However, while radical self-transformation is an important step towards anti-racism, individualchanges do not necessarily lead to larger cultural, systemic, and institutional changes. Structures that uphold racism within feminist organizations, including one’sown participation, need to beacknowledged and addressed. Srivastava’sresearch shows that the negative influence of “whitefragility”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’s2012 philoSOPHIA article “Onthe Need for a New Ethos of White Antiracism”she argues that “whitepeople are part of the problem, not thesolution, 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’strust 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 peopleto do their part to end racism. Instead, she argues that white people need to “gettheir own houses in order”rather than engaging in what she calls “anotherharmful manifestation of …whitepeople’stoxic 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 morecompassionate 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-racismwhen 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 “Peopleof color don’tneed white people to save them, and they don’tneed 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 fromwhere she believes it may even be possible to transform avowed white supremacists away fromtheir hatred and aims of domination and violence. However, while this concept is positioned in
36 contrast to white-guilt as well as in contrast to a white supremacist conception of love, whiteanti-racist feminists need to find a way to take action, to harness this energy of love to challengethe structures of white supremacy. These critiques and suggestions are invaluable to white