Why A Canadian Judge’s Ruling About Dogs Is A Statement About Non-traditional Families

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Sometimes the family you make yourself is the only family you’ve got. Allowing the state to dictate that is divisive and cruel. 

In an unusual Canadian divorce case, a Sasketoon judge ruled in late December that a couple’s dog custody dispute was a “wasteful” and “demeaning” use of court time.

I could write for hours critiquing this judge’s insensitive 15-page decision. But let’s just take a handful of quotes from the piece to explain why his decision demonstrates violent bigotry against non-traditional families[CW: speciesism, heterosexism, classism, ableism]:

  1. “In Canada, we tend not to purchase our children from breeders.”
    Actually, humans pay people for sperm, embryos, and uteruses all the time. Just because we call them fertility clinics and wrap up these costs into the services they provide doesn’t mean they do not serve the same purpose as breeders. And adoption costs a lot of money too. So a variety of circumstances occur in which we functionally purchase human children.
  2. “We tend not to breed our children with other humans to ensure good bloodlines, nor do we charge for such services.”
    We tend to do exactly that. It’s called the aristocracy. Also, per above, fertility clinic much???
  3. “When our children are seriously ill, we generally do not engage in an economic cost/benefit analysis to see whether the children are to receive medical treatment, receive nothing or even have their lives ended to prevent suffering.”
    Governments and corporations undertake a cost/benefit analysis every time they make legal changes pertaining to healthcare.
  4. “When our children act improperly, even seriously and violently so, we generally do not muzzle them or even put them to death for repeated transgressions.”
    Perhaps Canadians don’t physically place a muzzle on children, but child protection statistics contain a laundry list of abuses we subject children to in the name of discipline up to and including execution. Also muzzling humans as a form of torture and abuse is not without precedent in western society.
  5. “He said that should be obvious to all based on a bit of logical, dispassionate thought.”
    The notion that the United States’ neighbors to the north represent an inherently progressive population is becoming increasingly overblown. Why do ‘pale, stale males’ still imagine that their thoughts to be the product of logical, dispassionate discourse when they’re only a single limited perspective to consider?
  6. “Danyliuk said given dogs are property and not family, it would be absurd for him to make a ruling about visitation rights.”
    Cis white men have attempted to define what constitutes my family for far too long. Radical concepts of family have existed for centuries outside of what ‘the law’ narrowly calls a family. And this is the crux of why his circular logic presents an act of violence.
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Mothers nursing children not belonging to them is often dismissed as a biological imperative unless you’re human (and even then, not always).

Mothers nursing children of different species is often dismissed as a biological imperative rather than an act of parenting. Only humans get the benefit of the doubt, and even then not all of us.

How many black families have been cobbled together with non-blood relatives? The lifelong friends we claim as cousins because we were raised together? The women we exalt as Auntie because they were always there to feed and clothe us absent a biological parent or guardian (or in collaboration with one because intergenerational poverty makes us responsible for one another) ?

How many queer families have adopted one another because we were rejected by bigoted parents and guardians? How many queer couples have been denied the right to execute their partner’s affairs? How many people are routinely denied medical care because they don’t meet the strict definition of a dependent in the healthcare industrial complex? Be they best friend, grandmother, or nephew. Are these intimate relationships invalid because the state deems them unworthy of protection?

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Mr.G [right suffered from severe depression until he was reunited with his companion Jellybean [left].
One could argue that the common denominator in all these circumstances is our humanity. But interspecies relationships are not uncommon, nor are they limited to humans. And by every meaningful metric, other species are persons. Judge Danyliuk would be wise to consider this evidence. And we would be wise to take note of how the establishment historically acted to diminish our individuality through the rule of law.

And for what it’s worth, none of the judge’s explanations for why animal companions should not be considered family are even valid reasons why we should be doing any of those things anyway, to humans or anyone else.

The bottom line is that we should be expanding our understanding of family, not restricting it.

Kat Von D Illustrates the Dangers of Neoliberal Whiteness in Veganism

Celebrity vegan Kat Von D became a bit of an anti-racist hero when she outed former friend Jeffree Star for his racist comments. And her actions were 100% commendable. But here’s the thing about anti-racist work. It’s not a once-and-done business. We constantly have to be aware of what it means to fight institutional bigotry. And when an Instagram follower challenged Kat on perpetuating anti-black racism herself, accountability sailed clean out the window.

To briefly summarize the exchange, Von D posted a photo on her Instagram of her makeup team that featured a variety of white faces. [click on the image to read the full messy exchange]

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And one of her followers gently called her in by explaining that dark-skinned femmes were not represented.

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But instead of internalizing her follower’s words, Von D performed the mother of all tap dances and called on anti-black racism’s greatest hits.

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Judging by this comment, Kat doesn’t understand how her version of diversity doesn’t include black and brown faces, just different variations on white women. Much more troubling, she conflates race with nationality because American, Canadian, Dutch, Mexican, Australian, and Argentinian are NOT RACES. But then her next comment gets even worse.

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The reasons why colorblind ideology only reinforces racial inequality have been written about to death. Furthermore, she claims not to hire based on race. But statistically, hiring based on race is a time-honored tradition in our society. Otherwise, we’re just left to believe that unemployment rates for black people are double the rates of white people in the United States because that’s a weird quirky thing that mysteriously happens and that’s just the way it is.

The reason why this is relevant to our veganism is because we should be proceed cautiously when choosing our vegan heroes and heroines, and we should hold them accountable when they fail to act responsibly. When popular vegans perpetuate anti-blackness, they create more opportunities for potential black and brown allies to dismiss animal justice as a movement they want no parts of. Is that fair to animals? Obviously not. But that’s the reality of the world we live in. And I’d much rather cultivate a movement that fosters inclusivity instead of ignorance.

Kat Von D has a remarkable opportunity to support black femmes and pique their interest in veganism and animal liberation. I don’t want her to go away. I just want her to use that opportunity instead of just exploiting black femmes by profiting from their dollars.

The 2016 Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown – A Magnificent Spectacle

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It’s taken a few months for me to fully process the 2016 Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown and be able to put it all down on paper – from the good and the really good to the bad and the really bad. At the moment of its inception, the members of both the PEP Foods collective and Baltimore Vegan Drinks knew instinctively that this event had massive potential. I remember getting goosebumps on my arms as we discussed the possibility – the audacity, really – of planning a large-scale vegan mac ‘n cheese competition in Baltimore City. For me, the thought of an event like this one was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying – I knew it had a chance to be a smashing success but couldn’t help but entertain thoughts of it being a miserable failure. As is often the case in life, Baltimore’s 1st Annual Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown was a little bit of both.

We started with an organizing Dream Team. Between the members of the PEP Foods Collective and Baltimore Vegan Drinks, we were working with so much event planning experience that there was a less than 0% chance that the Smackdown would be poorly organized. We each had our own distinct areas of expertise. Whether it was social media promotion, logistics, budgeting, public relations etc., we had someone on our team who kicked ass in that area. And even though this was the first time PEP Foods and Baltimore Vegan Drinks had ever collaborated on anything, we worked as if we’d been organizing events together for years. It would in no way be an exaggeration to say that the organizing phase of the Smackdown was near flawless.

The moment we announced the event, it gained immediate traction and folks started pre-registering both as chefs and attendees. The excitement was palpable and as organizers we found ourselves working around the clock to keep up with all the inquiries we were getting from people who were interested in the event. Between the comments and questions on the Facebook page, the emails to the PEP Foods and Baltimore Vegan drinks websites and the regular phone calls, it was quite a challenge to keep up. Add to that all the supply procurement, food and drink purchasing, media outreach, marketing and promotion, volunteer and chef coordination, regular communication with the health department, fire department and various other event planning minutiae and our organizing Dream Team had our work cut out for us!

Not long after we had signed the contract with the event venue, it started to become apparent from the large number of pre-registrations that there was a chance that the Smackdown could outgrow the venue. There were no guarantees, of course, that the numbers would actually exceed the capacity of the space, but it was getting close enough for us to be concerned. Of course, there wasn’t a whole lot we could do about it at that point – the capacity of the space was 600 people, the pre-registrations had gotten up to 400 a week before the event, and although there was the possibility that we would get more than 200 walk-up attendees, there was just no way to know for certain and so we proceeded with our organizing efforts keeping our fingers crossed that the numbers would just work themselves out. The numbers did not just work themselves out.

Volunteers

On the afternoon of the Smackdown, our 30 chef participants were set up and ready to sample their vegan mac ‘n cheeses, our dozen or so volunteers were at their various stations, our judges had taken their positions at the judges’ table, our MC was at the microphone and we were ready to start the event. Oh, and there were hundreds of people standing outside the door in a line that stretched two city blocks. I think even as attendees moved through the line and began rapidly filling the venue, each of the organizers – myself included – was so engaged in managing whichever aspect of the Smackdown to which we were assigned that it didn’t initially sink in how massive the event was becoming. I, for one, was so hyper-focused on providing for the chefs’ various supply needs that I didn’t realize how packed the room had gotten until I was swallowed up in the crowd and literally couldn’t move through it. By then, of course, the wheels were already in motion and the Smackdown train wasn’t about to be stopped.

We estimate that over one thousand people showed up to the event.

To a vegan mac ‘n cheese competition.

In Baltimore City.

That actually happened.

 

TheLine

As confident as all the organizers had been that our event was going to be a success, none of us could have imagined that a thousand people would line up outside those doors. We were more than prepared to accommodate 500 or even 600 people. But a thousand? Nuh-uh. And so the venue was packed beyond capacity, the lines to sample mac ‘n cheese were chaotic, participants were hot and irritated – with the occasional thumbs up and, “Wow, this is awesome, great event guys!” thrown in – and the organizers and volunteers spent almost the entire time in a perpetual state of scrambling to keep up with the pace of the event. The Dream Team had been bested by our own success.

On the upside, the attendees seemed to really enjoy sampling all the delicious variations of vegan mac ‘n cheese our chefs had cooked up. Even though the lines to get samples were long and excruciatingly slow, people appeared to be very engaged with the chefs, asking questions and giving feedback as they made their winding way around the room. When all was said and done the chefs had a blast and we actually got quite a bit of positive feedback and helpful constructive criticism from the attendees. Of course, there was plenty of not-so-helpful – and quite frankly vicious – criticism from those who were appalled that they should have had to wait in line (some of them for up to 45 minutes!) to engage in their God-given right to sample copious amounts of vegan mac ‘n cheese. But you know what they say: You can please all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all of the time …

Vegan Refocused       Chef Green

Of all of the lessons we learned from the magnificent spectacle that was the 2016 Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown, one of our biggest faux pas that I still regret to this day is that we didn’t send a volunteer outside with a clipboard to check off the pre-registered attendees and expedite their entry into the event. Honestly, I’m convinced that had I been stationed at the entrance it would have occurred to me pretty early on that it was unfair for people who’d pre-registered and paid ahead of time to have to stand in the same long line as those who’d just walked up off the street. Alas, no one thought of doing this simple thing that probably would have stemmed the flood of negative backlash we got from some of the people who attended the Smackdown. But you live and you learn, and we certainly learned a lot from this event!

As for the 2017 Vegan Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown, the Dream Team will be coming back together in the very near future to start planning for an even bigger event – this time with full knowledge that Baltimore City is ready, willing and able to throw down on all the hot, gooey mac ‘n cheesy goodness we can throw at them – and this time we’ll be ready to put on a truly spectacular event! Until then, may we all strive to make kinder, more sustainable choices that benefit our health, the Earth and all those with whom we share this beautiful planet!

 

#LetsGoVegan

Brenda Sanders Joins the Striving with Systems Collaborator Crew

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All of us at Striving with Systems are overjoyed to announce that Brenda Sanders, a tireless vegan community activist in Baltimore City, Maryland, has joined us as a collaborator!

Brenda Sanders serves as Executive Director of Better Health, Better Life, a public health organization, and is Co-Director of Open the Cages Alliance, an animal advocacy organization in Baltimore, MD. Through Better Health, Better Life, Brenda runs the Eating for Life program, a series of free workshops aimed at teaching people in low-income communities how to prepare healthy vegan food. With Open the Cages Alliance, she co-organizes the Vegan Living Program, a six-week education program that teaches the basics of transitioning to the vegan lifestyle. Brenda is also co-creator of Vegan SoulFest, an annual festival that celebrates culture and the vegan lifestyle, and she’s a founding member of PEP Foods, a collective of food justice activists and business owners whose goal is to bring affordable vegan food to low-income communities in Baltimore City.

Aph is launching “Black Vegans Rock” in January!

(Originally posted on Aphro-ism)

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Logo designed by Eastrand Studios

I am super excited to announce that I am launching a new project in January called “Black Vegans Rock” which will spotlight black vegans who are doing incredible work everyday.

As you might know, I created a list that spotlighted 100 Black Vegans back in June titled #BlackVegansRock: 100 Black Vegans to Check Out.” To this day, I am receiving emails from black folks who are wondering how they can get featured on this list.

Rather than adding names on, I decided to create a new digital platform where I can spotlight individuals and their work every single day. A Well-Fed World has provided me with a grant to get this digital project off the ground, though I am still looking for financial donations to help sustain the site.

The goal of the website is to change the mainstream narrative surrounding veganism.

Rather than pointing out how other vegan organizations aren’t inclusive, or don’t incorporate intersectional thought into their campaigns, I’m going to create a new space that privileges intersectional thought, and spotlights black people everyday.

The goal is to: stop deconstructing white uncritical spaces, and start (re)constructing more black progressive spaces.

Black folks are regularly overlooked in the mainstream vegan movement. Most of the famous theorists, authors, and activists are white people. Most of the largest platforms for activism are created by white people, which silences grassroots voices. This representation distorts the reality of the vegan landscape which is actually diverse. There are so many black vegans who are doing work that matters, so I’m going to cater specifically to black vegans with this project. In an era of Black Lives Matter, I think it’s important that we celebrate black vegans who are doing incredible work.

We are such a diverse community, so the advisory board reflects that diversity.

The Advisory Board is comprised of:

Tracye McQuirter, MPH (By Any Greens Necessary)

Dr. Amie Breeze Harper (Sistah Vegan Project and Critical Diversity Solutions)

Kevin Tillman (Vegan Hip-Hop Movement)

Pax Ahimsa Gethen (Funcrunch Files)

Christopher Sebastian McJetters (Vegan Publishers and Striving with Systems)

Syl Ko (Aphro-ism)

Dr. Milton Mills (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

Stephanie Redcross (Vegan Mainstream)

Demetrius Bagley (Vegucated)

If you are a black vegan and you want your restaurant, book, project, website, lecture, or any other awesome project to be featured on the site, or if you know of any black vegans who should be spotlighted, send an email to:

blackvegansrock@gmail.com

In your submission provide us with your:

1. Name

2. 500 word description of what you’re submitting

3. A High-Definition Photo or Video

4. All links to relevant social media pages and features on other sites that reflect how awesome your project is

*we ask that all submission materials be suitable for all audiences

*the submission email will soon change to submissions@blackvegansrock.com but it’s not set up yet

You can help me out by sharing this digital poster on all of your social media pages right now. Hopefully black vegans will find it and submit their information for a feature 🙂

Are you a black vegan who is looking to get your work %22out there?%22

If you would like to help out by giving a financial donation to Black Vegans Rock, or if you want to help us spread the word about our organization, send an email to aphkoproductions@gmail.com.

Make sure you “LIKE” the Black Vegans Rock Facebook Page as well as the Twitter page. We will start populating it in January.

#blackvegansrock

Aph’s Guide to the Revolutionary, Decolonizing Praxis of “Moving Over”

[This post was originally published at Aphro-ism]

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I was recently quoted in a Mic.com piece about white feminism. The fascination with the term “white feminism” has happened, in large part, because white folks are not regularly racialized. Racialization normally happens to people like me, so of course, white women are now trying to grapple with it. Since they have access to a global stage, all of us are unfortunately forced to talk about it as well. In the article, I said, “I don’t think we can make white mainstream feminism inclusive because it’s not designed to be inclusive…Our exclusion as women of color isn’t accidental. Diversity can’t help White feminism. [White feminists] just need to move over.”

In other words, in order for folks of color to move forward, we need privileged folks to move over.

I’ve come to a realization after being an activist for almost 10 years that white people are severely misguided when it comes to what their role is in social justice activism.

White people in the U.S. are obsessed with activism and how they fit into social justice movements. Whether it’s “checking their privileges” or “becoming more intersectional” (whatever that means), activism has almost become a sort of racial identity for white folks who, for generations, haven’t been able to articulate what it means to be white.

Since whiteness has pretty much been a vacuous space surrounded by a vast landscape of absence and emptiness, white folks all throughout history have tried to fill that void by stealing other cultures, stealing musical traditions and styles, stealing experiences, and now, even stealing theories and perspectives written by and for folks of color. I don’t know…maybe it makes them feel alive or something to constantly align themselves with struggles that they have, in large part, caused.

Though Gazi Kodzo was specifically talking about white women in this video, I think it’s safe to say that white people are the “xerox machines of the world.”

The obsession white folks have with intersectionality feels like a comedy movie mixed with a twilight zone episode where they don’t realize how they are centering themselves in movements that are specifically designed to de-center whiteness.

However, I suggest that one way they can help is by: moving over.

Now, moving over might seem dismissive and rude, but, I’m here to tell you that moving over as a white person is actually one of the most revolutionary things you can do today in a white supremacist patriarchy.

1.Stop Trying to Lead Movements That Are Designed to De-Center People Like You:

I love that Martin Luther King, Jr. quote where he says, “Silence is acquiescence”; however, I highly doubt he was saying that white activists should create a global stage to whine about how privileged they are. Sometimes, silence can be revolutionary, especially if you’re a white person who wants to learn about social justice.

The idea that white people can “check” their privileges is a colossal joke. Do I think white people (as an oppressive class) can change? Yes. Do I think they want to give up white supremacy as an oppressive system? Hell no.

Honestly, white people (yes white women, that includes you too) have pretty much ruined every single social justice movement because they want to be the leaders.

After white folks take over movements that aren’t designed for them, they enter into a space of confusion asking, “Why aren’t our movements intersectional or diverse?” They usually end up getting depressed and start bothering black and brown folks, asking us what they can do to be more “inclusive” meaning: how in the hell do I get some negroes up in my organization? How do I look like I give a shit about you and your struggles?

Liberal white people in activist spaces are basically “New Whites” to me. We’ve all heard of New Blacks, but what are New Whites?

Birth of the “New Whites”:

New Whites are basically the white people who have tattoos, probably play guitar or some “exotic” thing like a sitar, own a bike, have black friends, know the language of the movement, yet resemble oppressive white people of past generations because they want their voices to be louder than everyone else. They always want to create something or be the leader of “progressive” organizations, magazines, websites, etc. They do this under the guise of using their white privilege to bring attention to folks of color.

New Whites are kind of like the tripped-out, guitar-playing grandchildren of KKK members who are getting high on the sheets their families wore to burn black people in.

What’s horrible about the New Whites is that they seriously have no clue how they perpetuate white supremacy (they’re actually not all that invested in learning about it either) but they want to keep organizing and pointing out how “other” white people are fucking up.

As I always say, white folks with tattoos and a hipster aesthetic scare me more than white folks in white sheets. Sure, you might not want to lynch a black person, or light a cross in their front yard, but your willingness to carry on the torch of white supremacy through leadership, visibility, and power is just as threatening and destructive.

New Whites are folks who are not like their post-racial parents. They “see” race (not trying to be ableist here—trying to reference post-racial ‘color-blindness’), they might even be in relationships with people of color or have brown family members, they follow all the latest black blogs and they re-post work by people of color on their websites. They talk about people like Dr. Breeze Harper any chance they get (because that’s the only black vegan feminist they know).

New whites are post-post-racial. Get it? They love the idea of checking their privileges, and they would run in front of a bus to proclaim their love for intersectionality.

New Whites quote brown folks in their articles but have never grappled with why the brown folks they quote and associate themselves with always get less attention for their own activism.

New Whites assume their voices are the vehicles that are needed to make black and brown voices heard. They have “no clue” why they get so much attention for their activism or why people regard them as “experts” so they chalk it up to their creativity and brilliance.

Always be suspicious of someone who admits to not knowing much about a movement, but what’s to be the leader of it. #shady

2.Stop Trying to Build an Audience

I get it—sometimes you just want to create a website because you feel like your voice isn’t being heard, or that a perspective that you just thought of last night hasn’t been said at all in the movement. Never mind the fact that you’ve never checked to see if someone else has already said what you’re about to say. Never mind the fact that a person of color may have been writing about the same topic for years. They don’t count-right?

White people have a colonialist reflex to lead and to “fill in the gaps” when the gaps have already been filled by people of color they don’t even know exist.

Yeah…this happens all of the time. White folks create digital platforms or magazines that basically rely on perspectives and theories created by and for people of color. Then, they try to recruit brown people to write a guest article (of course it will be unpaid!) just to reassure themselves that they’re going in the right direction. “Okay, black people are participating…I must be doing something right!”

Moving over sounds super harsh and cruel, but when you think about it, it’s actually pretty revolutionary.

If you’re a white person and you’re THAT obsessed with intersectionality, then perhaps you should move over because there are probably 10 other people of color writing about it in better ways who aren’t getting the same attention you are, so you might actually be blocking the progress that you claim to be advocating for.

Your activism is meaningless if you don’t seriously grapple with the reality that your actual presence in the space is destructive.

If you’re trying to be a better social justice advocate, but you need a facebook following and tons of twitter fans in order to do the work, then you might need to see if your allegiance is to social justice, or to yourself.

This doesn’t mean that you can’t still write articles and engage people with your ideas. Just make sure that you’re not talking over folks of color, or getting attention for theories and thoughts that you know you didn’t create.

Make sure you’re not getting financial donations or grants for creating “intersectional” work if you’re a white person. Try to find a different way to make yourself useful. Maybe you can start raising money for some of your favorite activists of color because hell, it’s never too late for some reparations, and if we’re being honest, you’re getting money for essentially re-stating what people of color have been saying forever.

3.Stop Trying to Get Minoritized People to Join Your Organizations

I can’t tell you how many white people (in the past two weeks) have contacted me and asked me to join their organizations, or asked for a random statement of support from my skin color me, or asked me to write a guest post for their website for free.

When you ask a person of color to contribute anything that’s actually going to help your image of looking “diverse” or “progressive”, you’re centering yourself again. You see, power is insidious. You might not even know it’s happening, especially if you’re a New White. You might actually convince yourself that you only want to prop up and amplify these voices from people of color because they live in a world where they won’t be recognized for their brilliance.

However, if you want to prop up my voice but your name has to be attached, then you might need to sip on your white juice detox a little harder

Folks like me (you know, people of color) are pretty smart—it’s just that we live in a society where our voices will never get us the same amount of traction as a white person or man. Knowing this reality, I have no clue why you would ask me to join your space or ask me to contribute something on your site! It means that you should support my site, tell all of your fans and followers to support activists of color every chance you get, or, if you want to be really bold, delete your pages that are basically regurgitating everything brown people are saying.

Part of the reason why people aren’t checking out work created by ground-breaking activists of color is because they’re busy checking out your work simply because your whiteness marks you as an “expert.”

Moving over IS work because you will be confronting the colonized parts of yourself that want to lead the movements.

4.Reflect on why you might cringe when you think about not being in the activist spotlight:

This one is key. Oftentimes, when you’re colonized, you might not know that you’re acting within the interests of yourself and white supremacy. This is why a lot of minoritized folks will never trust privileged folks, no matter how close our friendships might be. If your automatic reflex is to lead, create social media platforms, and create organizations where you’re positioned at the top, you might have to ask yourself: does the activist community actually need my voice?

This is especially true for white women who can so easily pinpoint white male violence, but struggle in understanding how they too perpetuate violence. White women have inherited the label of “oppressed” simply because they’re women, but they don’t want to talk about the ways they have also inherited white privilege.

So, think really hard: does the community actually need your voice, or are there more minoritized people who are basically saying the same things as you who aren’t getting as much traction because they’re brown, and well, you’re white?

For example, you might be a white woman who experiences gender-based oppression. But, don’t women of color experience that too, in addition to racialized gender oppression? Do you really think you’re going to say something that she’s not going to cover? Mia McKenzie writes:

“Women of color feminisms being inherently more complex, and therefore more useful to feminist goals, means that when women of color fight patriarchy, in all the ways that we do, white women also benefit. White supremacy puts white women higher up on the ladder of privilege. So, whatever rights women of color get, white women get times a hundred.”

If, as a white woman, you really think you’re going to contribute a different perspective, cool. You should share it—but don’t do it because you want an audience or traction. Do it so that you’re actually contributing to the overall literature that’s already out there. If you find that you’re struggling to say something new, question why you feel a compulsion to even put anything out there!

You see, moving over as a privileged person actually makes the space a bit more safe and diverse, simply because you’ve left. You get how that works? You literally get out of the space and stop inserting your opinions.

The hardest part of activism is learning how you should act based upon your social location in the system.

Your activism has to match who you are—so, if you’re a part of the dominant group and you get benefits from the system, you might need to be an activist by learning to be quiet. Rather than checking your privileges loudly in a space, the real activism might be learning to take a back seat and checking your colonialist reflex to dominate every conversation. Conversely, if you’re a person of color and you’re used to being silent, part of your activism might be learning how to speak up and unapologetically claim space.

Get it?

Activism is hard because you sometimes have to do and say things that conflict with how you’ve been colonized to feel. Moving over as a white person is difficult because you’ve been colonized to want to lead the movement and recognizing THAT conflict within yourself is exactly where more white people’s activism should be.

Confronting your colonized self will help more people of color than leading our movements.

5.Imagine What Activist Spaces Would Look Like If More White People Moved Over:

Afropunk, For Harriet, Black Girl Dangerous, Crunk Feminist Collective, Aphro-ism, Sistah Vegan Project, Racialicious, Fusion, etc.

Have you noticed that some of the most ground-breaking work is done by folks of color?

If the “new whites” who claim to care so much about intersectionality, privilege, and oppression actually cared about these topics, they would do anything in their power to make sure that that oppressed folks get what they need. If we are asking you to move over, and you refuse to do that, you might need to question if you’re really invested in “the struggle.”

The reason why radical black and brown spaces are so powerful is because white folks aren’t bringing these spaces down. They are not centered. This means that they can still participate, but they are not leading the movement.

Minoritized people are actually able to engage in movement building because they can finally put the focus on the groups that need the help, rather than white folks. There’s nothing more privileged than being a member of a dominant group and taking up social justice space to understand how you are privileged.

So, instead of having to take time to answer questions like, “how can we make white spaces more inclusive?” we can actually make intersectional, diverse spaces with people of color.

While people of color certainly are not a monolith, and while we may disagree on multiple subjects, we are at least able to grapple with topics in a way that feels as though we’re speaking to one another—not just white folks.

The thing is, the mainstream will automatically be more diverse and intersectional when white people realize that they are stopping the progress, regardless of how radical or progressive they claim to be.

I’m concluding with a super powerful quote from an amazing essay on the Struggling To Be Heard Tumblr page:

“When you’re white saying your an intersectional feminist, you are wrong. you are the white boy singing sad songs to a blues twang claiming to be a Blues artist… it is erasure, it is warping, it is the continual narrative of whiteness as a dominant force, in opposing the creators and destroying the creators while then attempting to re-create those creations with whiteness firmly installed inside of it. which is false, warped, fake and without heart and soul. it is a lifeless imitation. and mostly, it isn’t REAL.”