New York based political writer and commentator, Amy Siskind, is currently being called out for present and past problematic tweets, as well as blocking Black women who ask her valid questions. A fusion of narrow-minded statements blended with a bias towards Black women have put the writer in conflict with her politics, her ties with feminism, and who it is she’s really resisting. Sadly, she represents the white feminism that chooses to endorse political figures who pose threats to Black women, opposed to a true Sisterhood that holds space for conflict resolution, equality, and intersectionality.
Last week Siskind tweeted, “A reminder: we didn’t have neo-Nazi rallies until Trump took office — let alone in the light of day in our nation’s capital! Their hate used to be unacceptable and hidden until Trump came along and legitimized them.” The notion that neo-Nazis and the KKK were hibernating in bat caves until the 2016 election is a popular belief among white progressives. The truth is that neo-nazis and the clan has been fully-functional, hosting parades, operating publicly, and harassing Black Americans, Jewish people, and immigrants, long before the 2016 election. It isn’t the presence of racist hate groups that’s been awakened since 45 was voted in office, it’s the bland awareness of white Americans who are just now acknowledging that these hate groups are present, violent, and vocal. Corrections to her tweet were quick and public.
The discussion of Amy Siskind’s recent tweet lead some to dust off her older political commentary. It was soon discovered that she was once a huge Sarah Palin supporter, bashed president Obama for everything from his golf outtings to not being as pro-woman as Mitt Romney (?), denounced Black Lives Matter, and had several outtings with Steve Bannon… let that last one sit.
Imani Gandi, a senior legal analyst for Rewire, asked Siskind to explain her old statements that she made regarding Palin, Bannon, Black Lives Matter, and President Obama. Rather than receive the opportunity to clarify her opinions, Siskind claimed that she was being ‘dragged’ by haters. Her followers quickly adopted the false narrative and began attacking Gandi, as well as others who questioned Siskind. Many followers flamboyantly spoke down to Black women who challenged Siskind, accusing them of being divisive. While this could have been a golden opportunity for Siskind to do some damage control, she fueled the mob by suggesting that Gandi and others were Russian bots.
In an open letter written specifically to her followers, Siskind explained that her reason for supporting Sarah Palin was that she was a woman. While Sarah Palin is indeed a woman, she has a history of racism, once stating that president Obama ‘pals around with terrorists’. She was also known for fueling toxic masculine tropes (suggesting women quit their jobs when faced with sexual harassment), as well as perpetuating the idea that democrats were to blame for everything from 9/11 to healthcare. Siskind’s ability to overlook such blatant racism and victim shaming is not unlike the 53% of white who decided to vote for the former host of The Apprentice, even though at the time he was guilty of fraud and admitting to grabbing the genitalia of women without asking for permission.
Writers, activists, and celebrities from Ijeoma Oluo to Kathy Griffin joined in attempting to hold Siskind accountable for her dismissal and blocking of Black women.
There’s another issue, one much more deep-seeded than Siskind’s bias against Black women; most white progressive women want Black women to believe they’re on our side, yet, they don’t share any of our political, judicial, or social justice views, struggles, or sacrifices.
Despite her declaration for speaking and advocating for all women, there’s no ignoring the fact that Amy Siskind is a white woman who’s on the list of people who criticized president Obama for playing golf, does not support Black Lives Matter, supported pro-life republican Sarah Palin, and spent a gross amount of time and energy plugging Steve Bannon (going as far as being a guest on his radio show several times).
Siskind tried convincing readers that all of this was done in the name of feminism, going as far as giving herself props for including a trans woman in a 2016 panel discussion, and previously writing about domestic violence and sexism. What was left out of her open letter was an apology to the Black women who were disrespected for simply holding Siskind accountable to her own statements, as well as an explanation on how her beliefs have evolved today and what she needs to do to educate herself on the damage that happens when white women choose whiteness over Sisterhood.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about why so many Black women are distrustful of politics, especially white progressives. Much of the reason is because their goals and focus are often at conflict with that of the Black and Brown community. In the example of Siskind, the political figures she supported in the past are the same ones that many Black women were against, rightly so. Before Bannon was known as a brief member of the 45 regime, he was the mastermind behind Breitbart News, a racially-charged, right-wing bias website known as the darling in the white nationalist world. For whatever reason Siskind believed that Mitt Romney was a bigger ally than President Obama, Romney is a pro-lifer who wished the supreme court would give abortion rights to the states. And, Black Lives Matter, the one Black movement that has productively represented and amplified the causes and injustices of Black people is the same one which she denounced. If there’s any question that her views of the past have nothing to do with her current stance as a feminist and a voice for ‘all’ women, her behavior towards Black women who have challenged her is quite telling. The bulk of Black women who have called her out for her problematic commentary and behavior have either been ignored or blocked. Siskind chooses to respond only to those who agree with her past political decisions, liking and hearting their responses. This is what white feminism looks like when it’s dipped in politics.
Tamela J. Gordon is a writer, Black feminist, and creator of the women’s empowerment group, Sisters with Aspiration, as well as SWA’s Black Feminists Book Club. You can gift books for readers or pay Tamela HERE: To contact Tamela for speaking engagements or creating your own women’s empowerment group, email firstname.lastname@example.org