And now blackamazon has quit blogging

// 27 April 2008

Her final post is up at Problem Chylde.

And when you’ve read that, you might want to go and re-read blackfemipower’s final post.

Having Read The Fine Print is now invite only but the angry black woman is still around – as is Peggy McIntosh‘s (who started privilege checklists) original and still-relevant essay White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack

(curtsey to Sadassa)

Later edit: See also this

Comments From You

Helen Gallagher // Posted 27 April 2008 at 8:45 pm

ooook. i’ve clearly missed something here. Why is she so angry?

Helen G // Posted 27 April 2008 at 8:57 pm

There are some links in my previous post which I hope are of some use:

Feminism, racism and bfp

Helen Gallagher // Posted 27 April 2008 at 9:58 pm

ok cheers. I’m not getting involved here because surely as a white woman of supposed privelege my opinion is a bit irrelevant but it’s true that racism against black and aisian people is on totally different levels.

Jennifer-Ruth // Posted 28 April 2008 at 10:05 am

Helen G – thank you so much for following this and providing the links. I think it is really important for anyone who reads the feminist blogosphere to be aware of these events. Hopefully it will open more conversation about privilige between us – and not just about race, but class, sexulaitly, ability and everything. It seems unfortunate to me that we (especially white and straight) feminists can often forget that we benefit from a lot privilges as well as the ones we are denied. So thank you, thank you for bringing this to attention on the F-Word.

Davina // Posted 28 April 2008 at 11:05 am

Helen (Gallagher),

You say your opinion is not relevant – I don’t know why you think being a white woman makes it so? I think at least if you’re not getting involved you can learn about what happened and maybe use it to question your own outlook on life and your ideas about feminism.

One of the great things about feminism is that it is confident enough to question itself (F-Word’s description) and I think we should all contribute to its critique, no matter what race you are or how ‘qualified’ you are – if you feel you don’t know enough, read more blogs/comments/articles/books and then speak up.

As for ‘supposed privilege’, I recommend reading the knapsack essay Helen G linked to. It’s hard to see, and a lot of people, not nearly enough, simply don’t question it or try to learn from other people (not that other people have a duty to teach). Privilge can’t be defined neatly along racial lines either…class/age/place of birth etc. all play into it.

I’m not attacking you, just a bit disheartened that you feel your opinion is irrelevant.

Helen gallagher // Posted 28 April 2008 at 1:19 pm

It’s more that I felt my opinion would be irrelevant to Blackamazon. I also felt i disagreed with a lot of the things she had to say but that perhaps I didnt know enough to contradict her; for example men often tell me that there are no barriers to me finding jobs, but then they don’t experience the subtle pressures women do, even on very basic levels such as agencies constantly pressuring me to take menial administrative jobs despite my qualifications, or my friend who felt very very uncomfortable in the Marine Biology field because of the way her male colleagues treated her, and has gone into education instead as a result. So for all I know blackamazon could be subject to prejudices I am completely unaware of.

I have noticed – mostly at school – that the teachers seem to have different expectations of black and aisian children , and we all know that children live up to your expectations.

I’m not convinced she was plagarised because she was a woman of colour; web plagarism is extremely widespread and it probably just happened because the writer concerned was unoriginal and internalised another person’s superior knowledge. It’s insulting and constitutes intellectual theft but I’m not really sure why it is an issue of race?

Helen Gallagher // Posted 28 April 2008 at 1:27 pm

Yeah that’s why i used the term ‘supposed privelege’ because I think that while I may have the advantages of being a white straight female I don’t have the priveleges of being well connected, rich, having a rich family, coming from the ‘right’ town or living in the capital, but then I did have the advantages of parents who taught me to read etc. I just don’t think being white automatically means a heap of priveleges anymore.

Anne Onne // Posted 28 April 2008 at 2:11 pm

It’s an issue of race because historically, POC have had their ideas and their contributions taken from them uncredited and assimilated, leaving them ignored. It is not because it was internet plagiarism that it is racism, but because it is one more act in a whole history of acts that takes away the voice of POC. It’s the icing on the cake, the continuation of something much older than her or the internet. She wasn’t plagiarised because she was a WOC, but that plagiarism denies her the voice she has fought so hard to have.

I really am mourning the loss of very important, very influential WOC bloggers. It feels selfish that we need them around to help point out this crap when we can’t see it, especially when it hurts them so much to be a part of this. So I wish them (Blackamazon and BFP) the best of luck, and hope that we can learn something from this.

Helen Gallagher, you do have privileges. If you aren’t afraid to go to the police, because you think they might take you seriously, you have white privilege. At work of any sort, being white won’t work against you. People won’t openly fear you, or treat you like a criminal. Yes, there are class factors at play as well, and nothing is simple, but the fact remains that you are more privileged than POC at the same socioeconomic level as you.

As you say, your average man (probably white, but for all I know it may include MOC) would not notice his privilege, or the problems women go through, or what we fear, or why we fear it. That’s his privilege. It’s the same for POC.

Nobody expects you to feel privileged. That’s not what privilege is about. You don’t have to be a well-connected man to be privileged over a woman, and you don’t have to be a rich, elite white woman to be privileged over a POC.

So, every time you think you’re not privileged, or that they are making a deal about nothing, remember how you feel when some guy says he thinks that women already have equality, and how he’s never seen sexual harassment, or sex discrimination and he just doesn’t think it’s that big a deal. It’s easy to be blind to our own privileges, but by remembering what it feels like to be oppressed, we can imagine how we in turn oppress others. Like Davina, I’m not blaming you. You clearly have an interest in these issues, and admit you don’t have much experience in the area. The best option’s to read around. :D

Helen Gallagher // Posted 28 April 2008 at 2:37 pm

It is something i’m still learning about. And I did say “blackamazon could be subject to prejudices I am completely unaware of.”

But I a lot more aware of and knowledgeable about imperialism and feminism and therefore tend to think more in terms of class issues and how women are treated as a whole; I still think an upperclass WOC has more priveleges than a working class Southern Irish Catholic woman for example, who might not even have bodily autonomy.

But i’m happy to learn – just don’t want to agree with something until I’ve learned the facts for myself.

Anne Onne // Posted 28 April 2008 at 2:55 pm

Fair enough. At least you see opionions as provisional until we know more about something.

It’s more problematic when people insist ‘I believe x, so it must be true, because I’ve always believed x!’.

Admitting that factors other than what you are aware of is of course a good start. When there’s so much to learn about an issue, it’s very sensible to reserve judgement.

At the same time, part of being an ally is to believe someone when they recount their experiences, to listen to their voice, and try to draw attention to their experiences. So reading blogs by WOC or with a focus on racism, or how racism and misogyny combine are a good start in looking at different types of privilege.

An upper class WOC may have some advantages over poor white women, but she’ll also have those advantages over poor WOC, and poor men. She’ll have advantages because of social status, but she’ll still have less privilege than white men or MOC in her socioeconomic group. And the number of upper class WOC won’t be as great as white men in the same socioeconomic group, or white women or MOC. It’s complex, because all these things intersect, and pretty much all groups apart from well-off white heterosexual men will be privileged over others in some way, whilst in others being at a disadvantage to others.

Good luck with exploring the issues! :)

Claire // Posted 28 April 2008 at 5:21 pm

I never thought I was particularly privileged as a white woman, certainly not as a woman. But now I’ve read the invisible knapsack essay and have been reading some WOC blogs; the F-Word, plus a chance remark by my boyfriend got me doing it. Lately he’s really into listening to jazz musicians of colour, particularly from the 1930’s/40’s onwards. He said ‘when you think of the way they were treated, the racism they were subjected to, and their work stolen, it’s beyond horrific.’ I knew that, of course (at least!), but it nevertheless gave me a jolt and got me reading more stuff I hadn’t read before.

When I read those WOC blogs it makes me ashamed to realise that I simply did not have and to a great extent still do not have one sodding clue. So many things I wasn’t thinking because I wasn’t thinking!

Thank you, Helen G. And the F-Word.

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