I know, I know! Other women that I greatly admire have talked to me about why it is almost always pointless to even engage in conversations with radical feminists (who are overwhelmingly white, Western, non-disabled women in number) because of the eurocentric, racist, ablist past that is associated with radical feminism. I feel like they are right in that we don't need to educate them or answer their questions because if they want answers all they have to do is go and read what other feminists have already written and spoken about this stuff.
I've been trying to understand why I feel so compelled to try and discuss the nature of bigotry with white people. I think part of it, okay A LOT of it, may have to do with my feelings about who I am. I mean, when I think about non-disabled people as a class, I don't feel like they are a group that I belong to so, when non-disabled people do something that is ablist, I don't feel like they are representing the group that I belong to so I don't have to disavow their actions or feel particularly responsible for them. However, when I think about white people as a class, I can never quite get it out of my mind that this is a group that I am inextricable from for several reasons.
Most of the black, NDN and latin@ people in my life can state with relative certainty that there's probably at least one or two white people in their ancestry. I mean, even if they don't know the ancestor's name, unless you are among the first or maybe second generation born in this country, a person of color is probably going to have some white ancestors. For most of people of color I know, this isn't really a big deal. I mean, we do have slavery and the systematic raping that went along with it to thank for some of those white ancestors of people of color.
Because of how they got there, lots of folks aren't exactly thrilled about the existence of their white ancestors. I know I've probably got some white ancestors that entered my family tree that way too and they are not even worth remembering so I'm glad that there isn't a record of who they are. My issues have to deal with my other white ancestors, the ones who are there because of consensual relationships between people of different ethnicities.
St. Patrick's Day comes along and I'm always feeling like "Yeah-hay! A toast to my clan, every woman and every man!" and it feels really good to think about the shared experiences of Irish immigrants and people of the Maafa. I like to think about how my French ancestor Lafayette was an active abolitionist and advocate for religious tolerance. I'm REALLY proud of that. I rarely talk about my heritage without
Then there's my inter-racial relationship/immediate family. My partner has a German heritage and he's really proud of that and it's something we celebrate here. I've got my Oktober-fest shirts and I never pass up an opportunity to eat some wursts and drink some German lager. Hell, even our car is German. My daughter's bio-dad has an Sicilian Italian heritage. I'm not Italian but I sure do my best to teach her about the accomplishments of people of Italian-descent.
All this means that, beyond the ancestry that I had no control over, I have chosen to be a part of a very whitened world. I think that this makes it harder for me to just feel like white people's actions don't also reflect on me. When somebody who is white does something egregiously bigoted in front of me, I just start to feel like other people of color can look at me and say "You chose THESE people to share your life with?!"
I want so badly for white people to be like the ones in my family. I'm not looking for them to never engage in bigoted behavior but can they at least refrain from telling the rest of us that we are imagining things or exaggerating when we point out how their behavior affects us? My partner is great. My mother-in-law is the kind of woman that I'd be friends with even if I'd never have met her son. My sisters-in-law are sweet and caring and wonderful aunts who spoil VanGoghGirl with lots and lots of attention (and presents).
None of them specifically self-identify as feminists, even though I think their actions prove that they are. I think that is part of the reason why it bothers me to no end when other women who do call themselves feminists do things that I could never imagine my loved ones doing. When someone goes beyond that and decides to proclaim to the world that they are a radical feminist, it just seems to me that there's some responsibility that they are supposed to be willing to take for their actions.
I keep hoping for this to be something that radical feminists will do, but it just doesn't happen.