I wasn’t able to participate in the Women’s March on Saturday; I work for a educational organization focused on inner city youth, and it was necessary to have a safe space open and available for young people.
As I sat up in bed late Saturday night, I was so proud of my mother, my sister, my cousins, and all my friends and colleagues who participated in marches across the country. I spent hours and hours scrolling through photos, watching and re-watching videos with tears in my eyes. For a brief and hopeful moment, all of my anxieties about the election and the future of the country any my community were washed away.
So you can imagine that when I saw this photo in a friend’s feed, it hit me like a ton of bricks.
According to exit poll data, 94% of black women and 68% of Latina women supported Hillary Clinton.
By comparison, only 51% of college-educated white women voted for Clinton, and 53% of white women
overall voted for Donald Trump. (Source)
I am a white woman, and this photo speaks to my every fear about my demographic. It *is* cute and trendy to have your pink hat, to call yourself a feminist and to march in the big event. But what happens tomorrow? And the day after that? Will we still be there when the real work starts?
I fear that white women will stop participating when the lure of cute accessories and selfie opportunities disappear. I fear we’ll abandon our sister marchers in the moments when they really need us the most, because “[insert issue] is not my problem; it doesn’t affect me or my community.” I fear we are opportunists, and not really feminists at all.
There’s a slang term: white girl problems. Similar to first world problems, white girl problems are those little annoyances that can happen to privileged women. In the moment, they can feel like real problems, but they’re usually just drama and not problems at all. However, for every pretend “white girl problem” that exists, I believe there is a real “yes, all women” problem that we can work to fix.
Here are five white girl problems, turned around into real world solutions.
- White Girl Problem: The March was so historic! I want to remember every minute of it forever, but my DC metro pass won’t stick in my scrapbook.Don’t scrapbook your card! Donate it!
According to the US Census, the median income for a woman living in the District of Columbia in 2015 was only $36,600. Disposable Metro passes in DC (aka: SmarTrip Cards) cost about $2 each before fares, which can really add up if you’re regularly supplying cards to your family on a small salary. If you went to the Women’s March in Washington, don’t paste your pass in a scrapbook. Instead, donate your card to a family in need.
- White Girl Problem: I want to embrace minimalism, but my closet is just too full.
Pay your pantsuit forward.
If this election and its aftermath has taught us anything, it’s the power of a good pantsuit. If you’re cleaning out your closet, donate your unwanted professional clothes to an organization like Career Wardrobe. Your pantsuit will help empower another woman to dress for success.
- White Girl Problem: I got a new phone, but now my old phone is just sitting in my drawer, taking up space. (It’s totally cramping my new, minimalist style!)
Your old phone can help a victim of domestic violence.
Women are far more likely to be the victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse, and survivors don’t always have access to a working mobile phone. The National Network to End Domestic Violence and Verizon Wireless have teamed up to refurbish old phones from any carrier and distribute them to victims of violence. Donate your old phone or host a phone drive to support victims of domestic violence and abuse.(PS – Redistributing old phones also keeps them out of landfills. Bonus points for helping the environment!)
- White Girl Problem: I want to eat clean, but Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) memberships are sooooo expensive.
Help families in food deserts eat clean, too. Support an urban garden.
The American Nutrition Association defines a food desert as an area that lacks access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and other healthy, whole foods. Food deserts are most often found in impoverished areas because they lack real grocery stores, markets and farm stands. Organizations like the Center for Environmental Transformation in Camden, NJ and activists like Gangsta Gardener Ron Finley in LA are working to create urban gardens that will both beautify struggling communities, and supply fresh fruits and vegetables to low income neighborhoods. Read about their efforts, and find out how you can donate to support them.
- White Girl Problem: I want to do more, staying involved is hard!
Yes, it is. Keep on Marching.
The first 100 days of any new administration set the tone for the next four years. Keep up with Women’s March by participating in their 10 Actions/100 Days campaign.
The Women’s March on Saturday was a powerful statement that women will not sit back quietly and allow others to dictate what happens to us. We may have philosophical differences, but when we work together, we create amazing things all across the world. As we set sail into uncharted waters, I ask only this of other white women: Please, for the sake of all women, stay involved. Your rights are more important than a photo op.
With love and solidarity,