Clearly the ways in which white women work towards anti racism needs to be

Clearly the ways in which white women work towards

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make it difficult to form the alliances capable of effecting change. Clearly, the ways in which white women work towards anti-racism needs to be rethought. Australian Indigenous studies scholar Odette Kelada states that in order to transform the movement towards anti-racist feminism, mainstream (white) feminism must “shift its very framework of assumed knowledges and power positions, even as it articulates experiences of oppression.” However, since most educational institutions actively and passively work to allow white people to be unaware of racist societal structures, white women experience epistemological ignorance and are ill-prepared for intersectionality. There is a long history of white feminists producing work mired in Anglocentrism and imperialism due to their privilege. Thus, some feminist theorists believe that white women may be incapable of overcoming the ignorance produced by privilege that prevents anti-racist theorization. Feminist theorist Adale Sholock promotes a methodology of epistemic uncertainty for “the privileged” to more effectively engage in anti-racist work. Sholock discusses the continual critiques towards the solipsism, racism, and imperialism of white feminism, and asserts that it is okay, and in fact helpful, to be aware of one’s limitations and to accept them while continuing to do antiracist work:
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31 It is likely that the desire for epistemic confidence and mastery among white Western feminists is related to the epistemological entitlements that underwrite normative whiteness… Accordingly, a methodology of the privileged should not resolve the self-doubt of white anti-racists but rather strategically deploy epistemic uncertainty as a treasonous act against the cognitive privileges that support white Western hegemonies (708-9). She argues that acknowledgment of one’s limitations to “master” the race question as a white person should not dissuade from engagement with racial issues. Faulty epistemic confidence is supported by a western educational system immersed in white supremacist patriarchal capitalism. There is pressure towards mastery, of being an expert. The academy can thusly produce white feminists that have epistemological blank spots around race. This means that they have not gained knowledge about systemic racism either experientially/ personally, procedurally, or propositionally. Schools don’t typically teach about race formally. People of Color, however, are most often acutely aware of racial inequality, having profound experiential knowledge of racism. On the other hand, the system of white privilege/white supremacy creates white people who are “ignorant of social realities such as racism and white privilege and yet simultaneously confident in their thinking” (Sholock 712). White privilege provides a type of barrier to knowledge for white people about the ways in which they benefit from or are complacent with white supremacy.
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  • Summer '19
  • Maria Yvonne Dy

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