Audre Lorde: The Master’s Tools…
Lorde is a black lesbian feminist who is sick of prejudice. She begins her article on how black women are separated from white women in the feminist movement, with the focus being on what white women think. She says that racism, sexism, and homophobia are inseparable in America and we need to do something about that.
Much of the article focuses on difference. There is a difference between being tolerated and being appreciated. Lorde writes how black women are only tolerated, and the same is true for homosexuals and women. She also discuses age and economic status, and how this affects how you are treated. There is a divide between black and white women because they have different experiences. No white women will ever be able to understand what it is like for black women, but there should more of an effort to try to. If feminists want to get rid of prejudice against women, they should work harder to get rid of prejudice against black women too. Lorde brings up Adrienne Rich, which is interesting because we have read some of Rich’s writings previously.
Lorde writes that there is a difference between being male or female, being white or black, being gay or straight, and being young or old. These differences cannot be helped, but the prejudice that goes along with them can be.
Peggy McIntosh: Unpacking the Invisible…
This article also looks at racism within the feminist movement. McIntosh describes what men believe about women becoming empowered. Men think that the relationship is one of negative correlation (as one goes up, the other goes down), but McIntosh disagrees. She links how men see sexism to how white people view racism. The privileged group does not see how they are privileged. Racism and sexism are both forms of prejudice that need to be ended.
There are many forms of prejudice in the world today. McIntosh looks at racism and sexism, but she mentions many other forms as well. She makes a list of the ways that she is privileged every day. When describing the list she only mentions how black people have different experiences because they are not privileged; she does not mention any other race, which is an interesting side note. One of the items on the list struck me particularly. It is number seven, which says: “When I am told about our national heritage or about “civilization,” I am shown that people of my color made it what it is” (2). She is just talking about how white people are the ones that people mostly learn about in history class, yet it can also be said that it is mainly white men that people learn about.
McIntosh goes on to discus prejudice in our society and how it affects everyone, even those who do not think that they are affected. She calls for new social system, just as the Combahee River Collective does. Finally she concludes that power needs to be redistributed without prejudices to control whom gets what.
Combahee River Collective: A Black Feminist…
The Combahee River Collective is a group of black, lesbian, feminists who want to see a change in the social structure. Like McIntosh and Lorde, they criticize the feminist movement for being hypocritical. On one hand, feminists fight for equal rights between men and women, and on the other hand, there is a divide between white feminists and black feminists.
The Combahee River Collective starts out by talking about what it is like being black women. They list the different stereotypes that go along with black women, and how they reject these attributes. White men are considered above black men, black men are higher than white women, and white women are higher than black women. Sexual politics are directly involved with racial politics, and class prejudice is also important when looking at how people are treated.
They call for a total social revolution, but even this may not be enough. The Combahee River Collective writes about how personal these issues are for them, and they are sick of waiting for them. There is a call for everyone to become involved with attaining equality for people. Like Lorde, they directly look at the racism involved with the white women’s movement. The struggle for equality is harder for black and homosexual women, and instead of ignoring this fact (like white feminists do) the Combahee River Collective wants to start a social revolution.