The Hart of the Matter: White women must be held accountable for racism


rom the spike in hate crimes following the election to the bloody rally in Charlottesville, the United States is facing a severe internal threat in the form of white supremacy.

The blame largely goes to white men. Look at any picture of a supremacy rally or a KKK meeting and you will see a crowd of white males. However, this has created a picture of racism that is not fully accurate.

The supremacists behind the wall of safety created by false public perception are white women. It is unacceptable for white women to be able to hide behind a false image of what a racist looks like, free from accountability. White women must also be culpable for their racism.

In truth, white women have a large impact on the white supremacy movement. While it is hard to pinpoint actual numbers, expert George Hawley, professor of political science and author of Making Sense of the Alt-Right, estimates about 20 percent of white nationalists are women. Going back into history, about half a million women were members of the KKK during the segregation era.

Look at some of the most important moments in the civil rights movement, such as the Little Rock Nine or Emmett Till, and you will see the role of female racists: Emmett Till was brutally murdered for supposedly whistling at a white woman, who later admitted she lied, and one of the most iconic photos in history depicts Elizabeth Eckford marching into Little Rock Central High School with a group of livid white women screaming behind her.

These historical events are relevant because they exemplify the contributions of white women to a system of racism that white supremacists are aiming to restore and uphold. White women are not absent from the past of racism in our country, and are certainly not removed from the future of the matter.

In the recent election, 53 percent of white women voted for Donald Trump, a well-known and still shocking fact. Many would assume the misogynistic comments from Trump would have deterred most women from casting their vote to him, outweighing their racial ties.

This may be due to the fact that Trump built his campaign on racial resentment and fear.  White women may suffer under misogyny, but they certainly benefit from white privilege.

Today’s headlines show white nationalist after white nationalist being fired from their jobs or losing their families for their heinous beliefs, a hopeful sign that society is no longer tolerating the racist ideals of the past. However, white women are largely free from this dialogue.

It is imperative that as our culture moves towards tolerance and against bigotry, we do not allow for anyone to slip through the cracks. Society needs to hold white women accountable for their racism as much as men, or America will continue to be a breeding ground for racial bigotry.