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Women's History

Dear Amy,

I am writing an essay on feminism and race. Do you have any ideas about the differences between Caucasian, African-American, and Hispanic women's rights here in America?

I live in a part of the U.S. that it is very clear that a woman of non-Caucasian decent is not respected as much as those who are Caucasian. I am just wondering if it is like this all over America, or if my area is still 20 years back.

Thank you very much.

Shanna

   

Dear Shanna,

Unfortunately, I don't think that your community is unique -- every community suffers from racism. We have certainly made progress over the past 20 years -- for instance, there is a consciousness about race based crimes that didn't exist 20 years ago, plus there is a system to respond to such injustices, like hate-crime legislation. Unfortunately, neither of these prevents the injustices from happening in the first place--and that remains the biggest problem.

Thus far, the women's rights movement has mostly benefited white women. This is a generalization, but white women have fared much better than black women and Hispanic women. On average, white women have high incomes, access to better jobs and better educational opportunities. Black women have made greater gains in these areas than Latinas. For example, on average women earn 76 cents to every dollar earned by a man; African-American women earn 56 cents and Latinas earn close to 50 cents. That's just one example, but I think it does underscore the layers of these issues.

It's important that racism not be discussed only in terms of whites compared to non-whites, but each individual or each group in relationship to others.

I hope that helps,

Amy


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