Genderized Racism

By Al-Mansour

‘Ain’t I a woman?’
– Sojourner Truth, a 1840s Black feminist

What’s going on? White women hold a Black presidential candidate responsible for sexism in mainstream media. Blue collar white voters claim a Black presidential candidate does not have their cultural values. Claiming to be so disaffected over Hillary Clinton’s primary loss to Barack Obama, a Black man, White women have threatened to abandon the Democratic Party and its principles.

John McCain, the Republican candidate, in the presidential race, responded to alienation of White women by over-looking highly qualified males and selected an unknown white female, Gov. Sarah Palin, of Alaska, to be his vice-presidential running mate.

The Problem: Gender Over Race

A political battle royal has evolved between White women and Black Americans that has confused the public, in general, and Black Americans, in particular. For centuries, Black voters have routinely supported Whites, regardless of their political parties and personal qualifications, to fill the office of the president of the United States.

Now, for the first time, they are puzzled about why it is a problem in our “color-blind society” for White women, especially older White women, to support a well educated, highly qualified Black man, who is a United States senator.

Race and gender have become the determining factors. Internet blogging and mass media have made this the most publicized and expensive presidential campaign ever. This presidential campaign has engendered intense group-based anger and divisions.

Making sense out of all these political machinations can best be done by a quick study of race and gender conflicts in history. Since gender has always superceded and taking priority over (the Black) race, what this country is presently witnessing in the presidential election is age old “Genderized Racism.” It is the most subtle, destructive, and protected form of racism. Gender racism has never lost in a political campaign, violations of social etiquette, or in the distribution of wealth, power, and privileges.

An Historical Analysis:

From the founding of the country, White women have always been second to the White male in the succession of power, wealth and authority. The real issue in the 2007-2008 presidential campaign is a race and gender struggle to see who will succeed the White male. Will it be a Black man or a White woman? Who will be the “first non-white president” or the “first non-male president?”

Since only White men have held the high office of president and vice-president for over 200 years, White women feel their “whiteness” gives them a natural claim on the office. Debates about elitism, class-ism, cultural values, and patriotism are facades to inflame passions and raise symbolism over substance. The psyche of white racism is being challenged.

Our nation’s social etiquettes have long placed white women on a pedestal, in a protected class. If the White male surrenders the presidency of the United States, conservatives and liberals, male and female, want the “first presidential honors” to flow to a White woman.

Conservatives and liberals alike have successfully blurred the distinctions between White women and Black Americans. Sex and gender are the physical differences between men and women. Class is a term which sorts people according to their closeness to power, wealth, education, and ownership of resources.

There are class differences among Whites and Blacks and there always will be. Consequently, class must not be equated to race. Race is a biological construct that came into existence during slavery. Racism is a competitive relationship between groups of people who are competing for the ownership and control of power and wealth.

Racism justifies White superiority and opposes any efforts by Blacks to redistribute power and resources into their race. By possessing less than two percent of the nation’s wealth, a Black person cannot be a racist and whether the issue is gender, class or race, the Black race will be fixed at the bottom of the barrel.

Let’s briefly discuss why White women ought not be competing nor placed in the self-same category with members of the Black race. In form, degree and intent, racism against Blacks is vastly different from the class discrimination that women have received from the White male.

Unlike Blacks who are an obsolete labor class, White women are essential to the propagation of the white race. She not only lives with and bears the children of the White male, but most importantly she has co-owned, co-controlled, co-influenced, and inherited nearly 100 percent of everything that the White male has had since the founding of the country. Blacks have held no power over White women nor has the Black race benefited from any gender or class discrimination against women.
Equating gender discrimination and racism is like comparing a headache to cancer. It might be a headache being a woman, but throughout history, it was cancerous to be black.

For centuries in all things social, political and economic, White women enjoyed the fruits of black slavery and Jim Crow segregation. These socioeconomic institutions could not have existed without the support of White women who functioned as a back-up partner to the dominating White male.
Comparing sex discrimination against women to racism against Black Americans is like comparing a headache to cancer. Being a woman in American society may have its social challenges, if not a class ceiling, but for Black Americans, the ceiling as well as the walls were made of deadly forms of bricks and iron.

Women issues and the women’s movement were systematically equated to and used to neutralize Black socio economic advancement, even though there was little similarity between the status of Blacks and women. Black Americans were always a legalized, powerless, and impoverished minority. White Women are a majority group who has access to wealth and power. In our majority wins society, women are a majority who has always had the population numbers and political power to alter their conditions whenever they collectively decided to do so.

Due to a lack of consensus on social and racial issues, women of all colors have never chosen not to move as a sex-bound unit. Instead, the larger number accepted their subordinate position to the White male and shared in his socioeconomic exploitation of other groups, especially Blacks. White women were socio-economically advantaged by the enslavement and Jim Crow segregating of Blacks. Yet, the reverse was never true.

Black Americans have neither been collectively benefited nor advantaged by gender discrimination against women. It is amazing that instead of competing against and holding her White male counterpart accountable for any opportunities denied women. White women prefer to equate themselves to and compete against a powerless Black minority in affirmative action policies.

The first major attempts by women to shift the nation’s focus from Black people to White women occurred in the 1840’s. They tried to shift focus from growing anti-slavery abolitionist movement to a women’s demand to hold property in their name and to vote, even if they were not property owners. A generation later, when the U. S. Congress was drafting and enacting the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitutions, the women’s movement demanded that the women be granted equal protection and rights under the law before such rights were granted to newly freed Black slaves.

Radical Republican Congressmen rebuff the women and proclaim that the Civil War was fought to free five million Black slaves and not the voting rights of women. Prior to the civil war, the right to vote was connected to land ownership not gender. White women who held title to land could vote. And, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was enacted in 1920, women were already voting in thirty states. The 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution did nothing for Black women who got their full voting rights in the 1960’s along with Black men.

Further to this point, Supreme Court Justice Joseph Bradley wrote in an 1873 legal editorial that “man is, or should be woman’s protector and defender.” Justice Bradley expressed the belief that social customs have assigned women to a special, privileged and protected class. Therefore, women didn’t need a special constitutional amendment for the right to vote. Some women suffrage groups openly criticized Congress for its exclusion of women in the 15th Amendment. One prominent White feminist, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, used strong racist and elitist arguments against placing the enfranchisement of Black men above the concerns of White women.

According to author Eric Foner, Ms. Stanton said, “Think of Sambo…who (does) not know the differences between a monarchy and a republic, who never read the Declaration of Independence, making laws.” Further, for the black sisterhood, Ms. Stanton said, “The Black woman would be better off as the slave of an educated White man, than a degraded, ignorant Black one.”

Apparently, Sojourner Truth knew the difference between being a woman and being a black person. After listening to a White man talking about how White women were in a protected class, she rose to her feet and asked, “Ain’t I a woman? I have borne 13 children and have seen them sold off to slavery…and when I cried out with my mother’s grief, none but Jesus heard me.”

Sojourner knew no White women were suffering such pain simply because they were women. Today, in 2008, many White and Black women do not understand the difference between being a woman and being a Black in our society. If White women stick to their historical voting pattern, this presidential election will be a lesson for Black feminists who will see that 65 percent of all White women vote against Black men, black interests, and any other form of blackness.

Join the Discussion