by Aurelia Shippentower
A Poem addressing White feminism from an indigenous perspective.
I had a lot of anger at the actions of a self proclaimed feminist leader who was offensive to a person of color in front of a large group, and then refused to apologize. They said they’d “never” apologize. This woman was also organizing a protest, which she then cancelled for self serving reasons. She opted to meet with the people we were protesting against despite the feelings of many of the members of our group and at the end she didn’t fail to mentioned that she’d be looking for a job once she graduated at the end of this semester.
Many of the details about this specific incident have been left out because this poem is not just about this incident, or this protest, or this white feminist. It’s about all white feminists who believe they are doing good for people of color while not listening to them. Judas becomes a good symbol for them. Another reason I used Judas in the poem was because after letting this woman know that her behavior was reflective of Judas’ actions, she decided to try “reclaim” the meaning by labeling herself “Judas” without even knowing the meaning. I’m no longer a part of that religion, but neither is this woman. As a person who went to catechism against their will, I was offended so I decided to include the bible verses in the poem to reference the real Judas which is obviously unknown to this white woman. As a person of color, I come across these types of people daily. But upon learning that this woman was trying to “reclaim” the meaning of Judas, I decided to write this poem to express my thoughts. Thank you for reading my poem.
JUDAS OF FEMINISM
They called you that name because it fit.
You are the definition of a white feminist,
Selling out to a person in power in hopes of furthering yourself.
In trying to “reclaim” the meaning of Judas,
You may have forgotten some important parts of his story.
The fact that the devil entered his soul,
Which caused him to turn on Jesus,
Leading to his death,
May have slipped your mind.
But maybe not.
Maybe you have someone you listen to unconditionally,
Parroting their words instead of creating your own,
Which has led to your own misguidance.
The fact that Judas sold Jesus out for money,
Probably doesn’t matter much to you,
Since you are doing the same thing,
Only in a different form.
Maybe you don’t see,
That the words you have spilling from your mouth,
The ones that are spent trying to please the people who could be called the chief priests,
Who will soon be Jesus’ murderers,
In the name of respectability,
You have sold out.
The fact that Judas,
Killed himself out of regret because he got exactly what he wanted,
And that it had hurt him more than helped him,
You probably ignored.
We warned you that these would be chief priests,
And have never listened to the people until they were a threat,
And even then they found people like you.
And I promise you Judas,
You will regret listening to them because they are going to cost you everything.
There are some days I fantasize about going toe to toe with you,
Hoping we can settle our differences before you betray the person who can save us.
We all once thought you were one of those people that could help them save us.
The term Judas has entered many languages as a synonym for betrayer.
Is that a title you would bestow on yourself by trying to reclaim it?
Don’t you think,
That given the chance the original Judas would go back and stop himself from betraying Jesus,
Saving his life and the holy child’s?
Now we called you Judas of feminism,
Because you dismissed us we tried to educate you.
Walked away uninterested in what we had to say.
You refused to see us.
As a white person Judas,
Do you have any idea how much hurt you caused us by silencing our voices?
My name is the apostle Queer,
And I told you that what you were doing was dangerous.
My name is the apostle Indigenous,
And I asked that you pay attention to my opinions.
My name is the apostle Two-Spirit,
And you didn’t care.
I know you have heard of white privilege.
You know you are marginalized too.
Your privilege still exceeds mine.
Do you know how it feels knowing that you have so many advantages over me,
By the time you’re 30 your chances of having a job are actually lower than the chances that I am dead in a ditch somewhere,
And your chances are terrifyingly high.
And on the off chance that you went missing,
People would look for you Judas.
You could have fought for us.
You didn’t see the race aspects of not apologizing when we said that you had offended us.
You said that you had only “rubbed” us the wrong way.
That you’d never apologize.
Why even call yourself a feminist if you don’t recognize the things you are studying in real life.
If Jesus is intersectional feminism,
Your sin has mounted him on a cross of internalized racism,
The spikes piercing his wrists and feet are made of your ignorance.
When all is said and done,
Will you have turned your back on intersectional feminism,
In exchange for 30 pieces of silver made of white comfort?
Will you even care?
My name is Aurelia Shippentower. I’m a Umatilla/Lakota person, who has lived on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Yet, I am enrolled in the Confederated Tribe of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. I’m a student at MSUM, in my second year.