White women: we have two choices: unlearn racism, stand in solidarity with all women and femmes and follow women of color leaders, or be servile to and perpetuate the patriarchy.
White supremacy is patriarchy’s number one tool to maintain power.
White women constantly give up our power because we are conditioned from birth to not use it, to believe Prince Charming is going to swoop in and do everything for us like in a Disney movie.
Exercising our power makes us uncomfortable. Speaking truth to power makes us uncomfortable. Relating across difference as equals makes us uncomfortable, since we don’t know how to do it. And we can’t bear discomfort.
“I’d rather stand alongside a man I know than a woman of color who he raped.” Then offer a lame apology after offering lame apologies for other racist stuff I’ve done.
Change doesn’t happen in comfort, white women.
Change happens when we get real real uncomfortable.
In the immortal words of Frederick Douglass:
“Who would be free, themselves must strike the blow…..If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.
This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, and it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”
Patriarchy harms us and our daughters mothers sisters friends every day white women. Patriarchy kills us, beats us, rapes us, harasses us, prevents us from being our full selves.
But we still identify with white men because we want to maintain our position in the racial hierarchy.
When I look around, I see very few white women, both household names and less famous women, who recognize this truth and are willing to experience the discomfort required to break free.
And 53% of us voted for a pussygrabber endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.
On the other side of that discomfort white women is sisterhood, is friendship, is joy.
And someday soon, when enough of us join in, there is freedom for all women.
Those are our choices, white women.
Which side are you on?
Karen Fleshman, Esq. is an attorney, activist, single soccer mom, and a nationally recognized expert on racism, feminism, workplace fair practices, police brutality, and politics.
Working in nonprofits and local government, Karen came to understand that racism is the underlying problem in our society.
In 2014, Karen founded Racy Conversations, a workshop facilitation company, to help people feel more willing and able to communicate honestly with each other about racism, and to do so with increased empathy and understanding. Racy Conversations are held in communities and universities throughout the United States to inspire the first antiracist generation. In workplaces, Racy Conversations change culture by creating a brave space to address unconscious bias, micro aggressions, sexual harassment, and allyship. Organizations including the Sierra Club, the Wikimedia Foundation, Yahoo, Sony, Xero, Upwork, and KARGO have hosted Racy Conversations.
Karen’s passion project is to build interracial sisterhood and raise antiracist children. She is the author of a forthcoming book for white women about racism, blogs for Huffington Post, Moguldom, and Blavity, and is a Medium Top Voice on Racism, Feminism, and Politics. Karen cohosts Inclusive Conversations in cities across the United States, events designed to unite women across age, race, sexual orientation, and class. She frequently facilitates workshops on “How to Teach Your Kids About Racism.”
With her Women’s March sisters from across the country, Karen was arrested five times at the US Senate protesting the confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh and once protesting family separation. Karen is a police accountability activist, and she serves on the workgroup overseeing implementation of the United States Department of Justice recommendations on ending bias at the San Francisco Police Department.
Karen is a graduate of Mount Holyoke College, the University of Texas at Austin, and New York Law School, and is admitted to practice law in New York.