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Race Ignored in the Feminist Blogosphere

April 12, 2010

Feminism is the form of women’s organization that is prioritized both in the media and academia, but many black women have turned to womanism in an attempt to counter the ways in which the combined oppressions of race and gender affect our lives. Womanism is not just feminism for women from minorities; it is based in our spirituality, honoring our foremothers and a desire to support both men and women. While womanism at its heart is pro-woman, it is also about understanding the communal value of all people of color, reported by the Guardian.

Reading this statement from Renee Williams at the Guardian inspired me to think about the representation of women of color in the mainstream blog sites. Countless popular blog sites are criticized for their lack of diversity, but most importantly for lack of posts that include women of color in the struggle for equality.  Being a women of color and an avid blogger, I realize the importance of a collective voice and the importance of representation when you are trying to convince readers  your message  deals not only with the majority, but  resonates with those who are marginalized by society, I understand, and I concur.

According to Jezebel.com, “Womanist Musings discussed the the  issue of feminist blogs  being “largely run by white women,” including Feministing, Feministe, Pandagon and BitchPhD.” The interesting part of this statement is that the majority of the popular blog sites that deal with feminism are not completely run by white women, there are many women of color on the board and represented in many of the posts.

Feminism has  been criticized because many believe it focuses on the contributions of white women, but ignores the contributions and needs concerning women of color.  The truth is each person that considers themselves a feminist is working for one collective goal: equality. Women of Color do have unique backgrounds and struggles, as do every women in America, we should not focus on who’s struggle is more important, but how, as women, we can bring together our diverse backgrounds to create change for all.

According to the Guardian, “Despite repeated calls for change, the dynamics remains the same because the powerful blogs maintain the ability to silence and effectively ignore the critique of marginalized women simply based in size and clout. Though the different strata of women’s organizing often finds itself fighting the same issues, differences in race, class, ability, and cisgender status continue to divide activism, making it impossible for real ally work to occur. How can you claim the label of those who would oppress you to see their goals realized, even when commonality exists in some areas? Not owning the feminist label is not always about equivocation; for some women, it represents truly loving oneself in the face of bigotry.”

Focusing on powerful blogs and their ability to maintain the silence not only repeats the cycle but brings the underlying problem to the forefront. When we focus on the negatives of this world, but inevitably leave out the positive progress we’ve made, we take a step back. The great thing about the internet is  we have the ability to create our own blogs and bring unique voices to the forefront. Just because you feel marginalized and silenced on one blog, does not mean there are not millions of other voices who speak to your specific topic and activism.  There are millions of blogs who cater to to specific topics, we just have to make sure we are supporting them and bringing their struggles and agendas to light.

I hope  this post really brings on a discussion about how we are including everyone in the struggle for equality.

Are we leaving voices out or  simply catering to a specific audience? How do women of color fare in certain blogs?  Should women of color support “Womanism” instead of “Feminism”? Does this sound like we are segregating the struggle? Are we not all fighting for the same cause?

With the change our country has faced the past two years, I hope  everyone focuses on equality and the unique voices and backgrounds of all people. We need not focus on me, myself, and I, but put more emphasis on being a collective generation set on making sure everyone is treated equally and given a voice in the movements.

7 Comments
  1. Is that so? permalink
    April 13, 2010 2:57 am

    Here’s what I hear you saying, Tatiana: who cares about the critiques that have been made over and over again by women of color, queers, working class people, disabled people, trans folks, etc. who say that white, middle/upper class, hetero, ablist, cis feminism de-prioritizes issues that don’t effect a small group of privileged women? because some undefined notion of ‘equality’ is more important than taking seriously (read: valuing) the marginalized groups from which the critiques come. Equality isn’t just about having a few faces of color on your editorial or writer roster (esp when those faces were added as an afterthought once accusations of racism became commonplace) so you can claim some sort of token representation. And it shouldn’t be about working largely for the benefit of others who look like/think like/act like you so that your audience can be bigger and you can, therefore, make more money selling your books or writing op-eds for The Washington Post or the Guardian or whatever. But that’s what a lot of these feminist bloggers are doing. It’s arrogant self-interest dressed up like ‘equality’. I suggest you read this.

    • April 13, 2010 7:26 am

      I’m not saying that Women of Color and white femninists have the same struggles, but what I am saying is that as a women of color and an avid blogger, if we feel we are being misrepresented we should do something about it. There are numerous ways to start a blog or a discussion about how “women of color” “all women” not just African American Women, African Women, Hispanic, Asian, Arab women are not represented in the blogs. It’s like if we don’t see someone who is black on a website, we assume the site has no diversity, what about other women of color, I feel like they get completley discounted when we talk about the struggle for equality. I am by no means, sugar-coating sites like the Guardian and the Washington Post and saying it’s right that “women of color” are not represented any of the stories or on the editorial board, but what I am saying is that we should create dialogue and new blog sites that distinctly address the struggles we feel are not being voiced in the mainstream. You are right, it is sad that we are not represented as heavily as the mainstream, but even when The Washington Post and The Guardian get “Women of Color” or their executive boards, I still see a lack of diversity in the posts and in the contributing writers, so what does that tell us? It says that sometimes they soothe everyone by adding a “token” black person on the board, but they still have to cater to the mainstream, which is middle-class white women. I’m just saying if we are going to get better representation, we need to make sure we are going to read the blogs and stand behind them. It’s one thing to rant and rave about misrepresentation or none at all, and then once we are represented, we don’t support our own. Thank you for your comments, I appreciate it when readers are engaged in the subject matter.

  2. Is that so? permalink
    April 15, 2010 10:57 pm

    There are a ton of WOC/RWOC bloggers (of varying races and ethnicities, not just black) who have created media spaces that speak to their experiences, issues, and concerns, and your pat, falsely assumptive response that (paraphrasing) if woc don’t feel represented they should create their own blogs both erases the work these WOC/RWOC bloggers have been doing for years (w/ a huge network of bloggers and media makers who support each other’s work) and also posits that segregation is the answer to racism. No, segregation is a symptom of racism, though I grant you that sometimes it’s how we are able to survive.

    The reason why popular feminist media (from WaPo to Feministing) has to cater to the white middle class is precisely because of the racist and classist power structures in place in our society, and their catering to that audience simply serves to reinforce those structures. For WaPo or the Guardian, who make no claims to feminism, that is what it is. But for feminist blogs that claim to advocate for all women to reinforce oppression and then attempt to placate critiques through tokenism and shallow exploration of Other women’s issues, it’s disingenuous.

  3. April 18, 2010 11:26 pm

    So, what do you suggest we do to improve the voice and image of “people of color/ disabled/ LGBT/” in the blogosphere world? First, do you blog? Do you contribute to any of the main blogs? What brought you to Gender Across Borders? If the mainstream does not appreciate diversity, what do you do to improve the situation? I agree with you that creating new blogs only promotes segregation, but what are you doing to make sure the voices of people of color, LGBT, and other marginalized groups have a voice? Yes, I am a blogger on some of the mainstream sites, but I pride myself on making sure women of color and the groups that are marginalized are always included in my posts and represented. I always appreciate feedback and discussion, but I would love to know what you think is the solution to this ever pressing problem? I’ve seen many bloggers take a stab at trying to figure out how to make sure minority voices are included in the mainstream blogs, but none have been successful. What is the solution? You tell me…

Trackbacks

  1. Announcing the Global Feminism series « Gender Across Borders
  2. REMINDER: Global Feminism series starts in one week! « Gender Across Borders
  3. SERIES REMINDER: Global Feminism starts tomorrow! « Gender Across Borders

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