Black Women, White Women, and Intersectionality: Part One of A Response Post

This is more or less a response post to the article about the complex relationships between white women and black women.

I saw that a lot of people dismissed EVERYTHING in the article because it didn’t apply to them individually. That’s cool. Black women are not, and never will be, a monolith. For example, no matter how many times it’s made clear that this is a site largely aimed at black women who are open to interracial relationships or already in them, you get people who remained confused either by choice or because they missed both the first AND second memos. There remains this idea that at the core of every black woman is someone who is pining for that good black man and resentful of every other woman that stands between her and that dream. But we know that’s simply not true. We are individuals, and however we interact with other people will be as individuals.

 

Now, there were some points in the article I agreed with:

 

- The Westernized feminist movement as a whole has never placed an equal emphasis on all women, and this really does create strife on that front.

- Some black women have a strong dislike of white women for various reasons, including their “pedestal position”, which relates almost directly back to the “bottom-of-the-totem pole” concept.

- Some white women are racist and or have a misguided sense of self-worth based on white privilege. Even if you have not experienced this personally, that does not invalidate the experiences of women who have. It only becomes a problem when black women become so fixated on those racial slights that they use that as an indicator for how they treat or will be treated by others in the future (more on that later).

 

So for my part, I can’t say that it was a total bust, but that’s just me. If someone is there making an observation, I’m right there compiling data and analyzing it to pieces. And I personally didn’t see anything in the writing that made me angry or upset. If something doesn’t apply to me, I am not going to make myself feel I am being targeted. Because there’s no point, really. You’re only one person, and you are free to agree or disagree with someone else’s observations and or experiences.

 

I will say that there was one aspect of the article that made me think: Based on what the author had to say about observations made of some black women, observations that are not entirely unwarranted or inaccurate, I do feel that there is a case for informing affected black women that they need to prioritize themselves in their entirety. To become a whole person, who lives their own life rather than looking to other people to confirm their beauty or give them permission to not be beneath someone else’s feet. If you’re waiting passively for one group of women to inform you that you need not feel less than they are, you missed the point of empowerment. You also are missing out on enjoying yourself and other people as just people. But one major concern I have is not only that black women are waiting for permission in some way to be as good as others….they are also bringing this baggage with them into the IRR sphere and thinking that merely dating out is enough to heal their lowered sense of self-worth.

 

Just like showing up in church once a week doesn’t automatically make you a good Christian, being a part of IRR spaces does not necessarily eliminate cognitive dissonance: Some black women are bound by GAT-DL or black male-identified ways of thinking that cripple their ability to successfully interact with other people not bound by those concepts. The race or ethnicity of the people you date or interact with cannot get rid of this problem because it’s strictly internal.

 

The reality is that certain black women suffer from an inability to separate racial politics from every aspect of their life and not make that the entire focus of how they approach other people or assume others are dealing with them. Does this mean you have to stop being concerned with racism and discrimination? No. But it also doesn’t mean you have to assume everyone else is looking at you and seeing your race/skin color. Or that they place as great an emphasis on it as you do. The most important people in your life should be about more than that. And if you’re going to place undue emphasis on being looked down on by strangers, then you are putting unnecessary stress on your being.

 

There is an important reason to avoid behaving in this manner: Putting heavy emphasis on one aspect of yourself at the expense of every other aspect of yourself is likely going to cause you to miss social cues and suffer from a great deal of cognitive dissonance. Do I think white women can have this issue as well? Absolutely, since we’ve spoken of white women being “shocked” or “resentful” of being passed over regardless of their possessing white privilege. However, all this means is that the women in question, black and white, have a skewed vision of themselves and the world, and therefore are inevitably going to be thrown sideways by people who are seeing things from alternate points-of-view.

 

For example, you have black women who see competing with white women in the love an relationship arena as a racial thing more so than as merely a fact of nature. Some white women and black women are both guilty of playing into racial politics and assuming that white men will respond in the same way. What they forget is that race is something that is a non-issue for white men. They enjoy both racial and male privilege, remember? So while these women are reading things one way, a guy can look at things from a different angle and see Woman #1 as hotter than Woman #2 for reasons that never figured into the thinking of either party. Women like this often think that men are beholden to the “hierarchal rules” they imagine for themselves and other women. They often forget that, no, they aren’t. And all that time spent obeying “rules” could have been spent self-reflecting and broadening their horizons.

 

Whether it’s your skin color, ethnicity, or whatever form of privilege you wield–making assumptions about yourself, emphasizing that one area of your being can negatively impact you in terms of how you view the world and how you understand others around you. You automatically trust or distrust, co-opt or allow yourself to be allied with someone for reasons associated with that one viewpoint. And with logic that can be fallible due to being unable to see past that limited viewpoint. There are so many different ways to be an individual and to appreciate how you connect to other people, and you’re only hurting yourself when you fail to acknowledge this about yourself and others.

 

We have women here who are black, vocally Republican, married, and proudly “old-fashioned”. Others who are multi-racial, liberal, unmarried, and progressive in all areas of their lives. How fair would it be for these women, for any woman really, to limit their understanding of themselves and each other to simply being “black” or “a woman” and then trying to focus their viewpoint of the world through one, or even both of those lenses? Because there are just too many parts of yourself that fall away when you do this. And just the same, you miss out on various aspects of other people, and all while weighing the complexity of that single viewpoint.

 

That’s not to say race isn’t complex. It’s stupid and often enabling stupidity breeds complexity, but I digress. Black women should realize that complexity comes not merely from race or gender, but a myriad of things that determine who you are and how you deal with conflict.

 

Coming up in part two: Black Women and Cognitive Dissonance

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