It’s Been 101 Years Since The 19th Amendment Did Basically Nothing For Women Of Color
Start writing a post

In American society's recent discourse, numerous white women around me have daringly contributed a resounding shrug and (soon-to-be-deleted-because-it-disrupts-the-feed) black square Instagram post to apply their privilege in pursuit of protective equity from police brutality.

Don't worry, I'm not about to hop on a cybernetic soapbox to speak on experiences of discrimination that I've never had to encounter. As a white woman receiving higher education, now is not the time for me to snatch the microphone from a person of color.

Instead, this article is not about Black Lives Matter so much as a study of white feminism masked as performative allyship and the history of intersectionality in the eyes of the law, which is, of course, relevant.

Specifically, let's educate ourselves better than the books with Social Issues 101; I'm using the 101st anniversary of the 19th Amendment to display a few systematic ways in which privilege perpetuates within the stories we tell ourselves about movements.

The whitewashed history of feminist suffrage is an old, familiar tune. Growing up, we learned that the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing American women the right to vote, was passed on June 4, 1919. As required by law, at least 36 states had to ratify the amendment for it to be made official. This grueling process took nearly 14 months of protesting and politicking, but the law passed in the nick of time for women to vote in the 1920 election.

Obviously, the 19th Amendment was a critical step forward for our democracy. However, the newfound suffrage law did not concede equal franchisement to all women in the United States. In application, the Amendment ensured the right to vote for white, upper-class women. Women of color, by and large, did not enjoy the same treatment.

For instance, Native American men and women were not even granted considered citizens until 1924, let alone eligible to vote. Furthermore, discriminatory Jim Crow laws in the Southern states manifested through literacy tests and poll taxes that were disproportionately applied to women of color kept black and brown women from fully nationalized suffrage.

It should also be widely learned that the women's suffrage movement eventually decided that intentionally omitting the voices of black people would be the most appealing PR move to advance the 19th Amendment's agenda in the South. What's worse – history's darling suffragist, Susan B. Anthony, considered the 15th Amendment offensive since white women were still barred from voting while black men theoretically could vote. Anthony's strategy in the South featured an argument that white feminism (A.K.A. racism) was a way to maintain white supremacy since white women outnumbered African Americans. Suffragists in Washington, D.C., refused to let black women march alongside them in their parades. The prejudice that women of color faced was two-fold: racist and sexist; schools tend to gloss over this intersection of adversity and intricacy, which excluded black women from the narrative in the past and in the present.

But even as women of color were inordinately denied the democratic process, African American, Native American, and Latinx activists fought for the responsibility to vote. In fact, there were several lesser-known female suffragists of color such as Mary Church Terrell (an advocate and one of the first black women to earn a university degree), Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (an activist writer who published her first poetry book at only 20 years old), Sarah Parker Remond (a lecturer, abolitionist, and agent of the American Anti-Slavery Society), and countless more prolific minds that you can read about here.

Time and time again over the nation's failures in finding itself as an electoral democracy, the freedom of protest has provided an essential voice for minority groups. Those in power may try to discount dissent, but if there is significant and lasting momentum, then the conversation of change finally begins. Such was the case 101 years ago as it is in 2020.

The responsibility to pass on the nuanced and complete story of a movement lies with historians and those with a platform of privilege, like myself. Over a century later, Americans are only starting to reckon in earnest with the complexities of the suffrage movement's victory.

Many of the white women who are thought of as its heroines declined the prospect of fighting for the black women in the cause. Many of the black suffragists faced multiple systems of oppression and died without acclaim. The revolutionary philosophy of progress in a republic allows us to recognize the issues of the past and construct a more inclusive future. One thing is for certain: there is real work to be done in history as it happens today, how will you help beyond image?

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Breaking Down The Beginning, Middle, And End of Netflix's Newest 'To All The Boys' Movie

Noah Centineo and Lana Condor are back with the third and final installment of the "To All The Boys I've Loved Before" series


Were all teenagers and twenty-somethings bingeing the latest "To All The Boys: Always and Forever" last night with all of their friends on their basement TV? Nope? Just me? Oh, how I doubt that.

I have been excited for this movie ever since I saw the NYC skyline in the trailer that was released earlier this year. I'm a sucker for any movie or TV show that takes place in the Big Apple.

Keep Reading... Show less

4 Ways To Own Your Story, Because Every Bit Of It Is Worth Celebrating

I hope that you don't let your current chapter stop you from pursuing the rest of your story.

Photo by Manny Moreno on Unsplash

Every single one of us has a story.

I don't say that to be cliché. I don't say that to give you a false sense of encouragement. I say that to be honest. I say that to be real.

Keep Reading... Show less
Politics and Activism

How Young Feminists Can Understand And Subvert The Internalized Male Gaze

Women's self-commodification, applied through oppression and permission, is an elusive yet sexist characteristic of a laissez-faire society, where women solely exist to be consumed. (P.S. justice for Megan Fox)

Paramount Pictures

Within various theories of social science and visual media, academics present the male gaze as a nebulous idea during their headache-inducing meta-discussions. However, the internalized male gaze is a reality, which is present to most people who identify as women. As we mature, we experience realizations of the perpetual male gaze.

Keep Reading... Show less

It's Important To Remind Yourself To Be Open-Minded And Embrace All Life Has To Offer

Why should you be open-minded when it is so easy to be close-minded?


Open-mindedness. It is something we all need a reminder of some days. Whether it's in regards to politics, religion, everyday life, or rarities in life, it is crucial to be open-minded. I want to encourage everyone to look at something with an unbiased and unfazed point of view. I oftentimes struggle with this myself.

Keep Reading... Show less

14 Last Minute Valentine's Day Gifts Your S.O. Will Love

If they love you, they're not going to care if you didn't get them some expensive diamond necklace or Rolex watch; they just want you.


Let me preface this by saying I am not a bad girlfriend.

I am simply a forgetful one.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

10 Helpful Tips For College Students Taking Online Courses This Semester

Here are several ways to easily pass an online course.

Photo by Vlada Karpovich on Pexels

With spring semester starting, many college students are looking to take courses for the semester. With the pandemic still ongoing, many students are likely looking for the option to take online courses.

Online courses at one time may have seemed like a last minute option for many students, but with the pandemic, they have become more necessary. Online courses can be very different from taking an on-campus course. You may be wondering what the best way to successfully complete an online course is. So, here are 10 helpful tips for any student who is planning on taking online courses this semester!

Keep Reading... Show less

Take A Look At The Extravagant Lane Woods Jewelry Collection For Valentine's Gift Ideas

So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection


Just like diamonds are a girl's best friend, so are pearls, rubies, gold, emeralds, and any type of luxurious jewelry you can get your hands on! A woman is incomplete without a piece of jewelry on her and it is a gorgeous accessory required for all occasions. So if you are currently looking to purchase jewelry for yourself or as a romantic gift for your S.O., you should definitely look at the marvelous and ornately designed Lane Woods Jewelry collection.

Keep Reading... Show less

50 Iconic Quotes From 'The Golden Girls' That Will Always Make You Laugh

"People waste their time pondering whether a glass is half empty or half full. Me, I just drink whatever's in the glass."


"The Golden Girls" created history when it first premiered in 1985 setting the stage of strong-willed female characters who are aging gracefully with dignity. It is a treasure trove filled with humorous scenes and situations that will always be relevant to watch. I still rejoice in watching these spectacular women embrace life with full stride and the way they always strive to focus on the brighter side of life.

These 4 dynamic and awe-inspiring women taught us that age is indeed nothing more than a number and that we can set out to accomplish anything our heart desires at any time.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments