What is a Womanist? What is Privilege?

I am glad we are getting caught up with the readings and spending sometime with them. I enjoyed going over Alice Walker’s, “Womanist” definitions and hearing some people’s preferred definition of the four that were given. I particularly liked the second definition because I felt like it captured what a womanist/feminist is. I think the definition also does a good job at highlighting that womanism/feminism is in the interest of ALL people—men and women of all different walks of life “committed to survival and wholeness.”

I had always been wary and have had some hesitation about calling myself a feminist, not because of the ridiculous and false accusations on what is means to be a feminist (man hating, bra burning, butch, lesbian, blah, blah, blah), but because I never really included as a woman of color. Professor Haley’s reason for calling herself a Black Feminist really resonated with me, because she doesn’t allow others decide for her what she is or isn’t and I respect that. This definitely made me think more clearly about the way in which I want to see myself rather than the way others see me.

I thought the piece written by Stephanie A Shields, “Waking Up to Privilege,” had good intentions but ultimately misses the point and ends with points that show that she did not understand this idea of privilege. The funny thing about the phase she uses, “I am more than my whiteness” towards the end is that (1) No one said she wasn’t more or less than anything and (2) even if that were true, her statement is false because we don’t see whiteness the same way we see blackness (or any “other” category). Whiteness is the norm, therefore, we don’t talk about it or dissect or think critically or question what it means to be white anyways. Whiteness just is. It’s so overt. I think once we begin to investigate what whiteness truly is (not the romanticized version), we can better understand privilege. Ultimately, I thought that Shields goes into a state where she feel personally blamed, and misses the point of privilege and how she can use her privilege to help others.


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