday October 17, 6-8pm – you must RSVP at sistersongnyc@gmail:disqus .com.  This conversation warrants the respect of multiple conversations and as an organizer and proud representative of SisterSong and Trust Black Women, this is a discussion that I am all too happy to have.

    My original message on the SisterSong NYC listserv…

    I received this unfortunate example of the fact that woman is not a
    universally understood identity for all women.  A young white woman at 
    SlutWalk NYC held a sign that said Woman is the Nigger of the World. 
    I’m disgusted at this display and the lack of acknowledgement and
    visibility of women of color in this movement.  But, I guess it’s all
    about pushing the white woman’s agenda under this monachre of feminism,
    right? Keeping true to 2nd wave privilege I see.  Where is the respect
    that we have for each other in this movement?  Or, am I mistaken for
    thinking that there is respect for the muted or missing voices in
    feminist analysis? The same thing happens when our ally sisters have
    access to jobs, contacts, resources and any other manner of things that
    makes movement building sustainable, then out of protection of their
    privilege smile in our faces, stand in solidarity with us when they
    speak and write, but when it comes time to really do something that has
    impact on the lives of women of color who live in the constant reality
    of reproductive injustice based on race, we become invisible.  This is a
    damn problem.

    The next SisterSong NYC meeting October 17; 6-8pm Margaret Sanger Center: 26 Bleecker St.,
    will be dedicated to an open forum discussion on white privilege in our
    movement.  It’s clear that we as Black women are still in the back of
    the room, waiting to be called up for our voices to be heard.  Well,
    this time, we’re inviting you to our table to have a series of many
    discussion looking at who is really about the movement and who is really
    about themselves and maintaining their privilege.  I’d rather know who
    I’m working with than not, and if folks aren’t ready to change that is
    their own personal path and decision.  I stand with Black women, women
    of color and our anti racist allies who in theory and practice fully
    acknowledge, engage, deal with and address their own white privilege.

    I’m sick and tired of being offended by the virtual lack and
    disregard for Black women and women of color as a whole in this
    movement! We don’t expect allies to speak for us, but we also don’t
    expect that our race and invisibility as women in this country will be
    minstrelized either.  Again, I invite the woman in the photo or any
    other woman to come to this meeting and have an in person dialogue about
    why feminism for some is a singular identity and for others must be
    intersectional if we are to be true to our experiences as Black women
    and as women of color as a whole in this country.

    We have to approach this conversation with the understanding that as
    evolved as we think our movement is, we may not even witness the
    systemic and structural changes that must happen to change the race/privilege
    dynamic, but I’ll be damned if I do nothing and leave it as the
    birthright for young feminists/womanist warriors who will come after us.

    I’m ready for the difficult conversation, are you? Come with it.

    And that is all.

    Jasmine

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Jasmine, thank you so
      much for sharing this. I wish I could’ve attended, but I did later read some
      tweetups on the event. Is there some place where we can read a transcription,
      watch video or otherwise see how the conversation went?  I can understand
      if in the interest of creating safe space it was not so thoroughly documented,
      but I’m incredibly curious! 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Jasmine, thank you so
      much for sharing this. I wish I could’ve attended, but I did later read some
      tweetups on the event. Is there some place where we can read a transcription,
      watch video or otherwise see how the conversation went?  I can understand
      if in the interest of creating safe space it was not so thoroughly documented,
      but I’m incredibly curious! 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Jasmine, thank you so
      much for sharing this. I wish I could’ve attended, but I did later read some
      tweetups on the event. Is there some place where we can read a transcription,
      watch video or otherwise see how the conversation went?  I can understand
      if in the interest of creating safe space it was not so thoroughly documented,
      but I’m incredibly curious! 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Jasmine, thank you so
      much for sharing this. I wish I could’ve attended, but I did later read some
      tweetups on the event. Is there some place where we can read a transcription,
      watch video or otherwise see how the conversation went?  I can understand
      if in the interest of creating safe space it was not so thoroughly documented,
      but I’m incredibly curious! 

  • Anonymous

    It’s interesting that this hullabaloo is commencing in the wake of Kathleen Stockett’s “The Help”, a novel and movie that’s also received a lot of acclaim/ defense/ justification from white progressive women. Methinks they only like WOC they can rescue, exploit, appropriate or erase.
    THANK YOU for this post.

  • Anonymous

    It’s interesting that this hullabaloo is commencing in the wake of Kathleen Stockett’s “The Help”, a novel and movie that’s also received a lot of acclaim/ defense/ justification from white progressive women. Methinks they only like WOC they can rescue, exploit, appropriate or erase.
    THANK YOU for this post.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Yes!  That is a major
      reason why we keep seeing this narrative over and over and over again.  If
      the endurance of this trope is not indicative of the desire to ease liberal
      guilt without forgoing white privilege, I don’t know what is! 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Yes!  That is a major
      reason why we keep seeing this narrative over and over and over again.  If
      the endurance of this trope is not indicative of the desire to ease liberal
      guilt without forgoing white privilege, I don’t know what is! 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Yes!  That is a major
      reason why we keep seeing this narrative over and over and over again.  If
      the endurance of this trope is not indicative of the desire to ease liberal
      guilt without forgoing white privilege, I don’t know what is! 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Yes!  That is a major
      reason why we keep seeing this narrative over and over and over again.  If
      the endurance of this trope is not indicative of the desire to ease liberal
      guilt without forgoing white privilege, I don’t know what is! 

  • http://twitter.com/a_mom_of_4 AMomof4

    Your line, ” White anti-racists have their own lane. You truly want to be an ally? Stay in it.” was perfect! Please share with Sherri Shepherd as she tried her best, but BW playing the “I don’t understand” game won! It’s amazing to me how BW was too eager to use it, and did so over and over and over.

  • http://twitter.com/a_mom_of_4 AMomof4

    Your line, ” White anti-racists have their own lane. You truly want to be an ally? Stay in it.” was perfect! Please share with Sherri Shepherd as she tried her best, but BW playing the “I don’t understand” game won! It’s amazing to me how BW was too eager to use it, and did so over and over and over.

    • Mickey

      Because, subconsciously, she wanted to use it and Sherri’s problem with it made her use it even more. It’s kind of like that issue with Dr. Laura who went on an n-word tirade when a Black female caller took offense to her using the word and she said it just to piss her off. I think both Barbara Walters & Dr. Laura were saying it to keep their teeth white.

  • http://twitter.com/bctw bctw

    Awesome, on-point post. Still don’t think they (or white people in general) will get it, though…

  • http://twitter.com/bctw bctw

    Awesome, on-point post. Still don’t think they (or white people in general) will get it, though…

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Keep hope alive ’cause
      we don’t need all of them to get it. Just enough of ‘em. At minimum, POC have
      the peace of mind that we went on the record. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Keep hope alive ’cause
      we don’t need all of them to get it. Just enough of ‘em. At minimum, POC have
      the peace of mind that we went on the record. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Keep hope alive ’cause
      we don’t need all of them to get it. Just enough of ‘em. At minimum, POC have
      the peace of mind that we went on the record. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Keep hope alive ’cause
      we don’t need all of them to get it. Just enough of ‘em. At minimum, POC have
      the peace of mind that we went on the record. 

  • meg

    Though I am a decidedly uncool white chick, I am so thrilled you wrote this. It is BAFFLING to me when white  women  use the n-word, for purposes of comparison or solidarity or whatever back-asswords motivation compels them to do so. And then there is a whole lot of sitting back and batting of eyelashes and resting comfortably in ignorance and white privilege, exactly like good old Barbara Walters up there. (PS, while we’re asking everyone to stop watching the Help, can we ask that everyone stops watching The View too? It’s so much screaming all the time.)

    Wonderful post. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Thanks, Meg. It seems
      that THE VIEW via the above video at least offered a teachable moment as to how
      NOT to approach this conversation.  “… a whole lot of sitting back
      and batting of eyelashes and sitting comfortably in ignorance and white
      privilege,” indeed! That’s an excellent description of this kind of
      behavior, and while it’s always disconcerting, it’s particularly unsettling
      when it comes from women who identify as feminists who otherwise would rail
      against such depictions of womanhood. Resorting to it in moments of
      accountability just puts salt in the wound. 

       

      In fact, THE VIEW has
      another teachable moment about race that White folks should watch. In the
      episode where Vanessa Williams critiques the hoopla over THE BLIND SIDE, Joy
      Behar proved to be an effective ally when Barbara Walters tried to shut her
      down. She also handled Elizabeth’s usual inane and irrelevant contributions to
      the conversation. 

       
      It can be seen here:  http://colorlines.com/archives/2010/03/vanessa_williams_explains_hollywood_white_knight_syndrome_to_barbara_walters.html

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Thanks, Meg. It seems
      that THE VIEW via the above video at least offered a teachable moment as to how
      NOT to approach this conversation.  “… a whole lot of sitting back
      and batting of eyelashes and sitting comfortably in ignorance and white
      privilege,” indeed! That’s an excellent description of this kind of
      behavior, and while it’s always disconcerting, it’s particularly unsettling
      when it comes from women who identify as feminists who otherwise would rail
      against such depictions of womanhood. Resorting to it in moments of
      accountability just puts salt in the wound. 

       

      In fact, THE VIEW has
      another teachable moment about race that White folks should watch. In the
      episode where Vanessa Williams critiques the hoopla over THE BLIND SIDE, Joy
      Behar proved to be an effective ally when Barbara Walters tried to shut her
      down. She also handled Elizabeth’s usual inane and irrelevant contributions to
      the conversation. 

       
      It can be seen here:  http://colorlines.com/archives/2010/03/vanessa_williams_explains_hollywood_white_knight_syndrome_to_barbara_walters.html

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      Thanks, Meg. It seems
      that THE VIEW via the above video at least offered a teachable moment as to how
      NOT to approach this conversation.  “… a whole lot of sitting back
      and batting of eyelashes and sitting comfortably in ignorance and white
      privilege,” indeed! That’s an excellent description of this kind of
      behavior, and while it’s always disconcerting, it’s particularly unsettling
      when it comes from women who identify as feminists who otherwise would rail
      against such depictions of womanhood. Resorting to it in moments of
      accountability just puts salt in the wound. 

       

      In fact, THE VIEW has
      another teachable moment about race that White folks should watch. In the
      episode where Vanessa Williams critiques the hoopla over THE BLIND SIDE, Joy
      Behar proved to be an effective ally when Barbara Walters tried to shut her
      down. She also handled Elizabeth’s usual inane and irrelevant contributions to
      the conversation. 

       
      It can be seen here:  http://colorlines.com/archives/2010/03/vanessa_williams_explains_hollywood_white_knight_syndrome_to_barbara_walters.html

  • Elise Fouasnon

    Oh God, thank you for this. Such an amazing throw down on white liberal women that use the n-word. I’m a white liberal woman and I hate it when some of my friends think it’s okay to speak that way and ignore their privilege. I bow down to you, Sofia Quintero. Because this is just wonderful.

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      I’m
      glad that you liked it, Elise, and appreciate that you understand why this
      behavior is unacceptable. However, no need to bow down. Just keep fighting the
      good fighting and attempting to educate your friends as challenging as it may
      be. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      I’m
      glad that you liked it, Elise, and appreciate that you understand why this
      behavior is unacceptable. However, no need to bow down. Just keep fighting the
      good fighting and attempting to educate your friends as challenging as it may
      be. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      I’m
      glad that you liked it, Elise, and appreciate that you understand why this
      behavior is unacceptable. However, no need to bow down. Just keep fighting the
      good fighting and attempting to educate your friends as challenging as it may
      be. 

    • http://twitter.com/sofiaquintero Sofia Quintero

      I’m
      glad that you liked it, Elise, and appreciate that you understand why this
      behavior is unacceptable. However, no need to bow down. Just keep fighting the
      good fighting and attempting to educate your friends as challenging as it may
      be.