Towards An Abolitionist Feminism – Zillah Eisenstein

As an anti-racist white feminist, I wonder if it is enough to be an “ally” in this present and “newest” moment of racist/militarist/carceral violence. Or, is there something more to do? I am thinking hard about this “newness,” which is also very old.

White anti-racist feminists can take the lead from our Black and Brown sisters and embrace an abolitionist stance towards chattel slavery and its racist and misogynist remains. Such an abolitionist feminism must commit to abolishing all forms of racial and sexual violence along with the hierarchies of economic class and hetero-patriarchy in their white privileged forms.

If I had lived during chattel slavery, I would have been an activist abolitionist feminist. Today, I/we need an activist abolitionist feminism focused on ending the hetero-patriarchal capitalist racist police state.

I used to be grateful that I did not live during institutionalized and legal chattel slavery. Instead, I was raised by Communist parents whose entire beings were committed to an ending of Jim Crow law. As a child I participated in picket lines and the civil rights movement. Laws were then changed; and it was now easier to fool yourself, especially if you are white, that racism had ended. Actually, racism got more complicated, more extra-legal, and more insidious.

On Being White

I am not sure James Baldwin is nuanced enough when he says that being white is an attitude more than a color—that you are as white as you think you are and therefore it is a choice; and that for Blacks their color is a “condition,” and not a choice. But I like the lack of equivalence, making whiteness a choice, and that whites have an added responsibility for the times “we” ALL live in. What does this mean for white anti-racist/abolitionist feminists?

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