Last week marked the start of Women’s History Month and ever since then, my social media feeds have been littered with uplifting and celebratory hashtags like #WhenWomenWin, #WomenEmpowerment or #ThanksToHer.
While this is a phenomenal effort, I cannot help but feel like there are some big corporations or celebrities that are taking advantage of these hashtags to only promote the empowerment of white women, if any at all.
According to CNN (as of 2020), only 7.4% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies were women and the majority of those women are white. Although these companies have been making great strides towards upping these numbers over the past 20 years, it is simply not enough.
It is difficult to believe billion-dollar organizations that claim to be all for the empowerment of all women when they do not even have a single woman on their executive board, let alone as a CEO. It is time that big names put their money where their mouth is once and for all. As a Black woman, the idea of celebrating women’s history month is paradoxical. Before I am a woman, I am Black and Black women have notoriously been left out of the conversation in regards to female empowerment.
Growing up every history teacher I ever had would swear up and down that Susan B. Anthony was a champion for women’s rights and without her, I would not have the right to vote. Come to find out, Anthony was not the heroic saint she was made out to be.
Anthony’s suffrage movement was completely exclusionary of all women of color. She may have been the white woman’s hero, but she wasn’t mine.
It is a shame I had to learn about Black suffragists like Ida B. Wells and Mary Church Terrell outside of school. Not once were these names uttered while covering the women’s suffrage movement.
Black women and other women of color have always had to forge their own path and diverge from the rest. The only feminist movements I saw growing up were by celebrities that did not look like me. Entertainers like Taylor Swift would claim to be all for female empowerment and sisterhood, but it didn’t take long to realize she was only advocating for white female empowerment.
The majority of feminist ideology that is presented to us through social media does not promote equality between all men and women. Black women are rarely seen being included in the conversation and when we are, we are usually a victim of tokenism and the only Black woman at the table.
While all women are affected by sexism in today’s society, it is imperative that we recognize the additional hardships women of color have to face as well.
More specifically, it is essential that all white women that claim to be feminist recognize the social and economic equity disparities between themselves and Black women. We must come together and rally for one another.
Although there has been an increase in celebrating the Black women making history, we should be celebrated even when we aren’t saving the world. For instance, the entire country now knows who Stacey Abrams is due to her efforts to make Georgia blue, but she was still an extremely noteworthy activist and politician before that. This Women’s History Month make sure that when you celebrate women, you are not just celebrating cis-white women. To leave other races and identities out of the observance would be unacceptable.