The following is an excerpt from my book, I Am Not a White Male, by Rebecca Traister.
Traister is a professor at Harvard Law School and author of Black Feminism: A Feminist Anthology of Black Radical Thought.
“You need to be in the room with your fellow white men, and that’s where we are right now.
We have an institutionalized bias against us.
There are white men who don’t care about women, and white men whose main concern is not women.
There’s no doubt that white male privilege has existed for centuries.
It’s just that, now that the pendulum has swung so far toward the other side, and we’ve been fighting so hard to be equal to everyone else, we’ve kind of forgotten that the problem is white male supremacy.”
I am not a white male.
I am a woman.
I live in New York City.
When I started writing about gender and the workplace in 2013, the word “white” had no meaning.
It was only a word that I’d heard about on TV, and I was in awe of the people who were writing about it.
I had a friend who had been in the news a few times for his gender identity and sexual orientation.
It made me proud to be a part of that movement.
But as I wrote more, I realized that the word was really, really important to understand.
When you think about what makes someone a white person, you have to think about race.
I was in New Orleans for the Hurricane Katrina recovery, and when the city’s water started coming out, I was told by my colleague at the local NBC affiliate, David Mitchell, that the water was coming from the same sources as Katrina did.
So, how does that make you a white man?
I thought, Oh, right.
That’s the way we’ve always thought about being a white guy.
In the last year, I have become increasingly conscious of how often I’ve been told that I am white.
And it’s not just the people telling me.
It is the people in my workplace.
When I was interviewed on Meet the Press, I had to explain that I was white.
I was trying to explain to my interviewer, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
When we are talking about gender, the only thing that matters is the person.
But when we are discussing race, there is this sense of entitlement and white guilt.
So I think it is important to stop treating race as a thing that we need to fix, and start thinking about race as something that we should be grateful for.
The most important thing is that we are listening to each other.
We are not the only people who are affected by race, but we are the ones who are in charge of changing it.
“I can’t help but feel a little bit like a victim here.
When we are being harassed and called names, when we’re being told to shut up and don’t talk, we can feel powerless.
We don’t have the power.
I feel like a woman in a room full of men who have their eyes on me, and if I am standing up and saying something, they are looking at me and they’re not listening.
It feels like I am doing something wrong.”
But there are women who are willing to listen.
And they are telling us what we need, because we are in the position of power.
And this is where the movement comes in.
This is where we’re trying to find ways to make a difference.
And I’m not saying that women aren’t powerful or that we shouldn’t be thinking about gender.
But it is a powerful movement, and women are the majority of the population in this country.
We need to find more ways to empower women in this movement.