Recent critiques of “white feminist” silence surrounding the misogynist attack against nine-year old actress Quvenzhané Wallis, coupled with – what seems to be – a ubiquitous and ever-growing culture of indifference regarding violence against women of color in general, and “white feminist” taciturnity and/or insensitivity in light of the same, in particular, gives much pause. These realities and critiques call on us to revisit Smith’s vision for feminism as a critical site of total freedom—for everyone.
It is abundantly apparent that “feminism” unmodified has not shown itself to be accountable to the necessary anti-racist project that is required for the liberation of all people. That is, “feminism” unmodified has remained tangibly accountable to “white, economically privileged, heterosexual women” while people of color continue to struggle over whether to even use the word “feminist,” or modify it to reflect the racialized communities they are accountable to through their feminist work(s). Simultaneously, white anti-racist feminists must identify as white anti-racist feminists in order to distinguish their work as accountable to communities of color.
All of this begs the question(s): Does feminism unmodified actually signify white, racist, capitalist, careerist etc. etc. feminism, or in other words “female self-aggrandizement”? Does feminism unmodified work to free all women? If so, how? And if not, why? And finally, what might an unmodified feminist theory and practice, which honors Smith’s definition, look like?