Faith, Love, Politics, and Social Justice

Dear White Women: The Things We Do in Secret


Sisters. It is time we talked. We just elected someone to be our president whose racism is so obvious that the KKK is now marching in celebration. The polls all said he would not win. But he did. The polls said white women in particular would vote against him. We did not. That means a bunch of us lied and said we weren’t voting for him but, once we were alone in that voting booth, we did. We voted for an admitted sexual assailant over another white woman who could have been our first female president and many of us did it in secret.

Why? I hear all kinds of explanations. Hillary is so bad. Emails. The economy. The dems don’t listen and so on and so forth. I could argue against each one but I won’t because deep down I don’t think any of these reasons are real. If they were, we wouldn’t have done this thing in SECRET.

When do we do things in secret? We do things in secret when we want to present one face to the world and another to our community and even to ourselves. We hide our racism under white sheets, social masks, coded language, and voting booths. We are so good at hiding our racism that we even hide it from ourselves. We say we are electing a KKK endorsed candidate DESPITE all the hateful things he said about people of color not because of it. We use the language of “greatness” and “unity” without considering who it is that will pay the price for it. Even when faced with a “not PC” candidate who “tells it like it is” meaning he is OVERT in his own racism, we still pretend he didn’t just say what he did. We still find a way to vote for the racist without making it SEEM like we are racist ourselves, often believing we really aren’t. Sometimes we do it by playing with language that makes it possible to BE racist without being CALLED racist or even thinking to ourselves privately that we might BE racist. Others just lie.  

Well guess what. As a white woman, I am calling us out. We just did some really racist shit. Racist, racist, racist and yes, I just cussed. Oh my.

Why do I think this happened? The best explanation I can come up with is the way so many of us have been socialized to think about black men. Dating back to the era of mass lynchings and probably sooner, we were told black men were predators wanting to rape us and that our “virtue” and “womanhood” needed protection. I remember when I first became a police officer and white men wanted to get me off the job by trying to scare me by pointing to the “dangers” of the job, they almost always used the language of “What are you going to do when confronted by a BIG, BLACK, MAN?” When men are trying to get us to cooperate with the patriarchy by setting up boogie men, it’s never white assailants. It’s this mythological “big, black, man” that keeps us in line, obedient to the “nice, white, men” who perpetrate it in order to maintain dominance. We don’t like patriarchal dominance. That’s why many of us identify as feminist.

But even when we are feminist-fighting patriarchy, we still don’t fight the racism that lies within ourselves and our movement. From the beginning white American feminism has been racist. The first wave of feminism (the suffrage movement, Seneca Falls etc.) explicitly rejected black women. When it was apparent that the right to vote would either come first to black men or to white women, the white suffragettes were quick to betray their black sisters.  Check out the history of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony as it relates to their treatment of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth. That is the side of our movement we don’t like to look at, but desperately need to, because we never overcame it. We, white feminists, are still in the business of betraying our black sisters.

We will even turn on other white women if they get too close to black people, particularly black men. That is what I believe just happened to Hillary Clinton. She allied herself with President Obama and paid the price for it.

 According to the exit polls, Black women were more than willing to support a white woman for president. They turned up in great numbers to do so. But they were the only ones who did.

We white women made a different choice. In secret.

We took our “souls to the polls” and lost them.

We have to do better than that. Starting now.

38 responses

  1. Elle J. Slutzky

    you have a wonderful message that we all need to here – MUST here, but your text size and background color make you incredibly painful – as in physically painful – to read. please make it physically easier to read. it’s hard enough for us white women to own our racism without making it unreadable.

    November 12, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    • BethK

      Was just going to say the same. I’m struggling to read something I very much want to read & then share, but I can’t get past the reading part. Might be my middle-aged eyesight, but it’s really bad. I love purple, but it doesn’t work here.

      November 14, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    • Al

      That in itself was a sarcastic statement

      November 14, 2016 at 10:32 pm

  2. Pretty good post but I do not think it will do any good.

    November 12, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    • Suniti

      It certainly does help, at least, to those of us who are not white, on the brink of giving up that we will ever be accepted in white America, to know that there are white women like Karyn who speak the truth and continue the fight for social justice.

      November 14, 2016 at 2:42 pm

    • Jackie Baldwin

      Excellent post…2 late!!!

      November 14, 2016 at 11:44 pm

  3. Thank you!

    November 13, 2016 at 4:27 am

  4. Thank you!

    November 13, 2016 at 4:28 am

  5. Pingback: White Feminism – Ayaba's Labyrinth

  6. Frances Hartsky

    Agree…but what can we do now…❤️❤️

    November 13, 2016 at 6:08 pm

  7. Lisa

    I didn’t vote in secret, however I was extremely ridiculed when I did mention who I was voting for. I think it’s safe to assume that others witnessed this behavior and decided to not speak about it in fear of being ridiculed themselves. Commenting that every person that voted for trump is racist is bullying those that for trump. I’m not this woman’s sister so the underhanded comment should have been left unsaid. I’m not interest in her opinion because she’s bullying people, which is the reason woman of ALL colors voted for trump. I know many black and Latino men and women that are US citizens that are sick and tired of working hard for their money only to allow 35% OR MORE of taxes taken from their pay for those “less fortunate”. When I say less fortunate I’m talking about those that CAN work but won’t. (Key word….won’t) Those that live their eternal life scamming our social security and welfare systems while our veterans of ALL colors go homeless and hungry! It’s not about RACISM it’s about rights! The people that pay for everyone else are sick and tired of it and the only change offered is from voting for trump. THAT is why trump won! Not because I’m uneducated or white but because giving my hard earned money to everyone else has syphoned OUR country and has our economy bleeding. Don’t put me in the same category as you, I’m not a bully or a racist, you however, are both!

    November 14, 2016 at 1:21 am

    • Bridget

      So you and him voted to put the klan in the White House. Most of what trump preached for 15 months. Wouldn’t adversely affected you. You will be well protected in the ivory tower of whiteness. You don’t have to worry about being sexually assaulted so long as your not alone with him. I actually heard a white woman say those words. The fallout for you is minimal at best. Everyone else the harassment has just begun. When will the cost of your vote be to high when you see the lynched body swing in the wind on the nightly new. Oh it won’t affect you because it won’t be a white woman.

      November 15, 2016 at 3:28 pm

    • Kyle

      The taxes don’t specifically go to other people. They go to government salaries, the military especially, building roads, upkeep of federal buildings, etc. and your president elect hasn’t paid income taxes in years and you really think he gives a shit about working class people who cry at a little bit of money being taken out for taxes…it’s America, find a way to make more money or just live with your choice of career.

      November 15, 2016 at 3:31 pm


      AMEN!!!! Could not have said this better!

      November 15, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    • anna

      I do not want to bully you or make you feel put down in any way. However, I do want you to check “facts.” We have been fed a great deal of propaganda in this campaign. You do not pay high taxes because a lot of money goes to people “less fortunate.” A very small part of your taxes goes to any social programs. A lot of your taxes go to pay for the military and for debt service we are in because the Bush administration cut taxes on the wealthy, and did not pay for the Iraq War but borrowed. And very wealthy defense contractors, including Dick Cheney of Halliburton and his friends made bucket loads of money. People who run private prisons are making bucket loads of money locking up non-violent people in substandard conditions, instead of us helping people to get trained to work to support their families. A lot of your taxes are wasted on prisons that hold millions of non-violent drug offenders. I know people who get social security disability checks – the checks are very small, but they keep people who cannot work from being homeless. And if you know any unemployed people, and talked to them, you would find that most of them would do anything to get a job, but they can’t find one. I know a man who had a conviction 35 years ago. He went to college when he got out of jail, and he did get work. But when he got laid off in a downsizing, he could no longer find work. He got a job offer to work in an Amazon warehouse, and when they ran his record check, they told him he could not work there. He is doing cleaning at a motel owned by a friend. What a waste. Do you really want mothers of new babies working outside the home right after those babies are born? Your hard earned money is going to subsidize the wealthy, not people like my friend, believe me. I hope you can look behind all the propaganda you have been fed, and think again.

      November 15, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    • Jen

      And yet, Lisa, to not speak up in opposition to his racism makes you complicit to it. It’s just a fact. You chose to join the bully, so what doe that mean?mi am not calling you a racist but you did a very racist thing by voting him into office.

      November 16, 2016 at 4:08 am

    • Marie

      You’ve been economically bam-boozled. You’ve been spoon-fed a dog whistle racial narrative that those “lazy [insert ethnic group here]” are stealing your hard earned money all the while completely oblivious to where your tax dollars are ACTUALLY going. Less than a penny of every tax dollar goes to those “less fortunate” you’ve referenced. So where does the rest of it go, do you suppose? And are you truly expecting to see a tax break by cutting that one penny on the dollar in half? Is that the economic logic you use to balance your household budget? And if you really want to follow the money take a look at who’s getting richer and who’s getting poorer in this country. The Koch brothers, the Walton’s, Donald Trump, and even loads of Democratic politicians in bed with Wall Street are the ONLY one’s getting richer. And they’ve tricked you into blaming the poverty their greed is causing on the already dirt poor. They paint the “less fortunate” brown and tell you that those black/brown people are stealing all your dough. The whole time the mega-rich are siphoning every penny they can get out of you and putting it into their personal off-shore tax free accounts. And you play right into their hands regurgitating the lie they told you that poor people, black people, brown people are making you poor. You better figure it out. Cause adding to the rolls of homeless people in the streets while continuing to allow this money-siphoning and hoarding among the mega-rich is going to get you and all the rest of us working stiffs increasingly BROKE.

      November 16, 2016 at 8:25 pm

  8. It pains my soul to pen these words. This is the only way I can deal with my feelings and to cope the results of our past election. I am supposed to be basking in the political afterglow of a common-sense decisive Democratic presidential victory; looking forward to the future, not directing my shock and rage to the printed word. This loss has left me bereft and despairing. This presidential campaign should have been a presumptive victory where the first woman should have been elected to the Presidency of United States of America and the highest, hardest, glass ceiling broken. Instead, the Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was blindsided, betrayed and humiliated. I blame 46.9% of non-voting Americans, 53% of white women who voted for Donald Trump and “Down Low” Democrats. These card carrying democrats attended rallies and free concerts, cheered Secretary Clinton on at the convention and then stabbed her in the back under the cover of the voting booth voting for candidates of opposing political parties.
    The hubris of your inaction and or your reckless vote has lead to the destruction of the United States of America as we know it. You have allowed an ill-equipped, unqualified, unfit, homophobic, xenophobic, misogynistic, tax-evading, sexual predator to be elected as our 45th president. The President-Elect has no love for our country; his only love is for the chase, the hunt, the hostile takeover; the art of the deal. You “down-low” democrats have sodomized your politics and should be regarded as traitors and deserters. You disobeyed President Obama and you have damaged and disgraced his legacy. Many Republicans did not agree with the President-Elect but most were loyal to their party and voted for their Republican candidate.
    As a result of this election, many people are no longer exercising political correctness. They have unpacked their long repressed bigotry, racism, and hatred and have begun to spew their societal vile. Incidents of hate, racism, sexual assault, and xenophobia have already occurred in our schools and neighborhoods. We are entering a period of dark discord that will take years to repair. If we are not careful, every right we Americans enjoy will be taken away and our country will be set back 200 years where women and minorities will be “re-reduced” to second-class citizens. The physical safety of our citizens and our way of life is at risk and we may not have the luxury of four years to wait to make change.
    Debora Gossett Rivers

    November 14, 2016 at 6:06 am

  9. Rose

    From an ebony “sister” to an ivory “sister” that was BEAUTIFUL. I wish we as human beings could see one another beyond the color of our skin. (I am in tears….)

    November 14, 2016 at 6:06 am

  10. Robert

    Great post.

    I commend your courage. You spoke truth and no matter what, don’t you dare stop speaking the truth. In my view, you are on to something and you will attain a following of like thinking individuals who lacked the initial courage that you have displayed, but trust me they will get to where you are, but you are needed to keep the torch of hope burning.

    Considering yourself a trailblazer, keep thinking and keep putting your thoughts to paper (or should I say your keyboard).

    We’re listening and I’d like to be a part of your moving forward. It must keep going, you can’t stop now.


    November 14, 2016 at 6:54 am

  11. Julie Mills

    What a bunch of utter nonsense. You should ask yourself for forgiveness for the time you wasted writing this toilet fodder. At least my toilet time when by reading the typical trash that is usually read when on the abode.

    November 14, 2016 at 12:55 pm

  12. Rebecca Prien

    There are questions posted here about what we can do now. I’ve put out a call to reflection on Facebook here:
    This is where I’ve come to about moving forward: We begin being painfully honest with ourselves. We then begin speaking up and out in our own communities, with people who already trust us, about our blind spots. We ask women of color, those who already trust us, what they actually need, how, from their point of view, we can actually stand together.

    November 14, 2016 at 2:43 pm

  13. An appreciative woman of color

    Yesssss!!! We need more of this. Keep speaking the truth. I don’t need sympathy, a hug. I need people to wake up and own their privilege and use that privilege to reach others so that they wake up.

    November 14, 2016 at 3:27 pm

  14. True Lewis

    We’ve always STOOD up for you White Women. The one time we needed you the most, you broke our hearts once again. I know the Suffragette History. I was appalled at how they protected their selves. I keep seeing Mr. Bryant’s wife from the Emmitt Till Murder Case. I keep seeing the look on the Mothers face on The Help when the DAR lady told her to dismiss her maid. How she was made to feel after all those years of service only to be told you have to go, for the sake of how things look. We’ve protected you from harms way so many times in history. We as Black Women can be so forgiving. Do I want to be so forgiving now? I hope our Sisters can take a deep look inside their Souls and see why this is morally wrong and really sit in this Shame and Own it and get to the real work that needs to be done. Are you wiling to get out of your comfort and safety zone? I was resting on my Ancestors laurels and now I’m at the age where I thought we’d be okay and was blindsided. I have to live out the rest of my life still fighting for Justice on a daily basis like the many Generations before me. Please ask yourself honestly what is going on?

    November 14, 2016 at 6:49 pm

  15. Tattie

    I hear you but I have always been far more afraid of white men. They feel “entitled.” Black men don’t.

    November 14, 2016 at 10:18 pm

  16. Terri Dukes

    There is always something that can be done. Time to dig down deep and take a look in the mirror. And ask yourself are you capable of shedding your past perceptions of those unlike you for the greater good. This should have been addressed prior to the Presidential election. But we can’t look back. Look forward to the mid-term elections in 2018. We must displace as many Republicans as possible in Congress and the Senate at the state and Federal level. We need change in a number of states where Republican Govenors and Lt. Govenors have been just as disruptive and debilitating to the well being of our communities with divisive behavior. There will also be plenty opportunities to march against Trumps policy decisions. We can not just sit by the wayside and let bad things happen in our country. Time for Redemption!

    November 14, 2016 at 11:30 pm

  17. Daphodil

    This is absurd! The media said white women were going to vote for Hillary (AKA Killary). The actual white women said nothing of the kind, and we let them know just how wrong that assumption was loud and proud in the voting booths. We voted for the best candidate for the job. Not based on our own type of female chauvinism. I can’t believe someone would right this. Wow! Talk about having the blinders on!

    November 15, 2016 at 1:05 am

  18. Angela D. Mathews

    I thought this to be very eye-opening and thought provoking. I’m a 58 year old Black woman and I appreciate you telling the truth. Just so you know, there were some Blacks who fell for the okey-doke and voted for Trump as well. I’m appalled at everyone of every race in this country that voted for him. Sad thing is that it’s gonna come back to bite us all in some way. However, I’m not gonna allow it to cause me to lose my focus which is on God. God’s got this even though it looks bad in our eyes. God is definitely about to show us that he is in charge. And when all is said and done, God will get the glory because he is the only one I trust to fix this situation.

    November 15, 2016 at 2:12 am

  19. Missy Monet

    Classic case of Stockholm syndrome and battered wife syndrome….

    November 15, 2016 at 4:03 am

  20. Missy Monet

    Classic case of Stockholm syndrome and battered wife syndrome.. Sad..

    November 15, 2016 at 4:05 am

  21. mydomesticchurch

    I want to propose two liberal explanations of why people voted forTrump – and it has nothing to do with racism or sexism. by Michael Moore

    and this one by British commentator Jonathon Pie

    November 15, 2016 at 7:55 pm

  22. Richard Banks

    At first, the press was saying white men only and then the exit polling showed your point. Why were white women blaming the men and hiding behind them. Grow some ovs, sister

    November 15, 2016 at 11:04 pm

  23. Its so sad to read some of the reactions especially those coming from women. Goes to show how important it is what you write and thank you so much for doing so. We’re all racist in someway or another and its so deeprooted in society. Thank you for writing this. One day more people will be more open to this dialogue without resorting to sarcasm or insults. And its because of people like you that that will happen. Keep writing! Much love from Holland ❤️

    November 16, 2016 at 4:00 am

  24. Paris

    People don’t vote because the Electoral College, which is a part of our Constitution, only considers the votes of 12 states, because the white male slave holding forefathers didn’t trust that all Americans were intelligent and capable of selecting the Nations Commander and Chief. Over 200 years later, we are still beholden to this unfair and antiquated process. Unfortunately, there will always be racism and prejudice in this country. People will always find a way to feel better about themselves by minimizing those who do not look or think like them. And, of course the those in charge will do anything to maintain control. So please, stop complaining about it, and be about it. Find some worthy endeavor in which to place your frustrations and disappointments so that we can fix this broken system.

    November 19, 2016 at 6:45 pm

  25. kcwestman

    Thank you for this needed perspective. As a white Christian woman I am opening my eyes to my white supremacy and the incorrect history I have been fed. The churches have failed to teach the love for all that Jesus taught. We must acknowledge these sins and move forward to address changes in our government, laws, criminal system and courts, school curriculum, in other words all of society. Only then can we truly love our neighbor As ourselves And seek justice and mercy for all.

    October 6, 2019 at 4:29 pm

  26. Rhonda White

    I sent a post on Botham Jean to a friend, who loved it.
    After reading she peruses this sight and found this post from 2016.

    I opened it – and closed it right up.

    Here was my response:

    She wants others to be open to change, yet she’s standing her ground with this ‘probably very good, but unreadable’ post!

    She then told me to read the comments below.
    Others had the same sentiment.

    I feel that it’s really inconsiderate for her to write and post this (I’m guessing here) to inspire change – yet be unwilling to be inspired to go back and change the color of this font – even with all of the comments regarding how difficult it is to read.

    Totally unfortunate.

    Rhonda White
    John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach, Speaker and Trainer

    October 19, 2019 at 5:53 pm

  27. Rhonda White

    I sent a post on Botham Jean to a friend, who loved it.
    After reading, she perused her sight and found this post from 2016, which she immediately sent to me.

    I opened it – and closed it right up.

    Here was my response:

    She wants others to be open to change, yet she’s standing her ground with this ‘probably very good, but unreadable’ post!

    She then told me to go back and read the comments (in white font) below, as others had the same sentiment.

    I feel that it’s really inconsiderate for her to write and post this (I’m guessing here) to inspire change – yet be unwilling to be inspired to go back and change the color of this font – even with all of the comments regarding how difficult it is to read.

    Totally unfortunate.

    Rhonda White
    John Maxwell Certified Leadership Coach, Speaker and Trainer

    October 19, 2019 at 5:56 pm

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