An Open Letter to American White Women on Roe v Wade

This Roe v Wade overturning has been long coming and is one domino of many that have already been occurring and will continue to fall. It is a domino in an interlocking system of dominoes.

An Open Letter to American White Women on Roe v Wade

A few thoughts, particularly directed to my liberal White friends, especially the women, who refer to what’s happening in this country as the American Taliban, post Handmaid’s Tale memes, and decry men’s desire to control women’s bodies.

Please learn what intersectionality is and try to apply that lens to what is going on in this country. When you do the above you center your own very limited lens, and you miss the roots of the problem. By doing this, you cannot solve the problem and you continue to be part of the problem.

Here’s what I mean.

This Roe v Wade overturning has been long coming and is one domino of many that have already been occurring and will continue to fall. It is a domino in an interlocking system of dominoes. Some of the previous ones were things like the gutting of the Voting Rights Act that happened a few years back. Remember that one? Maybe you don’t because it affected poor Black and Brown people, but what affects them is coming for you, because that’s how all this works. (And if you know all this, I’m not talking to you.)

What’s happening is about interlocking issues related to White Supremacy, which includes patriarchy, capitalism, ultimately Christofascism. It’s also VERY American. Not an exception or aberration.

Black and Brown people have experienced what is happening in America before. My ancestors did not have bodily autonomy. My great great grandmothers not only experienced forced birth, but had those children forcibly removed, sold, in order to feed the American economy with free labor. That was no Handmaid’s Tale and that was no Taliban. It is as American as Thomas Jefferson who kept his own wife’s half-Black sister as a sex slave, in his beautifully designed Monticello, repeatedly raped her, and enslaved (though eventually freed*) his own children. That shit is evil and inhuman, but we say that the founding fathers were “divinely inspired.” The cognitive dissonance is astounding and appalling. Talk about gaslighting! (If I’ve learned ANYthing from being in academia it is that there are a great many people capable of being extremely intelligent and extraordinarily inhumane. Being brilliant and capable of creating systems of thought or governance doesn’t mean a person is virtuous and venerating head over heart is also an example of White supremacy, but I digress.)

My point being, pointing fingers at other cultures to describe what’s happening here is racist and shows a deep lack of self-awareness. What’s happening here is a continuation of this country’s own evils.

Which is why so many Black, Brown and Indigenous women take offense to the constant Handmaid’s Tale memes. It centers White women’s experience and innocence and obscures the fact that what is happening is not a science fiction future. This is literally the experience of the past, and not so distant past of women of color in this country. Look at the history of Indigenous children in this country and your beloved Canada and see what happened to them to see how incredibly brutal North America can be and has been to women and children. Look at the kids separated from their parents at the border. Look at the imprisonment of a Latina woman here in Texas months ago for losing her child in miscarriage. Look at what happens to women in prison here (many of whom are victims of domestic violence and paying for crimes of their partners or from sexual violence or who were in the foster care system, etc.). Look at what happens to trans women of color or people with disabilities in this country.

Again, this is about White supremacy and the interlocking features of it. How can you tell? When y’all say women need to march … Men need to… who are you talking about? 96% of Black women and 91% of Black men voted for Hilary. We all know why so many white men voted for this, it benefits them. But 47%* of White women voted for this. That’s a whole helluva lot of y’all. Why? Because historically, White women have repeatedly calculated that aligning themselves with White supremacy and patriarchy benefits them and their offspring, who they help raise to benefit from and perpetuate the system as it currently exists.

This couldn’t happen without the active collusion and complicity of White women … many of whom are feminists.

(Look at some of the loudest voices at the Jan. 6 insurrection, for goodness’s sake. Look at who shows up at school boards screaming about their children’s feelings in a public school system that is failing children of color.)

I once had a very close White woman friend who was liberal as they come. Married to a man, she admitted to me that she was just as in love with her maid of honor and could have married her. She had also once sued her employer for sexual harassment, and won.

Yet when it came down to it, she had no problem voting for people who would have curtailed her own rights and those of other people who may have benefited from increasing access to the same rights she has.

She and her family moved to the suburbs, and she became a stay-at home suburban mom. But I was shocked when she told me that she voted for W. When I asked her why, when his platform didn’t align with her values, she literally said that she voted for him because she believed he’d be better for her husband’s job. It was the first time I learned that there were people who believed as I did, but did not vote based on those beliefs, instead choosing very very narrow self-interests. I say people, but I mean White women. They are the only ones in my life who do such a thing.

Later, when I saw an argument ensue on her FB page about Colin Kaepernick that devolved into racist comments about how he should feel lucky to be here and could go back to Africa that she did not stop, I unfriended her.

I have no doubt she is one of the high percentage of WW willing to throw everybody under the bus cause “I got mine, screw everybody else.”

That deeply held sentiment is also a result of the myth of rugged individualism. The belief that we can be self-made is damaging to the reality that no one truly gets anywhere alone and that we need each other. We are interconnected beings, not just as humans, but with the planet that sustains us. Until we can see how very connected and dependent we are on each other, we are doomed, and so is our life on the planet. And it’s this system and soup we live in that keeps us separate that is doing it …why, because it feeds the profit of a few.

So, I am begging White women to start looking around you and SEEING what’s right in front of your face and has been in this country all along. You can’t fight it until you actually see it and can call a thing by its real name. You have to look in the mirror. You have so much more power than you realize. You’re the lynchpin in the system. The system wants more of the babies you birth and raise to perpetuate it. Without you, it unravels.

*This was originally a FB post that used the oft-quoted 53%, which came from exit poll data. More recent research says the number of WW who voted for Trump was closer to 46–47%. So while a large plurality of Black women and other people of color voted for Hilary, the same cannot be said for White women.

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Queer Black feminist writer, mother, and critical org scholar living in and leading from the spaces in between. UT Higher Ed PhD candidate; Equity Within LLC CEO, army brat Texan from Louisiana.