women's march

Dear NOT ALL White Feminists –

I would say, You Know Who You Are, but you don’t. You are low on self-awareness, high on fragility. You are obsessed with news about Donald Trump, Republicans, and Nazis. Sarah Huckabee Sanders is, like, the worst ever. You pore over every detail of White House horror, rallies are your brunch of choice and regardless of the cause—Keep Families Together, Abolish ICE or March for Science—you show up gleefully with signs about the “Orange Cheeto.” You are quick with a Namaste but are slow to care about the slew of Sikh men who’ve recently been murdered.

You scare me more than all your enemies combined. At least those bigots are out in the open, waving flags, dropping epithets like bombs, tweeting hate from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

But you? You come bearing progress, allyship, pink pussy hats. What a joke. To me, your sea of pink burns as bright as the Tiki-torches of Charlottesville and stings even more than getting called a “Muslim c–t,” Breitbart’s boilerplate insult.

You must be thinking right about now, who’s this angry lunatic and what’s got her goat?  

Here’s the thing: I used to be one of you, the most powerful subset of liberal white supremacy. I used to be a white feminist.

Weird, right?

It’s called internalized oppression and I worked my brown butt off to ensure maximum whiteness. I worshipped Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and Amy Schumer. The Democratic party was my religion and Hillary Clinton, my God. I knocked doors, raised money, made calls for any candidate with a “D” next to their name. My kid carved H.R.C. into our pumpkin in October 2016 and three months later, I flew to Washington, shoving my brown head into my own pink hat.  

Saira Rao
[Photo Courtesy/Saira Rao]
A year later, this past January, I decided to challenge one of your own, Diana DeGette, the liberal white 11-term incumbent in Colorado’s 1st congressional district, who had become extremely comfortable doing extremely little for us, her constituents.

I announced late and only had 20 weeks to campaign, but boy were you able to pack a ton of racist punches in that short time. These weren’t of the “Go Back to India, drown in the Ganges” sort that I got from Breitbart and Daily Caller readers. Your attacks were more subtle, of the gaslighting, tone policing persuasion one can find in chapter one of the White Feminist Handbook: Wait your turn. You’re not qualified. You’re a liar. And the omnipresent, You’re angry.

Saira Rao
[Photo Courtesy/Saira Rao]
After losing the race on June 26, my family and I headed to the mountains to rest. One afternoon, as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed, I found an April 2018 essay by Dr. George Yancy in The New York Times making the rounds again. It was titled: “Should I Give Up On White People?” Dr. Yancy is black. I quoted the tweet and added: “Short and long answer: Yes.”

In response, a bunch of local papers published articles about me being a reverse racist and a sore loser. Many of you agreed, lamenting your prior support of me now that I’d exposed myself as a reverse racist and a sore loser. To be clear, I am a sore loser. I’m sore that we continue to lose the battle against white supremacy.

As for reverse racism, please Google it, or better yet, actually internalize the book, “White Fragility” by Dr. Robin DiAngelo. You know it. The one you’ve been bragging about to all of your Rebeccas, Bekahs, and Beckys. The one your book club read last week. You were at the meeting, swilling Chardonnay, nibbling on celery and adding tons of value. Don’t worry, nobody else knows you secretly couldn’t get past chapter three because it wasn’t really resonating. Consider trying again. While you’re at it, consider taking a break from penning love posts to Beto O’Rourke. It’d be way cooler if you could get your husband and his friends to stop trashing Colin Kaepernick.

But nah, doubtful. You’re too busy training for the Back-Patting Olympics, a rigorous routine of Trump memes, marches and reading the New Yorker cover to cover. Lord knows you’ve got stiff competition – your entire yoga studio alone.

It’s too bad. You wield tremendous power. Imagine if you fought tooth and nail to uplift your brown and black sisters, to bring us up to your white level, where together we oust the white dude hegemony that oppresses all of us.  

Sounds badass, right?

You can do this. But it’s going to require you to put down your “Orange Cheeto” sign and pick up a mirror.  

I hope you’ll consider it.  

With love and hope,
Saira

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