I’ve been reading the material on black women and white women voters coming out the Alabama Senate race, with some drubbing thrown in for white women along with some very good writing. My problem here is that it’s not enough to think about whiteness as the dividing line–if we do that, we miss how whiteness is working in the 21st century politics and religion in ways that appear to be getting much, much worse.
So that tells a pretty big story, and I’m down with that being the title as long as we get around to some particulars as those particulars are important. This nice piece from Karen Holter in Bustle explains why:
Women can’t make meaningful strides toward equality while the demographic that holds the most societal power plays for the other team. It’s time white women got their houses in order.
And this supportive tweet from Amber Tamblyn:
Nice op-ed, good stories so far, except when I really dig into the “what will reach you part.” I don’t think economic anxiety has much to with anything related to Trump or his cronies. Maybe I’m not wise enough to know what’s really going on, but I do have to repeat what I’ve agreed with earlier: people of color everywhere are poor, and they don’t turn into Nazis into over it. Populism, maybe, but this swastika-revival bullshit is a whites-only club.
The issue I have with stopping there on the verdict with white women is, simply, that I have trouble framing this in a typical white feminist frame–white women only care about freedom for white women, etc. Because these women don’t look like women who are listening to feminists of any ilk:
Um, no; they look like a bunch of Sarah Palins, tho the lady in the red pants suit with her hair set giving the camera a dirty look strikes me as being awesome fun down at the beauty salon dishing on what Marla Sue and Bobby Jim got up to behind the stadium in a pickup at the last football night. They are most likely holding up “why I don’t need feminism” signs on social media.
As many of my friends and students know, I feel like part of my job as a white, feminist educator who studies and teaches on issues of injustice is to do this work of trying to educate other white people about white supremacy. I’m not perfect by a long shot and I have plenty to learn for myself, but it is my goal that absolutely none of my students, no matter what their education level, ever leave a class saying things like “race has nothing to do with cities” and “I just don’t get why Damien Goodmon is always making things about race .” (Damien is a south LA community organizer.)
But this whole “White women have to get these women on board” thing, yeah, I get ya, I just have no freaking clue how to do it, and it’s not because I’m afraid to have the conversation or that I don’t want to. I don’t have any ideas, and the one idea I do have does not seem promising. This is from the WashPo’s exit poll:
I am absolutely ready to believe that there are college-educated, non-evangelical, white women who voted for Moore who might find a way to listen to why Roy Moore and his brand of violent misogyny is bad for everybody, especially black women and men, and even his unfortunate horse, Sassy. (Free Sassy!)
BUT they aren’t a big group here, not given the likely overlap between whiteness and evangelicalism and frankly that has me stumped! Hi, there, ladies of the Southern Baptist Church, my name is Lisa and I have lived most of my life in California and I’m an intersectional feminist atheist who…
Do you think I’d get that far? I don’t. I might as well start with “NaNooo, NaNoo, I am from the Planet Ork.”
This isn’t a “Lookitdem ignnerent Southern women” comment or a “We need to understaaaaand them” comment; all of us formulate our ideas, values, and identities based on our context, families, and relationships, at least in part, in addition to the cultures we consume and media, etc etc. (It’s very hard sorting how much influence any one of these factors has…). I’m just saying that if we could formulate somebody further from their social context than me, I’d have trouble imagining it.
So I guess what I am wondering is: are there feminist Baptist theologians and leaders whom the rest of us could support as a bridge? It’s so far from my field of study that I have no clue, but ideas and suggestions are welcome.