by Kefira Baron
I’m not a feminist; I’m an African Internationalist… here’s why:
I can’t recall all the times I’ve been belittled or felt threatened because I am a woman. The times that stand out most are when, as a teenager, I worked at a camera store and customers would dismiss me as being less intelligent, or strange men would solicit me. One man started talking about how I should leave with him and go to Best Buy. It got so bizarre–as if he was trying to kidnap me–my boss intervened and threatened to call the police. Another time, some old white European dude came to buy a camera but was way more interested in buying me, trying to get me to go to Europe and become a model. In recent years, while I was at work, a drunken man lunged at me like he was going to kiss me to make all of his friends laugh. There have been countless variations of blatant inappropriate contact and communication (resulting in near physical altercations).
That is just a short thread of the many instances.
I have also been in situations where I have had to deal with police. As a teenager, my friends and I got pulled over for doing some suspicious crap and because I knew the cop, he let us go (it later turned out the cop was a pedophile, but that’s another story). Or the time I was in a car accident and found out I actually had a suspended license and was let go. Had I not been white, I certainly would have been handcuffed and taken to jail. I would still have something on my record. So the primary distinction is that my whiteness provided I was not arrested; being white played a fundamental role in how the State treated me.
As a white woman in this society I have certainly been angered and hurt by mistreatment, but also as a white woman, I’m provided social wealth and opportunities to overcome those obstacles, step a little bit higher on the pedestal created by colonialism and walk over African and Indigenous women who will continue to face brutal oppression at the hands of the police and other institutions of the State. These mothers have their children forcibly taken away, kidnapped from them, and pushed into the foster care system. Or if these women wind up in jail, they can be forcibly sterilized by the State. African and Indigenous trans-women are often denied their identities and forced into cells according to their assigned gender roles.
The reason they are put in jail is because they are part of a colonized population. Meanwhile, colonialism will find a way to accept white women onto the pedestal in the efforts to further tighten its grip. This can be seen in the efforts to elect Hillary Clinton. I have no interest in being equal to a white male colonizer; I have no interest in a share of the stolen loot. If we want to see an end to the oppression, we need to attack colonialism and imperialism, which will try to bring us closer into its clutches as it continues to bomb African, Indigenous, Arab, and other oppressed peoples. We owe reparations because we helped sustain the violence that put this system into place. White women played a huge role in the history of slavery and lynching and we need to recognize that history. Therefore, I don’t focus on my gender as woman as a means to challenge this social system, but recognize my whiteness as the reason I experience reality the way I do. I must focus on that identity as a means to win any white person–cis, trans, SGL, non-binary, etc.–to be in solidarity with African and Indigenous people fighting for liberation because that is the genuine way to end oppression.
USM member Kefira Baron, based in Ft. Lauderdale, explains why she is not a feminist, but an African Internationalist. Historically, we white women have viciously fought for our rights at the expense of African people, especially African women. As white women, if we truly want to end oppression based on gender then we need to fight against colonialism; the cause of all forms of oppression. We must unite with African people’s struggle for liberation and self-determination by paying reparations! The USM 2017 National Convention will be holding a workshop to discuss why it is in the interests of white women to stand in material solidarity with African people. This is a chance for white women to get on the forward side of history and align ourselves with the rising African working class. Come to our National Convention on April 1st & 2nd in St. Petersburg, FL and register today at usm2017.eventbrite.com!