By Kelcie McKenney
When you opened social media this week chances are you were flooded with black squares. All of your friends came together and supported Black people by sharing a single post on their Instagram! We collectively ended police brutality and racism with a single post! Peak activism!
Being an ally doesn’t work like that. And there are a lot of Black, female voices (like these you should follow to start!) telling us—and by us I mean white women—that we’re SO in the wrong. It’s about damn time we listen.
The feminist movement is historically pretty fucking racist, and we’ve got a lot of unlearning to do. A lot, a lot, a lot of unlearning to do. So Aubrey Young and Jihan Bazile of Babe Collective created a zine for white women to use as a jumping off point to “understand our role in White Feminism and to challenge our behaviors and step out of our comfort zone.”
We spoke with Young, founder of Babe Collective, about the new zine and the launch party and intersectional-focused conversation happening on Friday—which we will be at! (Catcall founder, Kelcie, me!, is on that panel.) It’s a free, virtual workshop, which you can register for here.
There are a lot of resources created by Black women to use after this conversation—which Babe Collective shares in their zine and on social media—so think of this conversation as step one in a lifetime of reeducation, work, and support for the Black community. But we all have to start somewhere.
What is A Feminists’s Guide to: Unlearning White Feminism? How does someone use it?
It really began as a place for me to memorialize the journey into intersectional feminism that I had sort of stumbled upon. It was honestly overwhelming in the beginning. I didn’t feel I had the knowledge to start a conversation, or even know where to turn to learn more about intersectionality. I realized that so many of these problems came from a white feminism narrative so ingrained in popular culture, that resources like this didn’t exist because the whole story wasn’t being told.
A Feminist’s Guide doesn’t mean that I or any person is here to guide you through the murky waters of intersectionality. It’s a field guide of sorts. When A Feminist’s Guide began, it was a community event held at Firebrand Collective in the West Bottoms, where we would come together for a feminist craft night and guided conversations about intersectional feminism. I call it our feminist lair. It’s always highly collaborative, and the zine is meant to be used the same way. Share it with a friend, host your own guided chats, and start the conversation. The book introduces intersectional concepts, topics, and vocabulary followed by questions or prompts. It’s a little campy, irreverent, and visually arresting. The goal is always to facilitate a candid open discussion with no ego, where the only problem is how do we come together to create a feminism in which all are truly equal. But disclaimer: if a little shock value, foul language, and irreverence isn’t your deal, then maybe we’re not for you.
What sort of questions or conversation can one expect from the book?
This zine is an intro to intersectional concepts—sort of laying the groundwork. A lot of the content really teaches the reader how to approach these concepts and conversations out in the real world, and the questions invite everyone to learn from each other. They ask you to strategize and share experiences, and even get hella introspective. It ranges from “What’s a non-awkward way to tell a friend that what they’ve said or done is racist/insensitive?” to “What is an appropriate response when we found out we have done something racist or insensitive, ourselves?” We even added a series of intersectional clapbacks to white feminism. I think that our experiences are so much more meaningful as collective knowledge, and there’s nothing I like better than sitting around crafting and shooting the shit with feminists.
Your team at Babe Collective for this session is made up of predominantly white women. Why is it important that white women take charge of unlearning white feminism?
I’M SO GLAD YOU ASKED THIS QUESTION. I’m the first to say that I’m privileged as fuck, and that becoming intersectional wasn’t like an easy thing to learn and grow into. It’s coutnter to every feminist narrative I’ve ever been fed in my entire life. And that’s what made me realize that it was such an important conversation to have—because there are so many of us that can say the same thing. It would be so easy to look at this panel and be like what the FUCK? Where are the brown people? But here’s the thing. Minorities don’t owe you their stories and their traumas in order to help you grow. Historically, white feminists have fucked up, like BIG TIME. And now, feminism largely focuses on the struggles of white women. Not cool. But therein lies the privilege. It is our job as white womxn to use the privilege that we have been granted to help re-establish equality. Recognize your privilege, and then use it as a weapon to fight against the systems that put it in place.
And the first step is just to have a conversation. It doesn’t have to be a big scary one, or wildly intellectual, even. But ask questions, seek to understand, and don’t be afraid to say “me too.” That’s one of the most powerful things about being a white woman and starting a conversation about intersectional feminism. The ability to say, “I totally get it, I used to think the same thing.” Or, “I never knew that issue existed.” So often, white people are scared to start this journey because they’re afraid of asking the wrong question, being judged, or feel ashamed. I’m just here to remind them that they aren’t jumping off the deep end on their own, and to remind them that being intersectional means choosing it and practicing it over and over again. It’s not something that you can just “set and forget”.
What are some of the discussion points that will take place in the virtual chat?
The three main themes of the book we’ll be tackling are: White Saviors, Seeing Color, and Cultural Appropriation. We’ll talk about how to create more diversity in your life, how to appreciate another culture, how to support WOC/POC in our immediate community, and why are these conversations so damn scary. But in between these big topics we always find room for lots of laughs. The important part is sharing knowledge and experiences. It’s not formal or stuffy in any way. I always walk away with new artists, influencers, makers, poets, to follow. Every time I walk away from a guided chat I feel like my world grows larger.
We would be remiss if we didn’t discuss the murders of innocent Black people, including George Floyd. The evening is being dedicated to him, and others, whose lives were taken unjustly. I’d like to talk about justified rage, the history of peaceful BIPOC activism, and how to clap back to people that align themselves with oppressors.
If an attendee takes only one thing away from this guide or session, what do you hope they would learn?
I gotta be honest: White feminists have fucked up. Privilege doesn’t exist without oppression. Every day conversations can lead to change, and confronting our own roles in white feminism doesn’t have to be scary. And everything is better with crafts. Ah shit, that’s way too many things. But, what I want people to know is that there’s always a place for you to come and learn and laugh and craft with us. Don’t be scurred. This isn’t feminist AA or something. It’s not somber or unapproachable. It’s really fun.
Who will be leading the virtual chat?
I’ll be hosting the chat and introducing the concept and the book alongside my collaborator and co-author, Jihan Bazile. We’re hosting a pre-game on FB live prior to the event—you can find it on the BABE Collective group page. We’ll be talking about how the zine is supposed to be used, how it came about, and why we do what we do. But it’s really important that the chats themselves don’t have a leader or facilitator. We’re all equal, with experiences to share, questions to ask, and solutions to propose.
I’m definitely not a world-class feminist. Like, far from it. I’m learning and growing as much as anyone. I can do it, anyone can do it. The best thing about A Feminist’s Guide is that it doesn’t take a feminist historian to start a conversation about white feminism. Jihan MIGHT actually be well on her way though. She’s SO knowledgeable, I’m constantly bowing at her altar. We met through an apprenticeship program, and immediately I was like, oh shit. We’ve GOT to collaborate, so I started letting her create some content and she became a HUGE part in how BABE, and A Feminist’s Guide found it’s voice.
I’m SO excited to announce that for our inaugural chat, we will have a panel of amazing feminists assembled to help show you the ropes, and what these conversations look like. Cassie Taylor was the spark that lit the fire. She’s a master collaborator and never shies away from tough conversations, and it was a feminist hang that she created at the park a year or so ago that helped me figure out what BABE Collective was actually supposed to be. Megan Hemphill opened her arms to us from day one, and Firebrand Collective is now our favorite feminist lair. I struck up the nerve to ask Katie Mabry van Dieren to help facilitate our last chat and was in awe of her mindfulness and knowledge. She invited you (Kelcie), which honestly freaked me the fuck out, because I was afraid that I would look like a complete b-hole in front of you. But then I remembered, ugh, that’s exactly what Feminist’s Guide is about. I love that we all are quietly teaching each other how to be better. I have such a boner for all of you. 😛
[That boner is mutual, and all of these women on the panel would admit that we’re still learning! That’s the key to growth—never stop asking questions, challenging yourself, and looking to BIPOC leaders on how to be a better ally]
Aside from using this guide, what are other ways white women can be conscious of their privilege and actively work to better support BIPOC women, and people as a whole?
First, seek out people that don’t look like you. To follow on Instagram, to read about, watch and learn about (we made a handy list for you in the back of the zine). Make your world slightly bigger (and slightly less white). BUY FROM WOC/POC owned businesses, share art AND GIVE CREDIT, donate to causes and organizations doing intersectional work in your community. Make room for people of color at your table: in your collaborations, industry, etc. Vote for policies and leaders that support everyone. And when they fuck up, actually write them a letter and tell them about it. Learn a recipe from a different culture, learn how to celebrate Cinco de Mayo without being an asshole. There are infinite ways to grow in intersectionality and support WOC and POC.
What’s next for Babe Collective after this? Any other programming in the works?
EEEEE! Yes, we are working on a sequel to the zine! It’s a follow up, introducing new concepts and an intersectional feminist glossary. We’ve even snuck some crafts and activities of our own in there. BABE Collective is also an online community that’s a lot of fun. We have a Facebook group where we share a lot of our favorite articles and resources, and really fun feminist content. I am also always posting in there trying to find where to find an affordable goddamn band T. We’re planning our next guided virtual chat for June. I always want to do more collaborations, so we’ll always be looking for those. (Slip in our DMs)
A Feminist’s Guide to: Unlearning White Feminism
RSVP to Friday’s virtual chat here.
Buy the Zine here.
Download a free, digital copy of the Zine here when it drops on Thursday at midnight.
Kelcie McKenney is a writer, editor, and artist who is passionate about feminism. She currently works as Digital Editor at The Pitch , where she writes and edits for Kansas City’s alternative magazine. You can find Kelcie on Instagram with #kcdaddy, where she talks about her three-legged cat Luna, dank memes, and ways to overthrow the patriarchy.