Intersectionality Required

You may have seen this editorial cartoon making the rounds after Hillary Clinton’s historic nomination last week: 2016 cartoon by Kevin Necessary, Scripps Media.

It features three panels, one with a white boy, one with a black boy, and one with a white girl. Each of them say “I could be president,” with the corresponding captions of “since 1789,” “since 2008,” and “since 2016.”

I’m sure this sentiment comes from a good, heartfelt place, and I am not writing this post to harangue or insult Kevin Necessary. What I do want to draw attention to is who is left out of this picture–women of color. While Hillary Clinton’s nomination and (hopeful) election are indeed groundbreaking, historic, and exciting, this cartoon illustrates why many women of color may still feel left out.

This is not to say that there aren’t many, many women of color amongst Clinton’s supporters, because there are. But it’s a familiar sight to see a white woman break through any glass ceiling first, dating back to First Wave Feminism, when white suffragettes kept Black women at the back of their marches and insisted that white women must lead the way in their movement. Black women have had to wait, wait, wait throughout US history. The first Black American to be President is a man. The first women President is white. Black men gain voting rights first. White women gain voting rights first. (And I realize this discussion isn’t even adequately touching on women of other races and ethnicities.)

This is why intersectional feminism is so critical. We must be aware that when we lift up only white women as the vanguard of women’s advancement and equality, we are erasing and ignoring every woman who is not white. And feminism which does not seek to encompass and encourage women of all ethnicities, abilities, sexual orientations, gender identities, (etc) is not a worthwhile feminism. So remember that we need to stop seeing women’s equality as a “white women through the door first” movement. All women have the right to be President, to be treated equally, and to see justice done on their behalf. Period.

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