Reported by April Taylor
Chesya Burke is an author who was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky. She has been widely recognized for her critical analysis of race and gender issues in her works, Race and The Walking Dead and Super Duper Sëxual Spiritual Black Woman: The New and Improved Magical Negro. She also published Let’s Play White, which received praise from acclaimed poet Nikki Giovanni who compared Burke’s work to that of Toni Morrison and Octavia Butler. Burke is currently living in Atlanta and working on her Master’s degree in African-American Studies at Georgia State University.
She recently wrote a piece for ForHarriet.com titled “Dear White Women: For Whom My Pain Is Invisible.” In the piece, she discusses her cyber-relationship with a woman who has responded to her posts about white feminist’s critique of Michelle Obama. She points out how white privilege blinds the woman to her own pain as a black woman.
Below is an excerpt from the piece:
You reply and preface your statement with a comment about your Native American ancestry to, I suppose, establish your non-White authority – which only adds to your White authority, so you have all bases covered now. You disagree with the author stating that White women have been in a power struggle with White men, because you say White women rank ‘below’ all men and then you go on to boil the conversation down to ‘feminist bickering.’
You are, you admit, ‘ignorant’ of feminism, but you are adamant that until men treat all women as equals nothing will change…
You respond a few times, mostly stating that ‘the fight shouldn’t be against other women.’ In other words Black women you should start fighting the real enemy: men, not White women…You see, when suggesting that groups get along to oppose only the most dominate group, the minority group’s voice is always drowned out. Their priories are ignored. Minority women know this because they have been asked to do this too often in the past.
Someone expresses the frustration that your ideology is part of the problem and you get indignant, angry…It’s about your feelings, your hurt at seeing the White women diminished, your pain at being associated with those oppressive White women, despite your Native roots that you so desperately cling to…
I quickly explain the history of feminism to you…I do the heavy lifting for you, which I have often done. I say:’White feminists have always asked Black and other minority women to ‘stop fighting against them,’ or to toe the line. Of course we should all just be fighting against misogyny. Let’s just ignore racism…let’s just ignore racism that White women themselves often perpetuate against minority women.
You get it. For a moment.
…you believe that I have committed and ecological fallacy ever time I call Whites racist simply because they are White, not understanding that I see racism as a system. That I, unlike you, have studied this. I’ve lived it. That I understand that although individuals can be racist, it is the systemic structures of racism that oppress groups of people. Systems…such as feminism, which has too often ignored and even endorsed racism against Black women and minority peoples…
You get angry. You unfriend me…You call yourself a ‘cracker’ to gain sympathy, although that’s a term I never used…you invoke the equivalent of online White women’s tears. Your tears, you believe, are true. They are clear, pure, genuine.
Mine do not exist.
You get your sympathy. The White men (and women) come to comfort you. Of course in comforting you, they disparage me. There cannot be one without the other…
In the mist of it all the message is lost. The sisterhood that you sought is quickly thrown aside in favor of that familiar connection with the dominate status quo. My behavior, you believe, is representative of my hypocrisy. I didn’t toe the line because I had my own thoughts and ideas that did not fit in line with yours. That makes me a hypocrite.
To you your anger is justified. Mine does not exist.
…My pain you see is invisible.
As Black feminism continues to expand and develop, many theories have circulated as to how and why Black women became interested in what began as a part of the White liberal agenda. Some even speculate that Gloria Steinem, the matriarch of the feminist movement, was a member of the CIA and spearheaded and infused the feminist movement within American culture to dismantle the traditional family structure and turn Black women against Black men.