To All My Fellow White Women
By Lizy Rutherford (Design student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
I cried on and off the night of the election. I couldn’t sleep until 4 am, after checking in on my mother, my sisters, my friends, and my boyfriend. I haven’t slept well since that night. In fact, I took the following day off by skipping class and staying in bed. I needed to give myself the space to process and grieve.
Then I got angry.
Of all the women who voted, around 53% of white women voted for Trump. This statistic stuck out to me. I was surprised that less white women voted for a fellow white woman than they did for a white man who bragged about sexually assaulting women. It didn’t take long to realize why, though.
White women collectively chose to invest in whiteness. And I’ve yet to see any white woman calling this out, so that’s why I wrote this.
To all my fellow white women: the moment you chose to invest in your whiteness was the moment you chose to forfeit the wellbeing of your Black, Latinx, Asian, Muslim, and Indigenous neighbors. There are many other things you chose to overlook in his campaign, but I want to focus on race specifically. Whether or not this was said out loud, you all know whiteness is based on being superior to anyone who is not white. You know that whiteness is the foundation of his campaign. It was obviously there at his candidacy announcement, when he called Mexicans rapists and criminals, and that he was going to build a wall around Mexico. The fact that he said that, along with ‘We are going to make America great again’, means he knew you would read between the lines and find the real message: ‘Make America White Again’. And you bought it. And that was only the beginning.
Don’t act like you don’t know. You’ve known the whole time. Own up to it, even if you didn’t like the racism in his campaign and still voted for him. Your vote means you can overlook racism. Think about why you can do that. Reflect on yourself. Think about why you can overlook the fact that he openly bragged about groping women. When he said that, he was talking about YOU. Are you listening?
If you’re feeling buyer’s remorse, embrace it. Educate yourself. Use the Internet and start reading up on the many articles and writings about whiteness. I suggest starting with Robin DiAngelo’s “White Fragility” and Peggy McIntosh’s “White Privilege: Unpacking The Invisible Knapsack”. Listen when people of color talk about their experiences. This is especially important because we don’t have an equivalent experience to systemic racism.
Become active in your community. Start talking to other fellow white women. Call each other out. I know this is hard, but this is also really important. Holding each other accountable means also holding yourself accountable. When you call each other out, be nice and honest. Calling someone out on their hurtful behavior should be an act of love, because you want to see them grow and be better. That’s why I wrote this. I want us to grow and be better. I hope you do, too.