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Feminist Homework #NotInMyName

June 21, 2015

If you are an ally, doing the work of an ally then thank you. Now step aside. I’m not talking to you.

Dear White Women,

Remember the last time we talked? When I took you by the hand and led you gently and sweetly through the many reasons that you should care about the lives of Black people? Remember how I pointed out that the abuse that a majority of you have survived is analogous to the abuse that America heaps upon its citizens with dark skin?

The hand holding is over now.

Get your shit together.

Nine people are dead.

Six of them were women.

He killed them in your name.

The racists in this country think you are so weak, and so pathetic, and frankly not entirely adult, human people who can think and act for themselves that they kill us in your name. In their eyes you are things, property which needs to be guarded and defended and as such, you’re an excuse to walk into a church and kill people while they pray.

He killed them in your name.

He killed them in your name because he wanted to “start a race war.” He wanted to start one. As if the race war isn’t something that was started in the 1600s. As if this attack isn’t just one more salvo in that war. As if these nine human beings, these five women,aren’t more casualties of that war.

Cynthia Hurd, she worked at the library. She dedicated her life to books, to sharing books with other people.

Depayne Middleton Doctor, was a devout woman who devoted her life to her church and her family.

Myra Thompson, she loved her church and the historic buildings of that church and her family and her friends.

Susie Jackson, she mothered everyone who knew her. That’s what they are all saying, She mothered you and loved you and taught you to do right.

Ethel Lance, she loved to dress up and take her family to the theater where she was a custodian for 30 years. No, not the movies, the theater. Black people do that too.

Sharonda Coleman-Singleton was everything to the people in her life, teacher, coach, mother, leader.

She was everything.

They were everything.

Their lives mattered.

#Black Lives Matter

And now they are dead.

They are dead in your name.

And it’s time for you to care. It’s time for you to do something, because we are done holding your hands.

These people were the perfect victims. They were literally sitting in their church, I would assume with their pants pulled up acceptably high, singing acceptable songs being acceptably Black and they are still dead. There was nowhere that anyone who is rational with a functional soul could go to insist that they somehow brought their deaths upon themselves, which hasn’t stopped people from trying, of course, but it’s not working.

They were perfect and that is the only reason that even the comparatively small amount of public mourning over their deaths is happening.

But they are still dead in your name.

Jon Stewart Serious

This one is black and white.

This. One.

Since I last wrote to you a man has been shot in the back while running for his life, a man was shot in the head while asking for help, a man had his spine severed while handcuffed in the back of a police van and you have sat idly by, worse than that, you have made it clear that you think that those people deserved it. You have demanded that we defend their right to exist while Black and implicitly or explicitly stated that our anger had no foundation and those lives had no value.

But, you know, this one is unambiguous.

In that time when something happened to one of you or if you wanted to talk about the pay gap or reproductive rights or anything else that actually matters to you, you looked to us and demanded our solidarity.

You looked to us and expected us to fall into lie and when we didn’t because you were still making it as clear as you possibly could that you didn’t want to hear about our unimportant concerns you told us we were not really feminists.

Don’t believe me? This happened yesterday.

Women's Rights News2

Just one of literally twenty plus examples of this conversation I’ve had in the past two days. I redacted the names because the women who wrote those things aren’t alone and singling them out won’t serve the purpose I have here.

What purpose?

To tell you that you need to get your shit together. I believe I mentioned that previously.

Some of you are currently wondering what to do. That is good.

Some of you are currently gearing up to type something about how I am mean or how you think if I just let you police my tone or if Black people would just do some impossible thing to prove our value then you could be moved to care. That is not good. That is racist.

For those of you in the second group I want you to scroll back to the top of this blog, read the tag line under the title, go here, then go here. Then ask yourself whether or not your attempts to preserve and defend your privilege is something I am even remotely interested in right now. Here’s a hint. No I am not. Stop typing.

Those of you in the first you in the first group should listen up. This is what you need to do.

You need to reject the kind of paternal misogynistic bullshit that leads white men to kill us in your name. You need to stop accepting your status as delicate flower in need of protection all the time, not just when that rejection serves your issues. If you aren’t rejecting it all of the time, then you’re accepting it some of the time and that makes you a part of the thing that is killing Black people..You need to say that this was not done in your name. You need to put it on your Facebook page and your Tumblr #NotInMyName should be trending based on the work you put in to reject this act of terrorism and the racism behind it. You need to make that a part of your daily mantra online and in person. You have to do this work because I’m tired. We’re all tired and we’re still mourning our dead. You have to do this work because if Black people could have ended White Supremacy, we would have done that by now. You have to do it and when you’re done with that work, you have to come back and pick up more work to do.

Here are your assignments: Listen to us, not talk about how you don’t like being told that you benefit from White Supremacy. Never deny that you benefit from White Supremacy. Be led, never try to take over leadership in anti-racist groups or spaces. Erase any inkling of the vestigial urge to take things personally when we talk about White Women™ and White Feminism™. Dry your tears when they come as a result of someone pointing out the things you do that foster White Supremacy. Learn to give a proper apology when you do something that fosters White Supremacy. Weaponize your privilege on behalf of the marginalized. If you do these things you will have made a good start.

In short, get your shit together. It is long past time.

Edited to add the sixth name. In my defense, there may have been some crying while I was writing this.

10 Comments leave one →
  1. June 22, 2015 10:14 AM

    Thanks for this, and also to a friend of mine who shared this post on facebook, which led to me finding your blog. I believe I remember you from livejournal a million years ago, and it’s great to read what you’re writing now.

  2. Anonypilgrim permalink
    June 22, 2015 4:21 PM

    Brava

  3. June 23, 2015 10:42 AM

    Reblogged this on Carmilla Voiez and commented:
    #NotInMyName

  4. June 23, 2015 5:35 PM

    This was so hard to read and so spot on. My god. This anger is so well articulated and I don’t know how you managed to write it. Thank you for the unapologetic in-your-face reality check. Brava, indeed. #NotInMyName

  5. mary permalink
    June 23, 2015 6:30 PM

    I hear you and validate you. I know it it is only one voice, I know it is not enough. You matter, the lives in that church mattered, black lives matter. The only sad thing is that i have to say it.

  6. Rene harper permalink
    June 23, 2015 8:54 PM

    Fantastic! Thank you for this. Possibly a stupid question…and if so, please excuse me, but why is White Women and White Feminism trademarked?

    • June 23, 2015 9:34 PM

      Because I’m talking about brands, specific behaviors in many but not all people who fall under the umbreallas, like White Women’s Tears and compsrisons in oppression which they use to ignore interseactionality and the voices of far too many people so they don’the have to do the work of allies.

  7. June 24, 2015 4:40 AM

    Thank you for writing this article. I’m here to listen.

  8. Archivista permalink
    June 24, 2015 11:25 AM

    Thank you for your truth. I needed to know. #notinmyname

  9. Annie permalink
    June 24, 2015 2:38 PM

    I shared a similar post recently, and I will share this one too. I am a white woman. When I was 16 I was raped at knife-point by another teenager, a young black man. Standing in court, testifying to this, was humiliating for me, and in the end, because the other person was also a minor, the sentence doled out was 90 days in jail, and 24 months probation. I married a black man four years later, and stayed married for a decade. He was verbally abusive, extremely violent, and he cheated. I cannot have children due to uterine injuries sustained during the rape. I am divorced, I live alone, in Kansas City, where my mostly black neighbors are helpful, considerate, and capable of good and bad, just like myself. I have dated or been social with black, white, Hispanic and Latino men without ever having considered that somewhere out there, I would be the reason that a white man killed innocent black women and men in church. I am not an excuse for violence, even though violence has been done to me. I was raped by a boy I thought was my friend, and I was beaten and stabbed by my husband, –these were people I trusted, they were not faceless, nameless black men. I neither want nor need the assistance of a deranged white man to protect me. Those of us who are abuse SURVIVORS, and NOT victims, should also be willing to stand up, and put their foot down. I refuse to use what happened to be as an excuse to be silent. We were named. My last point, before I shut up. My youngest sister is in NC, also attends church, and is of mixed race. Should I be concerned that someone is going to shoot my eight-year old baby sister, to protect me? I’m her big sister, I should be protecting her. A girl in Charleston laid down among her family and friends, and survived by pretending to be dead. Just a couple hours north, lives my sister, who I hope will never share that experience. Like the lady says, get your shit together, and white ladies, white girls, white women; get your heads out of the sand.

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