After last week’s discussion in class about white conservative feminists and how they use their power in politics to protect the patriarchy, I wanted to talk more about how this has affected the civic engagement of women of color and other marginalized groups. To further explain the point I am trying to make; I want to give some background information. In Mikki Kendall’s book Hood Feminism Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot, she addresses some complex topics like the barriers countless voters face and how little protection and advocacy there is for minorities in the political arena.
When referring to White conservative feminists, we are talking about the women on the right who use their privilege to advocate for feminist issues that are separate from class, race, ability, and other oppressors that marginalized groups of women face daily. The white conservative feminist ignores that women of color have several oppressors, not just the white man, and they have different struggles as most U.S systems of government are used to work against them. Kendall uses examples in her book that describe the efforts a black woman could feel when calling the cops; she is forced to think will this hurt me or help me to get law enforcement involved? White women don’t have to think twice when calling law enforcement because they’ve never seen it as a symbol of the violence that minority communities know it to be.
Kendall’s book also discusses that when white conservative feminists are given a chance in politics to hold some sort of power, that too often they use their position to elect other politicians who don’t want to protect women’s or minorities’ rights. The problem is the fear that white conservative women have when it comes to fighting the patriarchy for all women. It’s a tale as old as time as we see this problem is still prevalent, the third wave of feminism that primarily focuses on issues of racism and homophobia struggles to move forward.
The history of marginalizing groups of people in the U.S has been well documented for years. “Although women were given the right to vote in 1920, the voting rights act of 1965 used literacy tests and poll taxes to stop black and indigenous people from voting”( Kendall, 185). Barriers for people of color weren’t removed after the Jim Crow era was over; politicians have found other ways to restrict voting. Many states have adopted policies that create these barriers during voter registration, like strict voter ID requirements and reduction of the number of polling places. Many of the states who enforce these strict policies have a long history of racial discrimination in regards to voting which reveals their motives more obviously. Both the left and right sides have been ignoring just how obviously these voting restrictions have been hurting low-income citizens and communities of color.
Today’s feminist movement cannot ignore voting rights for all; for far too long white women had championed the cause when it involved their rights being threatened, but where are they now? The future of feminism must change for the better; we must be better allies to communities of color, all lives can’t matter until we make sure that everyone is treated equally. Voting rights for all is a foundational issue that needs more attention, we must do better.
KENDALL, MIKKI. HOOD FEMINISM: Notes from the Women White Feminists Forgot. BLOOMSBURY PUBLISHING, 2021.