Much of the popular feminist movement today has been dominated by White Feminism — a reach for equality that neglects the issues and concerns that pertain to women of color. Although every white person who is a feminist does not follow this misinformed approach to gender equality, there are an alarming number of feminists that only emphasize the needs of white women. Amongst rampant violence, fetishization and appropriation. Women of color are currently — and have always — experienced economic and political disparities that popular feminism fails to address. According to a study done by The American Association of University Women in 2015, white women earn on average 78 cents for every white man’s dollar. However, women of color are earning even less with Hispanic women at 54 percent, Black women at 65 percent and Native American women earning 65 percent of what the average white man makes. Unfortunately, these realities are widely unrecognized and are not being fought for on a large enough scale. However, women of color are increasingly using their public platforms to raise awareness and call out for inclusivity.
A key contributor to Chicana literature, Sandra Cisneros, uses her writing to combat gendered norms in Chicano society as well as in the broader society. She acknowledges the different field of experience Chicana women have and the contribution race has to womanhood. In an interview with author and professor Feroza Jussawalla, Cisneros explains that she doesn’t feel her feminism aligns with that of upper-class white women because her experience as a woman is tied to her race. She shares her experiences in her most recent book “A House of My Own.”
Actress Amandla Stenberg experienced many hateful, racist comments after her portrayal of Rue in The Hunger Games and for her exposure of Kylie Jenner’s cultural appropriation in 2015; however, she has not been silenced. Giving a voice to the teenage population, Stenberg has called for the uplifting of black female voices in mainstream feminism and an end to confusing strongly opinionated black women with being angry and aggressive. Through her influence and highlighting of intersectional feminism, she has recently been co-awarded Ms. Foundation of Women’s Feminist Celebrity of the Year.
The goal is not to drive severance between the movement for gender equality, but to be more inclusive with our efforts and acknowledge that not every woman has the same struggle. As seen through the actions of these powerful feminists, there is hope to make progress in the right direction. Until we collectively acknowledge the intersection of racial and ethnic inequality and gender inequality that a large portion of our population is experiencing, we are not fighting for the equality of everyone.
But how can we contribute something that matters? As college students, it is important for us to realize our potential to make progress in this movement. First, we must properly educate ourselves on the issue. There are plenty of bloggers, artists, authors and researchers who are creating easily accessible material that explains the problem of non-inclusive feminism and share their own experiences. After that, we must actively speak out. We are surrounded by brilliant and passionate minds both on campus and digitally who just need a spark of awareness to this issue in order to change the way we have approached feminism. Our generation may have inherited the flaws of our society but it is our choice whether or not we decide to collectively fix them.
This is the opinion of Vinkya Hunter, a freshman communication studies major from Oakland, California Tweet comments to @LALoyolan, or email mgaydos@theloyolan.