The Very White History of Feminist Organizing


When we’re taught about the history of the feminist movement in the United States, it often highlights icons like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. But the first-wave feminism of the suffragette movement was pretty racist, and willfully ignored and excluded the voices and issues of black women.

This erasure continues today—with white mainstream feminist organizing spaces conveniently and repeatedly leaving out the contributions and leadership of women of color to the feminist movement.

“The way they’re excluded is in terms of leadership, in terms of which communities are organized, in terms of which topics are being organized around, as well as which resources are being allocated to kind of make social change,” explains University of Pennsylvania professor Dr. Salamishah Tillet.

“If you’re talking about gender equality but not talking about racism, you just don’t have effective reform.”

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