Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Blind White Feminism

Mikaela says:
I've had great discussions with Marjorie and others in the past about what the most meaningful divisions among us really are. Is it race? Is it class? Is it gender?

On a macro level, it's the identity politics debate that Obama and Clinton candidacies have surfaced lately.

On a micro level, it's a debate that's been playing out in fits and starts over a people of color yoga class at Out ch'Yonda.

The hubbub began when a Saturday morning yoga class went from being open to all to being explicitly for women of color. I'm pretty sure men were "excluded," too. White women who had been going were angry, upset, and rather petulant about the switch. Other white women wrote shaming emails saying that the petulant white women should pull it together and see themselves and their privilege. Women of color deserved a space where they could be themselves without being constantly in that dichotomizing space of difference. Others took up every other position on the left's spectrum.

An article posted Friday on Alternet is also written by a white woman who takes her fellow white feminists to task for consistently refusing to acknowledge and learn from their blind spots. It made for thoughtful reading, and I'm sharing it in that spirit here. I appreciated the sense of openness to new perspectives and important issues to the layers of identity possible for women, particularly in the areas of prisons, borders, and safety.

I think this is a complicated issue, and I go back and forth from feeling to rationalizing to sensing to understanding and back again. Most of all, I value that continuous journey. So like a woman!

Still, I appreciate the moments when I'm called again to re-examine my standard operating procedure, look around to see how my perspective might differ from those I consider my allies, and consider how I might adjust strategy accordingly.