Today are the primaries for my state (go Bernie!), and being a dutiful American/annoying outspoken feminist bitch, I went to cast my vote early, although my polling place didn’t deign to give me a sticker. It’s the 96th year in a row that women in this country have had the right to cast a vote, and yet it’s not as simple as the achievement along gender lines.
Once again, race makes itself known in the fight for equality. Native Americans (men and women alike) were barred from casting votes until 1934, and state and local governments have implemented multiple voting conditions meant to restrict the rights of Black Americans from accessing their polling places, to the point that in 1965 Johnson had to sign the Voting Rights Act to ensure a cessation of those restrictions.
This A to Z challenge has had me banging on incessantly about the history of racism in the women’s rights movement, to the point that I feel like a broken record. Noted suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton used anti-Black sentiments to stir up support for their movement, which was ultimately effective (see: 19th Amendment).
We cannot change the past, much as we wish otherwise. I owe the vote I cast today, as well as the past twelve years, to Stanton and Anthony and Shaw and other white women who excluded Black and other non-white women from their fight for equality. If we ignore the scapegoating of women of color, which enforced their struggle, and turned white women into oppressors instead of allies, we are doomed to repeat that history.
We cannot allow ourselves to win victories in feminism on the backs of another’s oppression. Otherwise, we are worse than the patriarchy.