Like A Girl

Pushing the conversation on gender equality.

Code Like A Girl

An Open Letter to Julie Delpy

She said that it’s easier to be black than to be a woman. I have a few thoughts on that.

Dear Julie Delpy,

At the Sundance Film Festival you described how a few years ago you made a comment about the Academy being very white male and how you were torn apart by the media because of your comment.

If only you had just stopped there.

You continued:

“It’s funny — women can’t talk. I sometimes wish I were African American because people don’t bash them afterward…It’s the hardest to be a woman. Feminists is something people hate above all. Nothing worse than being a woman in this business. I really believe that.”

Allow me to highlight the dangerous, harmful, and divisiveness that stains these comments.

“I sometimes wish I were African American because people don’t bash them afterward.”

This is essentially you, walking up to a man, woman or child who is black, and telling them, “Oof … only sometimes I wish I had your skin color.” You acknowledge the racism and hatred that black people face in America and also manage to be racist in the same breath.

Classic.

“It’s the hardest to be a woman.”

It’s the hardest thing to be a woman or a white woman? Because you’ve already written off black women in your first statement.

The problem is that you only contribute to an overwhelming popular view of feminism: the one where they unconsciously omit black women from goals of equality for all women.

You’re in luck though! Your wish of sometimes wanting to be black has not come true, so you won’t be impacted by statements about feminism that clearly overlook the systemic and institutionalized barriers of racism and prejudice!

Phew! You really dodged a bullet on that one.

“Feminists is something people hate above all.”

Oof. Here’s the thing though. You’re not really a feminist, you’re just a shell of one.

A true feminist doesn’t thoughtlessly write off the difficulties of being a black woman in America.

A true feminist doesn’t get defensive or combative when topics around white privilege and racism are brought up.

A true feminist doesn’t always talk about the patriarchy; they understand that that is something that mostly white women talk about and that minority women tend take into consideration multiple barriers to flourishing.

Spoiler alert: patriarchy isn’t the only answer.

Hint: white supremacy, apathy, America’s greatest shame.

A true feminist knows how to listen well, how to be empathetic, and follows up with action.

Between courage and comfort, a true feminist chooses courage.

“Nothing worse than being a woman in this business. I really believe that.”

Well according to you, it could be worse: you could be black and a woman.

So what happens if you’re black and a woman? I’ll tell you.

You’d be strong.

You wouldn’t have a view of feminism that only appeals to white women.

You’d work harder than all your white peers and still get the same credit — but you know your time will come.

You’d be frustrated when actresses say things that essentially write off all black women.

But you’d continue on, proud that you are a black woman, a fierce force of intelligence, grit, and strength.

Julie Delpy, you couldn’t handle being a black woman. That’d be too much power and elegance for you.

With strength and melanin,

Vivianne