The #WhiteSplaining of #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen

by Ana Maria Defillo

Mainstream feminism [still] has a serious problem. But if you are a Person of Color (POC), then you probably already knew that.

If you use the Internet, you've probably heard about Mikki Kendall and her resurrection of a neglected issue in the mainstream world of feminism: racism within the movement. On Monday, Kendall launched the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, igniting a fire among POC all over the world.

When I saw how many people all over the world quickly used the hashtag to vent the same frustrations I often feel, a huge wave of relief came over me. The issue that Kendall brought back to the mainstream is something that's obviously been weighing heavily on many of us. In one day, the hashtag was used by over 63,000 people.

As a recent newcomer to the digital feminist-writing world, I quickly noticed that white feminists talking about POC issues received way more attention than actual POC talking about these same exact issues. (Take Jessica Valenti of fame, as opposed to Mikki Kendall and Colorlines' Aura Bogado, who do the same work, and are far less well-known.) It's pretty damn frustrating. I am really sick and tired of seeing women being celebrated for their intersectional analysis of the movement and empty calls for more women of color to participate in the conversation when we are RIGHT HERE.

Don't get me wrong — it's great to have powerful allies, but it would be even greater if women of color could be used as an authority for our own issues.

In yesterday's Huffington Post Live panel on #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, Professor Tara Conley reiterated this fact, pointing out that "Women of color are doing work. We are doing work in the classrooms, we are doing work online, we have been doing work online. We're doing work in various media platforms."

But we don't get the same attention as white feminists who are so in touch about our struggles. Jezebel, one of the organizations called out by this hashtag, proved to the Internet how big this problem really is by originally failing to reach out to the actual person who started the conversation.

But they added a nice little update at the end of the article so I guess that makes up for everything, right?

Update: The originator of the hashtag page, Mikki Kendall, has been incredibly influential to this conversation and should have been at the top of this list. See her speak more on the hashtag here. To have not included her in the original post was an oversight. Apologies to Ms. Kendall.

An oversight of the person who originated the hashtag? No. sorry. Not an oversight.

Before the Bustle criticisms begin, I should note that yesterday I was asked by my editor to cover the story for Bustle. It was my day off, and I didn't have time to cover it the way it deserved to be covered. Instead, I suggested I could write an editorial today. My colleague Ariana Tobin did a kick ass job reporting the story yesterday, and was even praised by Kendall herself.

Check out Bustle's Q&A with Mikki Kendall to find out more about #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen. Thank you Kendall for bringing this issue back to light. Internet, now you know POC exist. Let's see what you do about it.

Photo: @AJStream