Rich White Feminists…Us Black Girls Are Busy

Recently, rich white women have been demanding that other oppressed groups drop our respective struggles and help uplift them. In an interview with Out, pop icon Madonna revealed that she feels women rights have been stagnant since 1983, while other marginalized groups have made substantial social and political gains.

“It’s moved along for the gay community, for the African-American community, but women are still just trading on their ass. To me, the last great frontier is women.”

Here we go again.

I’m not hear to play Oppression Olympics, and I do not compare plights of one subjugated demographic to another. But I feel both uncomfortable and frustrated when rich white women tell me that I’m doing better than them. It was only weeks ago when Patricia Arquette uttered the same nonsense at the Oscars. In a stark sense of irony, a woman with both race and class privilege, stood before a predominately white audience of millions, in a room full of other wealthy white people, and spoke to white-focused media and said:

“It’s time for all the women in America, and all the men that love women and all the gay people and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

The backlash, especially from Black feminists, was swift and insightful. Mainstream feminist talking points regularly center on equality and the wage gap; 77 cents has become synonymous with the modern feminist struggle. But the fact that this figure represents white female wages to those of white men is usually left out of the conversation. Black women make 65 cents to a white man’s dollar, and Hispanics and Latinos make 54 cents.

Literally left out of the mainstream feminist conversation, feminists of color and womanists were rightfully upset with Patricia Arquette’s comments that demanded our precious labor in their struggle–a struggle that routinely fails to take our issues into account.

But we’re busy. We have a lot to do. We live at the intersection of race and gender, and our stories, labor, and struggles are either whitewashed to fit into a mainstream narrative, or suppressed within the confines of Black masculinity.

Gazi Kodzo said it best:

Black women are too busy fighting for justice, not equality. And there are many injustices for us to choose from.

We seek justice when affirmative action programs, despite being championed as a hallmark in racial justice, benefit white women the most.

We seek justice for 64,000 Black women who are missing, both in body and media presence.

We seek justice for Aiyana Jones –who was 7 when police shot her as she slept– Rekia Boyd, Yvette Smith, Tyisha Miller and so many other Black women who are sexually assaulted or killed by law enforcement and vigilantes, but spark no global outrage.

We seek justice for the souring number of Black women trapped in prisons and sterilized. We seek justice for the Black girls who are funneled into the prison industrial complex through the educational system — a system that’s supposed to protect and enlighten young minds, not criminalize them.

We seek justice for Black queer and transgender women are culturally, systematically, and politically ignored.

We seek justice for our bodies that are culturally appropriated, mocked, violated, disregarded, and brutalized.

So when Madonna says that the African American community has moved along, but woman are the last frontier, it shows a grave lack of intersectional understanding. When Patricia Arquette demands that our labor is best served advancing a cause from which we receive little benefit or consideration, it shows a deaf ear to current Black female issues that look a lot like systematic and cultural genocide.

I do believe it possible for white and Black feminists to work together in advancing women. But without a comprehensive, intersectional understanding of how race and class privilege drastically alter the nature and severity of our struggles, I can’t waste time holding a vapid 77 cent banner.

Editors Note: A reader brought to my attention that the word “transgendered” is culturally and grammatically erroneous. I have since corrected the language, and will be especially mindful in the future.

*Featured Image Credit:

Suggested Reading:Black America’s Hidden Tax: Why This Feminist of Color is Going on Strike” Dr. Brittney Cooper, Salon.

New Series: Voices from the Inside — Breaking the Silence: The Cost of Cramps.” Pamela Baker, Crunk Feminist Collective.

photo 1Arielle Newton, Founder/Editor-in-Chief. Get at me @arielle_newton. Get at us @BlkMillennials.


4 responses to “Rich White Feminists…Us Black Girls Are Busy

  1. Wow… this was so harsh but so true…
    I honestly don’t know why Madonna thinks she’s done anything for feminism… or why she’s feeling owed. Her stagnation happened when she decided to convert to being Jewish and called herself Esther or some nonsense. During her NFL superbowl medley years ago she was cast as a roman type worshipped cleopatra riding out on the backs of gladiators, shifting to a routine where Nicki Miinaj and M.I.A had to be her pom pom cheer back-up squad, then she makes Ceelo the general of her army, and proceeds to do her big religious finale where it’s the church of the NFL with Madonna as ruling queen which is pretty much Madonna casting everyone as her slave (nothing new there). And…Boo hoo hoo Madonna… isn’t feeling the money equity? WTF?
    Anyhow… I agree you don’t owe white women or white feminists. I think it’s not about you having to wait or ask for your power, but rather taking your power… and you shouldn’t be expected to give in order to get the right things.
    The backlash and resistance will always try to cow you into submission, and a proper place according to their fears and for the comfort of the status quo, but it doesn’t mean you aren’t right…


  2. Hi Arielle, just a quick note about the term “transgendered,” I suggest transgender instead of a verbal modifier. You can read about the term “The adjective transgender should never have an extraneous “-ed” tacked onto the end. An “-ed” suffix adds unnecessary length to the word and can cause tense confusion and grammatical errors. It also brings transgender into alignment with lesbian, gay, and bisexual. You would not say that Elton John is “gayed” or Ellen DeGeneres is “lesbianed,” therefore you would not say Chaz Bono is “transgendered.””

    Thanks for this piece it’s so finfuriating and frustrating hearing white women spew this on the regular.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: March PDX Black Feminism Meetup | wocpdxzines·

Share Your Truth

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s