Naming what sucks about white women is really easy and really satisfying. We do it a lot, especially us white women. We get to have the satisfaction of differentiating ourselves from the white female “prototype” ie. a hetero barbie who is a pretty, nice, passive, pure, covertly racist, helpless trophy and (do a really common thing that white women do) compare ourselves and think, “See we know what that is, and we are better than that”. In our workshops we spend a lot of time naming what the white female prototype is in an effort to shift towards a radical anti-racist white female practice and away from the myth that we are all just individuals with no culture (we may not want to claim it as our culture, but it impacts us all nonetheless). After this mostly negative naming (see the White Female Culture post) we’ve asked, “What’s awesome about white women?”
This question always makes us incredibly uncomfortable. If whiteness is itself a construct and tool of white supremacy, how can we talk about the positive aspects of it? Eeeeek! I asked a friend and mentor today about this conundrum, and he reminded me that we are white because of our relationship to white supremacy – whether that’s a negative relationship (you are perpetuating it/ doing nothing about it) or a positive relationship (you are actively dismantling it).
So perhaps the question then is not “what’s awesome about white women?”, but “how do you feel positive about yourself as a white woman?”
Given that we have been socialized to dislike ourselves, our bodies, and told we are guilty of original sin, aren’t pure enough, and are encouraged to be brainless, pretty and afraid, there is no liberation found in simply talking smack about ourselves and naming why we suck. I think its more likely to be found in taking a sobering and authentic look at both how we unconsciously perpetuate white supremacy and honor what we are doing to dismantle it as we work to co-create a more just, equitable, and resilient world (and recognize and accept those other parts of ourselves that rock too).
Maybe then, and maybe only then will we surrender those unearned privileges we get from our skin that provide us with status and a superficial sense of self worth.