I am writing today from Big Timber, Montana, which was built on land inhabited by Niitsítpiis-stahkoii ᖹᐟᒧᐧᐨᑯᐧ ᓴᐦᖾᐟ (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi ᖹᐟᒧᐧᒣᑯ), Apsaalooké (Crow), Cheyenne, and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ peoples.
It’s been a few months since I put a book review up here. First off, I want to acknowledge that many people have had difficulty reading and concentrating in this present moment, including myself. Secondly, in the United States, there were many book lists circulating to add oneself or one’s groups in becoming anti-racist. I believe that work is the primary call for everyone in this present time.
Given the urgency of that work, I would like to add a couple more resources to your readings or media consumption. White Spaces Missing Faces: Why Women of Color Don’t Trust White Women by Catrice Jackson has given me much to think about in considering my own habits, thinking, and way of being in the world. Jackson refers to her style of communication as straight-up, no chaser and she’s not wrong.
Race matters just like gender matters. Imagine if men said, “Well, I don’t see gender; I just SEE you as a human being.” Would you believe it? Or would you say, “Yeah right, you know you see a woman standing before your eyes?” Of course, you would. It’s not acceptable for men to deny they see gender, and then say they are working to create an environment that is gender friendly, gender equal or gender free. Women are still fighting for equality and advancement in predominantly male spaces and rightfully so. There’s no difference between this scenario and when white women make similar statements regarding being color bling and seeing women of color as human beings, different scenario, same harm, oppression and hypocrisy!White Spaces Missing Faces, 8
Jackson’s descriptions of the weapons of whiteness (TM) and the conscious decisions White women make to retain their power and place in society are all neon signs to me. As a White woman in the US right now, waiting for the election and during the confirmation hearings of Judge Amy Coney Barrett, I am seeing every single behavior Jackson describes in her book.
I cannot emphasize enough how many times in the past few election cycles, I have heard and witnessed the grief of Black women and NBIPOC folx in how White women align themselves with White patriarchy in the voting booth, but show tears and faux-solidarity (barely) outside it.
This cannot stand.
This group, RevGalBlogPals, Inc, is an international group, but most of our participants are in the United States. It is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic group, but most of the participants identify as White. It is a brave space for gender minorities who are comfortable in a space centering the experience of women, but most of our participants are women.
In reading Jackson, I cannot ignore the urgency I feel in my own spirit to say to my fellow White US American women, we must do better. And we must do it now. I know you are tired and I know this has been a hell of a year. There will never be a perfect time to combat the systemic racism that is so detrimental to the lives and spirits of women of color. If we don’t figure out intersectionality now and speak to it with everything we have, we are not on the correct side of history in the fight against racism.
If you’ve looked at the reading lists but taken no action, if you feel stalled in your own anti-racist work, if you haven’t known what to do next, I recommend ALL of Catrice Jackson’s work to you. White Spaces Missing Faces is very readable and brief. Reading the book is the work of an afternoon and implementing it is the work of a lifetime.
I recently read The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon. This rom-com novel (with on-the-page sex) underscores how hard Black women work to get ahead and be successful in the tech industry. It’s funny, sexy, and also informative. If you learn well through fiction, or know someone who does, this is a good choice.
Driving the Green Book is a new 10-episode podcast from MacMillan podcasts. It is an excellent story-telling, own voices podcast with Black and African-American people recalling their experiences with using the The Negro Motorist Green Book during the height of segregation in the US. If what you know about this book or this era is mostly from Hollywood, I strongly recommend listening to this podcast and thinking about how the past isn’t really past.
The Reverend Julia Seymour serves Big Timber Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Big Timber, MT. She blogs at lutheranjulia.blogspot.com and readsallthethings.com. She contributed to There’s A Woman in the Pulpit and is President of the board of RevGalBlogPals, Inc.
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