However while radical self transformation is an important step towards anti

However while radical self transformation is an

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However, while radical self-transformation is an important step towards anti-racism, individual changes do not necessarily lead to larger cultural, systemic, and institutional changes. Structures that uphold racism within feminist organizations, including one’s own participation, need to be acknowledged and addressed. Srivastava’s research shows that the negative influence of “white fragility” is especially common and problematic within majority white feminist organizations that are working towards anti-racism. These types of issues prevent white women and women of Color from forming alliances which can be employed to build power and concentrate strength to fight oppression.
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35 In philosopher Shannon Sullivan’s 2012 philoSOPHIA article “On the Need for a New Ethos of White Antiracism” she argues that “white people are part of the problem, not the solution, when it comes to ending white domination” (23). White women may continue to perpetuate racism by attempting to distance themselves from the acknowledgement of their participation and complicity in systems of racism. They may seek out friendships with people of color, believing that they must have nonwhite people’s trust before they can fight white racism. Sullivan argues in Good White People: The Problem with Middle-Class White Anti-Racism (2014) that such distancing strategies serve as an attempt to deny responsibility for white people to do their part to end racism. Instead, she argues that white people need to “get their own houses in order” rather than engaging in what she calls “another harmful manifestation of white people’s toxic quest for racial redemption and freedom from self-hatred through relationships with people of color” (158). This is especially relevant for white women who have been stereotyped within Eurocentric understandings to be more spiritual or more religious or more compassionate and kind than men, and who may get involved with anti-racism looking for redemption for their racism. It makes sense that white women would be drawn to anti-racism when they are socialized to want to be good people, but being a good person has little to do with creating shared power amongst oppressed communities and changing institutions that oppress. Sullivan adds that “People of color don’t need white people to save them, and they don’t need to use up their energy and resources trying to save white people in return” (158). Sullivan offers a strategy to address the problems of whiteness at their core, that is, within white people. She promotes a transformation of whiteness that is nurtured by love and care, a position from where she believes it may even be possible to transform avowed white supremacists away from their hatred and aims of domination and violence. However, while this concept is positioned in
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36 contrast to white-guilt as well as in contrast to a white supremacist conception of love, white anti-racist feminists need to find a way to take action, to harness this energy of love to challenge the structures of white supremacy. These critiques and suggestions are invaluable to white
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  • Summer '19
  • Maria Yvonne Dy
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