An Open Letter to the White Feminist Community:

I say this with the greatest respect for feminism and its importance in the world today, and as a (for the most part) white-identified feminist myself. Because feminism is not merely a movement about middle-class white women and their interests; it is about queer women and straight women and women of all colors. It is about making the world a better place for women and men alike, and it is a cause that should unite all of us.

Are we agreed on that? That’s basically the rhetoric of inclusion we like to think we espouse, right?

Good. Then please consider the following highly incomplete list:

Aaminah, Angry Black Bitch, Angry Black Woman, Annaham, Anxious Black Woman, Belledame, BlackAmazon, Bluealto, Brownblackandqueer, Brownfemipower, Cara, Cassandra, Danadocus, DeviousDiva, Elle, Firefly, Florence Craye, Holly, Ilyka, Karnythia, Lisa Harney, Luci-Kali, Lucy, Magniloquence, Naamen, Nubian, Rachel, Renee, Sadie, Sara no H., Sin Vergüenza, SlantTruth, Sokari, Sonia, Sudy, Sylvia/M, Vanessa, WOC PhD

Note that this is a short list because I’m a relatively new reader of the blogging community, though I’ve been a feminist for quite a long while. So yes, it’s short — it’s incomplete — but already far, far too long. How many dedicated women of color, who spend their lives fighting oppression, have to scream at us, or commit blogicide, or throw up their hands in disgust and abandon the label “feminist” before we actually take their comments at face value and LISTEN? In each of these posts WoC bloggers or allies express outrage at being hurt, slighted, ignored, disgusted, or silenced by the behavior of mainstream white feminists. Yet we white feminists keep claiming our innocence. We insist we’ve done nothing wrong, that Marcotte is being wrongly victimized, that Seal Press shouldn’t be blamed, that Full Frontal Feminism helps advance the cause for us all, that we should excuse Steinem and Ferraro for their racist remarks because they’re just old school, and so on and so forth all the way back to the first wave.

Women of color have spoken up again and again. But just look at some remarks that have been made by us in response on various feminist blogs:

“And if you’d rather fight fellow feminists, than fight Jerry Falwell, then you have your head stuck in the sand… I’d rather focus on the REAL oppressors than battle people whom I’d LIKE to consider ‘allies.’”

“It’s [referring to criticism by WoC] a little scary; a little Stalinistic.”

““Amanda, like other prominent white feminists, seems caught between a rock and a hard place: if she doesn’t write about issues like immigration, she’s ignoring an issue of vital concern to women of color. When she does produce an intelligent, provocative piece on the subject, she’s accused of having stolen the idea.”

“As a woman, I don’t find the cover [of FFF] objectionable, nor do I find it offensive that it’s a white torso… There are far worse things to fret over. And if the book is lacking substance or doesn’t eddify you, write your own.

“Contrary to some modern racist opinion, white perspective does not equal racist perspective.”

“So, does this mean that, since the discourse on immigration and feminism seems to be owned by Brownfemipower, nobody else can talk about it on her/ his blog? Or should the discourse on immigration and feminism perhaps be owned by immigrant women?”

“You all are correct that many white feminists ignore the concerns of women of color, but when you do your level best to eliminate any and all white allies, you lose your moral ground for whining about their absence. “

“what an incredible mean bunch of hyenas” [referring to WoC bloggers]

“Instead of whining to Seal Press and playing the damned race card, these WOC writers should either start their own publishing house, or do what the rest of us do and get their asses to work finding someone to publish them.”

Not so many months ago I commented on the Angry Black Woman’s blog in a thread on feminism, expressing shock and dismay at the anger directed at white feminists. In my naivete I assumed that feminism = a struggle against ALL oppression, a movement inclusive of women of color. I could not understand why anybody would reject it.

Good lord was I wrong.

The comments above are taken out of context but if you follow the links you will find conversations in which the concerns of WoC are trivialized and dismissed, in which WoC are attacked, in which major white feminist writers and voices basically join up to turn their collective backs on the concerns of women of color (often while claiming to do exactly the opposite). Then of course, many of the more “level-headed” among us like to take this tack:

WE ARE ALL WOMEN FIRST and every one of these women who call themselves feminists seems to have forgotten that infighting doesn’t further the feminist cause.

This kind of divisiveness hurts us. And it drives away young women of all races and classes who feel that such discussions, with nothing more, serve little useful purpose.

This may sound reasonable on the surface, especially with comments like “women of all races and classes” giving a nod to the idea of inclusion, but what it really amounts to is, “When you complain about racism in the feminist community, you cause divisions. So shut up and don’t complain.” We wrap ourselves up in all these cries for unity as if the division itself were the root of the problem. As if the problem is women of color having a problem with racism, and *not* the racism itself. It’s a way to sideline the issue of racism and shift the blame to the WoC who point it out. That way we never have to address it and actually fix it.

But here’s the biggest thing about these arguments. The icing-on-the-cake, the piece-de-resistance, the ginormous-cherry-on-the-sundae-of-hypocrisy. If the issues concerned a bunch of women and men in arguing over whether something were sexist or not, there would be no question of who was right. When you have a group of men ganging up and claiming that the women in the room are being oversensitive and irrational and seeing sexism where there is none (we have all been in this room before, I think), we all know the men are full of bullshit. It is an egregious show of male privilege.

So when all the WoC in the blogosphere are telling us that there are problems in feminism…

Um… yeah.

Now I’m relatively new to the feminist blogosphere. I wasn’t reading any blogs at the time of the FFF blowout. But looking over some of them following the recent Seal Press and BFP stuff, I saw the same kinds of things happening – white feminists reacting defensively to criticism, women of color being silenced or ignored or attacked.

There’s a sick irony in the whole Marcotte case, too. Because really, the whole point of her article is to help women of color, right? It’s to address issues pertaining to women of color and give them some kind of representation, some kind of voice? But as countless bloggers and commenters have pointed out, Marcotte has failed to actually acknowledge the voices already in existence. Most tragic of all, the whole controversy has lead one of the most prominent of those voices to vanish into silence. And THIS is how we help WoC? And to add insult to injury, we rush to the white feminist’s defense and accuse the WoC of being divisive?

No wonder so many WoC are through with us.

I’m sick of this cycle. I’m sick of seeing white women dismiss the concerns of women of color. I’m sick of our self-righteous claims of inclusivity while we marginalize the voices of women of color when they speak out. We marginalize them if they do it with anger, or do it in the wrong way, or do it while disagreeing with us, or #%$@cking do it at all. I’m sick of us exercising our white privilege and then accusing our sisters of color of causing divisiveness when they refuse to submit to our racism. Mostly it’s unintentional racism by white women who want to believe that we are saving the world. But we are not. We’re oppressing and silencing the very people we talk so eloquently about being allies with. I’m sick of seeing so many of us refuse to take a stand for fear of alienating our white sisters.

We are the enemy and the oppressors of WoC. Do you realize how wrong, how screwed up, and how profoundly anti-feminist that is?

So please.

Please, please, please,
please, please, please,
please, please, please,
please, please, please,
, please, please,
please, please, please,
please, please, please,
, please, please,
please, please, please,
, please, please,
please, please, please,
please, please, please,

Please, my fellow white feminists,

Quit goddamn fucking up.


EDIT: Please note that I do not speak for the people whose work is linked above. I speak as just one feminist disgusted with the white feminist community. I have linked to others’ words because they are powerful — more powerful than mine. The blogs of woc have been out there forever, a huge variety of voices and experiences; we just haven’t been listening. So go check these people out.  Also, see the update page for the sh*tstorm of events that followed.

152 Responses

  1. Thanks. As a queer woman of color, I’ve had such a hard time explaining (again and again and again) to white women feminists why I cannot identify with them. I’m immediately always too loud, too angry, ungrateful, racist, and the list goes on. Thank you for acknowledging your privileges.

    You can add my blog to the list of WoC against white supremacist feminism,

  2. Oh my… See, THIS is why I am not a blogger. I had no idea that when you hit the “Publish” button it automatically links back to every single place I hyperlinked! Clearly I know NOTHING about how the internet works. 😀 Yes, you can laugh at me. I don’t mind. But anyway if I have violated any sort of blogger etiquette, please let me know and I will try to fix the problem as quickly as possible.

    — Ico, the technologically challenged nonblogger

  3. Brownblackandqueer,

    Added you to list! 😀 So sorry you’ve had to deal with that sort of BS, but glad you’re standing strong!

  4. Oh thank heaven. Yes. This.

    And also: ARGH!!! *jawdrop* You’ve cataloged some screw-ups that I hadn’t seen yet. (I’m new to the blogosphere too.)

    I want to write more, but following those links just made me sad and angry. Will this be a place where white feminists can work on not being so blatantly effing racist all the time, and not acting as though “feminism” = “making sure that white men can wield power in as irresponsible and self-serving a fashion as white men currently enjoy?” I hope so. I’ve made so many of these mistakes — I’ve been the “crying white women” in the poem Those Tears and didn’t understand what was so wrong about that for the longest time. These latest fights made me realize I’d grown complacent again. I hope this blog gets a lot of traffic.

  5. Thank you.

    For your time, for your research, for your eloquence, for your leadership.

    And for making your point.

  6. A Sarah,

    As someone who has also made those mistakes (and not all that long ago… -_-), I do believe we can change. Glad the screwups on those links opened your eyes — they sure opened mine when I was reading about them!


    Thank you for encouraging me to do so. It was your push in ABW’s blog that made me realize I should, and must, speak out on this. Thank you.

  7. What littlem said!

  8. Hi, Ico – great post here.

    I don’t think pingbacks really violate netiquette. They help link discussions back and forth which stimulates those discussions (hopefully). You didn’t do anything wrong.

  9. This is pretty awesome. I must admit, recent events have had me feeling like confronting racism (or any other “ism” when you’re part of the group that’s being “ism-ed” at) was kind of a fruitless endeavor. Thank you for renewing my faith.

    Oh, and you can add me to the list, too, if you want.

  10. Vanessa,

    Added you! 😀 I don’t think it’s a fruitless endeavor, but it is a long and frustrating battle and at this point I can’t blame any woman of color who has thrown up her hands at the idea of working with “mainstream” feminists. As a group, we suck. Here’s hoping we can change!

    Lisa and Ilyka, thanks!

  11. Completely fucking awesome. Thank you!

  12. You can certainly add my blog to the “please” list. I haven’t blogged about this latest drama, but I did extensively chronicle the FFF thing, and some of the other egregious screwups that have happened recently.

  13. Rock on.

  14. what kills me is that AM’s argument is “sure I read BFP’s blog making all the same points that I make in my article, before I made them, but I wasn’t influenced by them.” How is that even possible? Not necessarily plagiarism, but it sure is racist. Its like saying “sure I read her, but she’s beneath my notice.” How did she not know that was going to piss people off?

    Also, back in the Holly thread where AM said BFP was a “decent” writer; um, now does not seem like a good time offer constructive stylistic criticism. Just saying.

  15. –ah, just to be clear, not sure if you meant to say “read these posts about the matter at hand” or “here’s a list of WoC you should be reading.” Because if it’s the latter, I’m not one. Flattered, but shouldn’t be on the list if that’s what that is.

  16. atb: it was in the “zeitgeist,” which is another word for “at the bottom of the cereal box.”

  17. where AM said BFP was a “decent” writer>>

    the only possible response to which is “mighty white of her.”

    It’s a bit like Salieri calling Mozart a decent composer.

    oh, also from that same comment, that was where I am a mean fucking bully, and she (she!) she will survive, AM, but it’s just a shame that I drag “decent writers” like bfp into my hateful vendetta against, well, who else IS there? And, it’s not like bfp was angry -before- I and my “cadre” like gave her the idea.

    mind you, she’s still pissed off enough at bfp that she’s never ever gonna read her again, which, you know, would probably be true even if she -hadn’t- TAKEN HER ENTIRE FUCKING BLOG DOWN WHICH WAS THE POINT OF THAT FEMINISTE THREAD AND SO MANY OTHERS IN THE GORRAM FIRST PLACE.

    also, you shouldn’t call her “X,” now, because it is an insult to the memory of Malcolm X.

    no, I’m not kidding, she actually said this.

  18. Nice post and well put.

  19. well said!

  20. Thanks for this. The lack of respect white feminists are showing to our WOC sisters is disgusting. And the lack of understanding of what exactly constitutes privilege among white feminists, both the high profile ones and those standing in positions of enough power to have presses or widely read blogs that can promote lesser known women is boggling. They’re really not thinking about how to wield power with any responsibility at all if it inconveniences them, and yes, that inconvenience includes listening responsively to criticism and offering amends for mistakes. It seems that the idea of inclusiveness and anti-racist work as an intrinsic part of feminism as spearheaded by feminists of color 30 years ago isn’t filtering through to these white women. I don’t want white women who haven’t done their anti-racist homework to still be in positions of influence in feminist communties–they’re here still and it’s not OK.

  21. also, you shouldn’t call her “X,” now, because it is an insult to the memory of Malcolm X.

    no, I’m not kidding, she actually said this.

    And I know I’m not alone in still being stunned by it. Did I just . . . ? Did she really . . . ? Is this actually . . . ? WHAT PLANET IS THIS? Planet Insanity!

    But then again, how long have women of color been saying “Y’all engage in some fucked-up behavior” and how long did it take me to even consider believing them for a minute? Too long. Way too long.

  22. […] I want all of you to take a moment… …To read this. […]

  23. Hello. Thanks for this. I’ve blogged about the Seal Press debacle here and the Margaret Seltzer/Inga Muscio one here.


  24. Magniloquence, added you! 😀 Thanks!

    Belledame — I think there are links to a few allies there. I want to make the list as long as possible. 🙂

    I don’t want white women who haven’t done their anti-racist homework to still be in positions of influence in feminist communties–they’re here still and it’s not OK.

    Lavendertook — so true. And this is the problem. The big feminist bloggers have not taken any kind of stand on this! It is cowardly and unfair and completely unacceptable.

    Thank you to those leaving supportive comments, and thank you especially to everyone who is speaking out on this, whether on your own blogs or in comments on the big feminist blogs or anywhere!

  25. cool, thanks, ico, just wanted to make sure.

    i might have more links that aren’t up here yet in the last post I wrote–eyestrain and fatigue prevents me from properly double checking for all of them, but I think for instance try Sin Verguenza:

    my post (the links are about halfway down)

  26. Thanks Belledame! Added them. 🙂

  27. Lucy — sorry, missed your post for some reason. Added you! Along with Lisa Harney and Ilyka. 🙂

  28. Hah. My open letter to white “feminists” was much, much shorter. I like yours better – thanks for adding your voice to ours. This whole debacle has just been exhausting and it’s disgusting to me that the only woman to have had to leave the room is bfp.

  29. Thanks! I don’t blog; I read. And this is awesome. I do a lot of work advising people on how to apologise, and so often people try to explain away what they did (kind of like “the dog ate my homework” instead of saying “I should have done it. and put it in my school bag, and tucked it in a safe place, so the dog wouldn’t have had the opp to eat it…”).

    So I am doing my homework; I am owning up to my blindness; and I am recognizing my white middle class privilege. I also know there’s more women out there like me, so hey, we have a lot of work to do.


  30. Thanks folks!

    There are doubtless some people who just want this thing to go away, but let’s keep speaking up and make this as LOUD as possible! If you haven’t already, write a post on it and I’ll add you! If you are a lurker or participant on any of the major feminist blogs that have failed to take a stand on this *cough*Feministing*cough*, please COMMENT! Tell them to publicly demand that Marcotte acknowledge her sources! Also, write to Alternet!

    De-lurk and speak up. Now is the time when voices are needed.

    (Okay, actually the time was a week ago, and I’m late. But we can’t stay quiet on it! So please, blog/write/comment/say something!)

  31. I just found this and this is fantastic! I will post something up eventually (today, I swear) and I will forward my link to the add-on.

    We have to continue pressing on this issue! This appropriation/plagiarism of PoC’s work has to stop!

  32. Feministe has a post promoting Marcotte’s new book:

    W. T. F.


    L-K, waiting for your post. 🙂

  33. Been meaning to comment since this letter went up….it’s brilliant!

    Also, double w.t.f. Guess who just popped up in the Feministe thread to make a comment, continue digging her hole, and run off again?

  34. Daomadan,

    Yeah I noticed that. I posted a message to her. Trying to be nice, because sometimes a little kindness goes a long way, especially when people are feeling defensive.

    But goddamn, I am disappointed in Feministe. It’s just despicable to turn around like that and do the promotion, as if everything’s good now. Yet another slap in the face reminder of how white feminists shrug off the concerns of WoC. Barely a week’s passed, and now this.

  35. I put up a post the other day, and if you feel that it applies, you’re more than welcome to add me.

  36. Cara,

    I haven’t added you yet? Totally thought I’d put you up there already! Well, the problem is corrected! 😀 Thanks for the post!

  37. Hey, Ico –

    I’m really sorry I didn’t get over there timely today, and at this point, I’m sure I’m stuck in moderation limbo. I reposted this at Ilyka’s:

    First, what Ico said. And keeps saying. And keeps saying.

    Secondly, what Jenny Dreadful said. I’ll repeat it – however “Republican” a tactic that may be *smirk* – since very little else that’s said here other than “let’s sweep it under the rug” doesn’t seem to be getting through:

    I also think it’s important for white feminists to create partnerships with WOC and work together to form a community that’s more representative of ALL women. But a white feminist writing an open letter to the white feminist community? Um, yeah.

    What was it Dr. Free Ride said?

    Oh, yes:

    White liberal feminists (at least the “important” ones in the blogospheric hierarchies) have made themselves into Lucy, swearing up and down that this time they won’t be snatching the football away before it can be kicked.

    Third, those of you who continue to insist that “plagiarism” constitutes word-for-word copying, please check the definition of “alleged infringement” under Title 17 U.S.C. *rolleyes*

    Fourth, there has to be some sort of linguistic theory underlying the “white” feminists — and particularly “white” womens’ — insistence that suppression and denial that an uncomfortable issue exists constitutes “playing nice” and “putting an issue behind us/them”. I’m going to look into it.

    And finally:

    Those of you who call yourselves scholars and attempt to continue to confuse the issue of “plagiarism” with the concept of “cultural appropriation”, STOP IT.


    The intellectual sloppiness and laziness are not worthy of you. Personally, I’d be embarrassed. But, as it’s been clearly pointed out here ad nauseam, you’re not me.


    (Not printed there:) Certainly the whine of “You all are acting like Republicans” holds less water than ever. Because in terms of attempting to control the frame of the discourse, I’d say these girls are getting honors grades in class.

    Hypocrisy, hypocrisy. But why should anything less be expected?

    I’ve been untangling another completely different IP mess today and so was completely out of the loop.

  38. No worries, love! You have my admiration for sticking out the fight! 😀 Your comment did go through over there, btw.

  39. […] was just reading An Open Letter to the White Feminist Community and was struck following arguments: WE ARE ALL WOMEN FIRST and every one of these women who call […]

  40. This is an awesome letter–particularly the last paragraph, which encapsulates all of this so well. I wrote a post on the whole Amanda/BfP thing, and you’re welcome to link it if you need any more “please”-es!

    I’ll be linking you in my next post. I hope that’s okay.

  41. Annaham,

    Links are always welcome! 😀 Added you to the list! The more the merrier. Especially as it lets us keep telling the white feminist blogosphere: we will not shut up!

  42. Speaking of not shutting up, something else that might get stuck in moderation elsewhere:

    Jill, I’m wondering if statements like this are some of the things you “challenge” Amanda on, given, for example, that you don’t believe she appropriated…I’m at least glad you realize there are other aspects of behavior to be challenged.

    Charity, please don’t confuse “plagiarism” – or infringement, for that matter, where the standard of behavior is wider under Title 17 U.S.C. — with “appropriation”.

    It’s sloppy analysis, and the confusion is fuel for those who would deliberately obfuscate the issue.

    And I’m sick of their conflating the criticisms originally made by BFP and others with accusations of plagiarism. It’s a shitty, shitty tactic and I really wish that none of us would engage with them on it.

    Well, Crys T., it’s a Republican fascist tactic when women of color(s) do it, apparently.

    When mainstream feminists do it, it’s more like “Regressive Progressive I Don’t Know What I’m Doing But I Will Collapse With the Vapors if Anyone Dares to Call Me On It” Pseudo-Feminism. But gosh darn, it’s effective!

    Daisy does a great breakdown of cultural appropriation here

    And any mainstream feminists wondering why, despite the fragile delicate womanhood pleas for it to be “put behind us”, this issue just doesn’t want to die?

    It’s because by
    – refusing to collectively call out your colleague on her omissions,
    – failing to actively encourage her to credit her sources, and
    – continuing to support her despite her failure,

    the message you’re communicating is that you’re condoning her racist behavior.

    *sigh* Why do I feel like I did when I was a little kid? When you saw one of the big boys push down one of the little girls, and you opened your mouth to holler about it to anyone who could put a stop to the bullying, and the big boy ran over and tried to muzzle you by putting his hand forcibly over your mouth, and so he hurt you too, and you had to elbow him in the solar plexus and bite the hand that was over your mouth in order to get free?

    When the whole mess could have been avoided if he had just chosen not to push anyone down in the first place?

  43. Hi Ico,

    Thanks for your post, and feel free to add us as a please.

  44. Ashley — added you as a please. 🙂

    Littlem. Like, srsly. It’s just such craziness. I feel like we’re screaming into a vacuum and no matter how loud we (or anyone else) shouts, we just can’t get through.

  45. Hi Ico,

    I came here from the recent Feminste thread. And want to add myself to the list of people thanking you for putting this in one place.

    (Also, I’m in the process of linking to this page right now – which I hope is okay).


  46. […] those of you who haven’t read it yet, go here now. Now. Now. This glorious page is along the lines of how I feel. And there’s so much. All […]

  47. Word. As a non-white feminist, sometimes I feel like that our voices are being ignored by white feminists.

    I don’t think anyone should point a finger at each other, though. We all need to try to work together. It’s the only way we can save ourselves in this upper class, white-dominated, heteronormative patriachal society.

    I still love all my feminist brothers and sisters.

  48. Someone else was kind enough to mention me in the posts above, but let me do so again, so I can make the “pleases” list:

    Borrowing and appropriating

    I thought perhaps I was one of the first to actually use Amanda’s name, and I initially felt bad about that–but no way I was going to write it without saying who I was writing about. (I now see from the list, that other people did use Amanda’s name also, not simply “X”)

    I certainly never thought it would lead to this kind of denial; I expected a “Whoops! Sorry!” and a quickly-added link.

    And it all could have been avoided, with those two sentences. The fact that simple PRIDE interferes with that, well…I am simply astounded. For someone so worried about her career, she doesn’t seem to realize how she is wrecking it with these kinds of responses, such as those in the new FEMINISTE thread you linked.


  49. Daisy,

    Unfortunately I don’t think her career’s being impacted in any substantial way. The only people who’ve suffered so far are the women who’ve spoken out, much braver, better women than Marcotte — women like BFP.

    Added you to the “please” list. Thanks!

    Feminist Punk,

    You are more optimistic than I am. 😉 Thanks for the comment! Keep speaking out, keep being heard.

    Also Katie, thanks for the link!

  50. Great post. If you would consider adding a male pro feminist voice to your growing list of links, I’d appreciate it. ( linked above) So you’re aware I’ve written about this issue for the past two days, both articles are on the site. I also wanted to clarify if it would it be okay to link your piece from my site? Thanks again for doing this, it is a great response.

  51. Alto,

    Added you. Thanks! 🙂 Also feel free to link.

  52. Just another pro feminist male that was thoroughly impressed and encouraged by your letter. I am here by way of Alto’s link, and have been following this issue all over the blogosphere, as of late. So many ignorant rants, dismissals, defensive outrages, appropriation, THEFT… It has been very frustrating and depressing to log through all of the nastiness. People of privilege, by the very nature of their privilege, are ignorant of their oppression. I hope your voice, among the growing list of others, will help to heal deaf ears.

  53. I’m mostly a “nothing” blogger, but here’s my post on the issue:

    thank you for this page.

  54. i’m a career teacher. long time feminist of all types blog lurker – first time writer on a feminist blog. uncomfortable fit with the community of feminism – theoretically in love with the practices and applications in secondary classrooms, not sure whether true sisterhood with white women is fantasy or sadly, an interactional exception. *phew* subjectivities out of the way :0)

    that said. while i am not looking for anyone to apologize or make right AM’s comments or whitestream feminism’s discord with WOC’s voices i just wanted to see that there was solidarity SOMEWHERE. that SOMEONE was listening. to me. to us. to my community’s collective bellow that this shit ain’t right. that a white female someone was out there and saw my community without commenting on its lack of its academic language (master’s tools, anyone?), bemoaning its use of the word fuck or posting distancing disregard for righteous anger and dismay at crass treatment. today is one of those days on the blogosphere that i was not shouting in the dark or at my computer screen. alone. abandoned by the white women i want to be in community with. for a moment i am not left wondering if this incredibly powerful thing i just ‘discovered’ (formed, read, examined, deconstructed, applied and NAMED) in grad school was indeed a poor fit for how i move through the world as an african-american women. with lots of other shit to do. and lots more stones to roll uphill. seriously. WOC feminist blogs are so important because women like me move in academic spaces that are sometimes hostile to our very presence or right to ‘instruct’ someone else’s (white) children. truly. i was starting to wonder on a personal level whether feminism was a luxury for me because true cross-racial and cross-cultural sisterhood was someone else’s myth…

    not that i needed an ally per se (wartenberg’s power-over disguised as power-to anyone?) but for a moment, sincerely, here, i feel like someone listened. and is telling the empress she has no clothes on this one. and i appreciate it. i think it is enough that some-white female-one heard the sound of raised and colored voices and reacted in a way that both legitimates the bellow and leaves room for further conversation. thanks. i feel like i am not standing alone…

  55. […] sisters, and the allies, the comrades, the supporters, the colleagues, the companions, the supporters […]

  56. [comment removed]

    Sam, I removed your comment because this discussion is not about Amanda Marcotte’s personality, and it is not a place for personal attacks (especially when you can’t get the name right ^^).

  57. And because it does matter and I do look back: Amanda Marcotte.

  58. There is no such thing as the “white feminist community”, singular. There are multiple communities where white feminists are the numerical majority. Not all are dismissive of WOC input/ ideas/ credit/ leadership. There also isn’t a singular WOC feminist/womanist community.

    We aren’t going to agree all the time, either. For example, I think it ridiculous to “solve” the problem of too many black men in prison by abolishing prison. I’d rather abolish drug possession sentencing to jail, and improve public defender budgets considerably, because there will always be violent people (of every demographic) preying on other people (of every demographic). I do know that many people think that the prison system is irredeemable and that society is better off (less total injustice) with offenders on the street.

  59. Rachel, @ 3:42, if I may be so bold as to say so, I don’t perceive someone who makes a principled stand on an issue is a “nothing blogger”.

  60. /tangent/btw, littlem, you’d said something about emailing me, and I realized it’s not actually on my profile. bel4 AT earthlink DOT net./tangent/

  61. […] And this letter to white feminists, from Ico. Read it, read the discussion. […]

  62. Thanks for putting all this together.

  63. *clap clap clap*

    Ditto the others thanking you for putting that together. It needed to be said.

    Honestly, this bullshit is why I am not more involved in “feminist work”, but choose to focus my community/ally work toward institutionalized racism in our school system. As a single working mom, I’ve only got so much time and energy to go around. Choose your battles and all that.

    My college aged daughter volunteered for NOW in DC for a while –she stopped precisely because of feeling like she wasn’t heard, always having to educate, then feel belittled. She’s now put her considerable energies into other areas, other isms. I wonder how many others out there that’s true for.

    Anyway, thank you for speaking out.

  64. I’ve been traveling, and am now catching up with a lot of posts, but I just wanted to say: thank you, Ico.

  65. Thank you for this post! We need more voices to say the same thing so that we can be united! Cheers!

  66. This is a really great letter, thanks for writing it.

    I wrote something kinda related to my frustration at the white feminist community, you can add it if you think it’s relevant.

  67. Rachel, echoing what Littlem said about your blogging. It takes courage to speak out. Thank you for your post!

  68. Kerrita K.,

    A longtime lurker, eh? I really think you should write more often. You have a tremendous, powerful, eloquent voice. I really appreciate your words. Thank you. Thank you for your encouragement and your kindness and for making me feel (even if too optimistically) that we CAN make things change. And re: academia and stuff — I hear ya.

  69. Hi Ico,
    Sorry for the delay. Here’s the link to my post.

  70. NancyP,

    You’re absolutely right about there being many communities and not one. In discussing it, it’s easy to refer to white feminists as a group because the majority of bloggers involved in the controversy (this and others in the past) have come out on roughly two sides — white feminists and WoC feminists (and allies). That’s if you step back and look at the problem in its broadest terms. But of course you have a huge variety of people bringing all their different experiences to the table. So absolutely, there are communities, and feminisms. I just generalized to make the argument easier to digest.

  71. Danadocus and Luci-Kali, added you! Thanks!

    And thank you to everyone voicing support!

  72. This is really a great post.

  73. Thank you. And cosigned.

  74. I am so so glad to hear some public outrage by white feminists for their own behavior. Thank you for putting this out there and for linking to those who’s voices need to be heard.

  75. Thanks for this. I just posted some thoughts about hw white feminists might think about this stuff over at my LJ blog…also inked to you from there.

  76. Thank you for compiling all of this! I had to link to this and quote for truthiness.

  77. i missed this when it first came around, but good lord. dear annoying white-identified feminists: YOU ARE FUCKING IT UP FOR THE REST OF US AND MAKING US LOOK BAD.


  78. Hi, littlem I responded to your comment (very late) over at Feministe but I’m not sure you’re reading over there anymore (I don’t blame you)…I wanted to clarify that I used the word “appropriated” because Jill had used it, not to conflate it with plagiarism. I was trying to get Jill (or anyone) to notice the discrepancy between saying *I don’t think Amanda did anything wrong* and *I have challenged Amanda to do better* (the “both ways” phenomenon…like, if you think there’s something to be “challenged”, then why can’t you also say she *did something wrong*? Just the double-speak issue). That’s all…just wanted to clarify.

  79. littlem, if you’re reading, I’m sorry there was so little support for you at that time. I just want to say that you do have support, and I’m sorry so few of us spoke up. I’m still catching up this morning and I couldn’t believe the call for banning!

    I thought it was just one commenter (who hadn’t even been involved in the discussion before attacking bd and littlem), but maybe I wasn’t reading carefully enough.

  80. Moved from above:
    [Update] the main person who attacked Littlem has apologized for doing so.

    W. T. F. WTF????????? Littlem, the woman who urged me to write this open letter, who has been consistently speaking about the wrongness of promoting the book and so much more — so much more. Who has been all over the blogosphere trying to build bridges and make white feminists see their own racism so we can start acting like allies, has been viciously attacked in a thread at Feministe. She responds angrily to a woman who wanders in and says (and I’m seriously paraphrasing but this is the gist of it), “They didn’t do it on purpose. Y’all are overreacting. Crazy angry WOC.” And do commenters over there tell this woman to get a clue? NO. Instead, they attack Littlem, spin her remarks into something completely different to make her sound crazy and threatening, and call for her to be banned.

    W. T. F. Littlem, thank you for pushing us (me most of all). Thank you for your guidance and advice. Thank you for helping us to act as allies; it’s because of your efforts that the pics were posted at all. What is happening at Feministe is shameful. And I notice that Christine (the “y’all are overreacting” poster) and the woman who attacked you have not been criticized or attacked in nearly the way you have. This is sickening.

  81. I’m late to this party, but wow. What a great post. You really make the most of the blog format. With the snapshots.. it’s such a powerful document. Well done. I know this is a goofy, academic, off-topic thing to say, but I’d love to use this is my classes. To show my students how persuasive writing is really done.

  82. Thank you kindly for the compliment, Tayari. Feel free to use. 🙂

  83. I wish i got over here sooner. This is such a great post – thanks for writing and thinking all this through. And word to everything you said 🙂

  84. I’ve also gotten my wits together to write a post about this. If you want to add it, you’re more than welcome to do so.

    Thanks for writing this, and doing the updates.

  85. Delurking to say Ico thank you so much for writing this post. I have been continually mortified, ashamed, pissed off, depressed, and sad at the way many members of the white feminist community have conducted themselves over the last few weeks. They are full of dismissive excuses and shallow reasoning all to circumvent them ever having to turn a critical eye inward. This white girl has been woken up out of the jaded reality that feminism, the way it is practiced in the U.S., is inclusive at all. I’ll go back to lurking now so I can continue learning.

  86. Here’s a thing you can do if you have fucked up in this particular manner. If you are a member of the non-target group and a person from the target group tells you that you have said or done something hurtful,
    1. shut up
    2. ask for clarification if needed (note: you might need to ask someone other than the injured party)
    3. listen to the response
    4. when you are sure that you have heard what is being said to you, say some combination of the following: (a) “thank you”, (b) “I’m sorry”, (c) “I will think more about what you’ve said.”

    It comes down to impact versus intent. It doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t *intend*; it matters what the *impact* was.

    p.s. Don’t be shocked if the person you wounded or offended does not fall to her knees with gratitude in response to your efforts to unfuck up.

    • The problem with this is that some people are just fucked up and looking for a reason to unload on someone. If one can be bothered to acquiesce to such a berating the least that the offended party can do is explain the offence and accept any apology offered. Love the article, it needed to be said.

  87. oops my post should read feminism as practiced in the US isn’t inclusive at all, not is inclusive.

  88. […] powerful post about felt she had no other choice then to stop blogging. I hope she re-thinks. Here, here and here explains […]

  89. I’ll be honest: perhaps it’s because I’m a “white feminist,” or perhaps it’s because I’m a professor of English, but I found the “open letter” largely incomprehensible. I’m sure it’s just me, but it read as dismissive and divisive. My apologies.

  90. Yeah, it’s SO feminist to roll over and die over some snotty sexist dude.

  91. Ladyj79, perhaps you should follow the many links. There are others who have explained things far more eloquently than I. I suggest reading them.

  92. I added a post on my site at about called “White Is Not Clear: Analyzing Whiteness in the Blogosphere (or World Wide Web of Whiteness).” Here I address some issues of whiteness that people are talking about here.

  93. another link for the list, if she’s cool with it i mean, just surfed across:

    ladyj: yes, it must be because you’re a professor of English and we’re all speaking unintelligible rubbish. well done you. Do you actually teach courses in “patronizing sneers” or is that just a sideline?

    signed, white chick with multiple degrees from “good” schools, parents both Harvard grad school graduates and uni professors, and oddly enough i didn’t have any trouble understanding it at all.

  94. ladyj79, if you’re having trouble comprehending it, I don’t know how much business you have teaching English.

  95. I posted before writing down my second, much more important thought, which was that I love this open letter and I thank the writer for writing it.

  96. “I’ll be honest: perhaps it’s because I’m a “white feminist,” or perhaps it’s because I’m a professor of English, but I found the “open letter” largely incomprehensible. I’m sure it’s just me, but it read as dismissive and divisive. My apologies.”

    ladyj79, I laughed so much at your comment that I couldn’t even type. You didn’t understand what was written? And you are a professor? Of English? Ha ha ha ha. Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

  97. Brilliant. Thank you for posting this.

  98. thanks. sure, quote me. i’m going to make an update asap though to clarify one thing about the internet and its biases, so maybe you wanna wait. if not, go right ahead and do you.

    i want someone to call me out if they disagree. i don’t need to be right, ya know?

  99. Thanks. 🙂 No worries about the update — I’m bogged down in some stuff right now IRL so new links/posts to this page probably won’t happen ’till next week.

  100. Hey, Ico –

    I just read you on belle’s blog.

    1) The joke is on the P.A.W.L. prof (and I’m sure you know who I mean) because she doesn’t know — or didn’t bother to read — how you identify ethnically.

    2) The second thing I popped in to tell you is not to worry about the “free speech” thing.

    Know why?

    From what I’ve read, it’s really only censorship when the government does it.


  101. True. 🙂 And if I want to see where a lack of moderation can lead, I could always hop on over to Pandagon to see how productive the discussion is.

  102. Yeah, my own moderation policy has been pretty much “no shirt, no social skills, no service, except I don’t actually care about the shirt. And barring that, at -least- be an -entertaining- troll.”

  103. […] call for a Seal Press girlcott, open letters to white feminists from Jessica Hoffman and Ico, and  A.J. Rossmiller’s and Kay Steiger’s highlighting of the marginalization of women […]

  104. Wow, thank you for this post. I just encountered this blog–and this whole neighborhood of the blogosphere–after reading about the original controversy on Feminocracy.

    Those of us with privilege really need to get together and figure out a productive way to discuss these issues with other privileged folks. Ignorance of intersectionality is even more frustrating in seemingly radical environments where people are at least ostensibly aware of one form of oppression… it should be so natural to then realize that all forms of oppression are working together.

    Anyway, thank you for your words. Keep up the struggle.

  105. […] with my feminism. And hey, what better time than now? I’m sure many of you are aware that feminism is not in a good place right […]

  106. That was a wonderful post. It did my heart good to see that finally SOMEONE GETS IT. I started a blog after lurking for sometime because I got sick and tired of the way that WOC are treated. Please consider adding my link.

    I identify as a womanist because I feel that feminism does not have a place for people that do not fit within a defined racial, class and sexual category. Womanism to me speaks a truth that feminism today is just lacking.

  107. O.o

    I just realized that I never actually added you to the list, Renee. And Womanist Musings is one of my fav blogs! OMG! Apparently I was living on another planet.

    *mortified* Here we go, nine months later. *dies*

  108. […] one I want to talk about is the one that actually links in to me (natch), and the legacy of white women’s feminism.  The path of American feminism has been largely created by white straight middle class women […]

  109. rad post.

  110. […] one I want to talk about is the one that actually links in to me (natch), and the legacy of white women’s feminism.  The path of American feminism has been largely created by white straight middle class women […]

  111. […] dearwhitefeminists’ open letter to the white feminist community, with a blogroll of […]

  112. “Briefly, my aim is to examine the case of a society which has been loudly castigating itself for its hypocrisy for more than a century, which speaks verbosely of its own silence, takes great pains to relate in detail the things it does not say, denounces the powers it exercises, and promises to liberate itself from the very laws that have made it function.”

  113. Over two years of trench warfare, and then you all suddenly abandon the post! Ha ha ha! The blogspace is miiiiiiiiiine!!! Aaaaaaaalllll Miiiiiiiiiiine to do with as I please! None of you have the guts for a real virtual guerrilla war! I win by default again!!!! The horror! The Horror!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  114. Under the linden, On the heath, Where my sweetheart st with me, There you can find, Broken, both, Colorful flowers and grass. In the nearby woods, with ringing sound
    So sweetly sang the nightingale.
    I came walking
    Up to the meadow,
    My sweetheart waited there already
    And received me–
    Noble lady–
    So that I’m blissful forevermore,
    Did he also kiss me then?
    Look, how red my mouth is.
    Then he made,
    Nimble with joy,
    A small resting-place for the two of us.
    They laugh about this
    Surely still today
    If someone should pass by that way.
    From the roses he probably can
    Tell where my head was lying.
    There he caressed me,
    If someone should know it,
    God forbid! I would be ashamed;
    And how he joked.
    May no one, no one
    Learn this but him and me
    And that little bird–
    That will surely be discreet.

  115. […] about contemporary issues of whiteness and classness in the movement has the darling title, “Dear white feminists, quit goddamn fucking up.” I encourage you to check it out- it includes a lot of interesting quotes from both sides of […]

  116. […] about contemporary issues of whiteness and classness in the movement has the darling title, “Dear white feminists, quit goddamn fucking up.” I encourage you to check it out- it includes a lot of interesting quotes from both sides of […]

  117. I have noticed that the feminist mantra women and blacks, which, in the UK ,is repeated ad nausium in the media, meaning white women and black men is extremely sexist and racist because not only does it ignore black women and their concerns it also descriminates against black women on the basis of race and gender. Yes, white feminists are racist and white feminism is racist. Yes I am very interested in this blog because I hate the hypocrasy of white feminism, to say nothing of white feminists.

  118. how get followers on twitter…

    […]An Open Letter to the White Feminist Community: « Dear white feminists,[…]…

  119. What is white privilege? I don’t get it. Please tell me how this is used? I don’t comprehend. Doesn’t everybody just want to stay safe in their own community where people will not abuse them? I don’t get it. I’m white and this comment bugs me. I can’t understand. I’ve never noticed this.

    • Robin, no one is surprised by your willful ignorance. This is why a college drop out gets to question the academic qualifications of a Harvard educated black man with impunity.

      • roben you dont get it becauds you ar cis white scum patriarcy colabberator infiltrater scum ! anneixam fuck all harvard graduate, black harvard students are cis patriacy callaboraters down with collaberators they haf to be clensed from the identity politic body time to get down to healthy flesh, tran-color lesbian only! all others are collaberaotor infeltraers identity politics yes harvard black patriarcy collaberator NEver Quit goddam fuckeng up! !

  120. I don’t like abusive “feminists” who want “white women” grateful and licking brown people’s boot soles. I don’t understand these comments and they’re degrading and rude.

    • #whitepriveledge

  121. Most of my life I have lived as an intellectual reading books and writing articles in the hope that a few will be published, some of which were in fact, so this is my reason for resarching black feminism. My initial response is for USA black feminists to reach out for their black sisters everywhere throughout he globe. From what I have seen in the UK white feminists use black women in order to boost their lilly white egos.

  122. The USA is dogged by racism. In Europe ethnicity is an important factor that cannot be avoided. It is not like dividing people into priviledged white and under-privillaged non-white. American stereotypes cannot be imported into Europe without harming people. It is a stereotype that all Europeans are white, but we have millions of brown and yellow native Europeans, and even a small number of black Europeans. All Europeans are very much aware that they are native Europeans. Millions of non-white immigrants were brought into Europe as cheap labor. In Europe the idea that white European women can make some kind of common cause with non-white native European men and non-white immigrant men is just plain rediculous. It makes feminism and feminists look idiotic despite the very urgent need to overcome sexism.

  123. […] An Open Letter to the White Feminist Community linked by Elizabeth […]

  124. God, you black bitches are so racist. Sad for you.

    • Part of the white feminist movement is to turm black men into Uncle Toms.

    • Become the change you want to see bitch.

  125. […] it is hardly the biggest challenge feminism needs to address.  Most of my readers will have seen something like this at some point, but in case you haven’t, or if you haven’t in a while, here are a few […]

  126. The problem with white feminists is that they want it both ways. They want to wrap themselves up in liberal arts degrees paid for by the government, then they want affirmative action jobs in government. But then they also want alimony, palimiony and spousal benefits. As soon as they can nab a rich man, they get out of the workforce, fast. Hence, white women are the biggest beneficiaries of spousal benefits.

  127. This post gives clear idea for the new viewers of blogging, that truly
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  128. Reblogged this on Louise's Feminist Musings and commented:
    Apparently racism IS a problem in feminism. I thought, naively apparently, that women who are not taken for full would not themselves treat others like they are not real people. But it happens apparently.

  129. It’s white priveledge and hypocracy at its plainest. My favourite part was when immigration issues were referred to as concerning only those of colour, so the sacred cow of suffrage was a women’s issue then.
    I warn you, we put these white bitches first while they put us last. They dont want allies they simply want followers to further their own “careers” as feminists. And yeah, I could have put quotations around te word feminists too.

  130. […] in the right age or tax brackets. She will take credit for creating online feminism when, in fact, it predates her involvement. When faced with legitimate criticism, she will dismiss it as jealousy and infighting, or respond […]

  131. The notion that WOC should start their own blogs sounds like mansplaining. If women want more jobs in X market they should study harder, if women want more comics made they should write them, if women want to be in game development they should start their own company.

    I hate hearing women use this against other women, especially WOC who have enough shit to deal with already.

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    • shemale are whiet male femenest movment userpors its true i read mary daily gyn-ecalogy and she sais so trans color womyn must stand unite aganst fals patriarcy colaberotor scum drag empersenaters who spread whit supremecy with there seudo radicaal shit i call you on yor shit! no mor shemale empersonaters on our identity politic train tran-color-lesbians only statistic prove wea re only identity that does not rape all other identiy are fake cis whit male patriarcy callabortors!

      • quit goddamm fuckeng up!

  133. What a lovely racist tirade this article is.

    Crush identity politics.

    • dan yuo are a whiet male mansplaning sack of patriarcal shet fuck you identitypolitics rocks we wont be ketp down no not by your fachesm not by anything fuck off peice of shiet fuck you fuck all white man and cis white woman man colaberators die!

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  139. […] “An Open Letter to the White Feminist Community” by Dear White Feminists […]

  140. Reblogged this on Ardent Fangirl and commented:
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