Emma Watson on White Privilege, White Feminism & Intersectionality: What We Can Learn From Her by Ann Marie Gardinier Halstead
In 2015, Emma Watson delivered a speech at U.N. Headquarters about feminism. It went viral. Watson has been talking about gender equality and feminism ever since. But she hasn’t just been talking. In 2016, Watson launched a feminist book club called Our Shared Shelf with meetings conducted through a group on Good Reads.
In addition to taking action, Watson has been reflecting on her white privilege and white feminism, after being called out for her lack of intersectionality. In a letter to the club in which she introduces their first read of 2018, "Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race," by Reni Eddo-Lodge, Watson writes, “When I heard myself being called a 'white feminist' I didn’t understand (I suppose I proved their case in point). What was the need to define me – or anyone else for that matter – as a feminist by race?”
Watson recognizes that she hadn’t been asking herself the right questions: “What are the ways I have benefited from being white? In what ways do I support and uphold a system that is structurally racist? How do my race, class and gender affect my perspective?” She freely admits that she didn’t know to ask these questions. She recognizes, too, that, “As human beings ... we all have blind spots; we need people that love us to call us out and then walk with us while we do the work."
I hope that Watson’s self-awareness will inspire others to reflect on their own privilege, positionalities and blind spots. Sometimes we need to recognize that our intentions don’t line up with the impact of our words and actions. Watson clearly recognized that hers didn’t, and she cared enough about the impact to make a change.
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