15/08/2013 11:28 BST | Updated 14/10/2013 06:12 BST

Why #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen Went Viral in 24h

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One of the most fascinating things about Twitter is its power to open the floodgates to long held-back frustrations in just a couple of clicks. Since Monday, the hashtag #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen is causing a frenzy all over the social network, sometimes at a rate of 50 tweets per second.

Starting off as heated discussion between Mikki Kendall and her followers over Hugo Schwyzer's abusive behaviour, the hashtag went instantly viral in all five continents.

Now it looks like thousands of netizens were waiting for this moment to shout their exasperation against a colour blind brand of feminism.

Their point isn't about denouncing discrimination against women of colour in the workplace, media, shops, culture, schools or universities - that has already been done. The hashtag stroked the nerve of Twitter users who were for a long time putting up with some white feminists' hypocrisy when dealing with gender issues.




It doesn't take long to find everyday examples. How many Western feminists are proud of defending women's interest, yet they don't bat an eye when buying clothes made by disadvantaged women in Asian sweatshops? Or hiring (and underpaying) a woman of colour to take care of their children so they can return to work? How often do the media ignore reporting criminal cases when the victim is "only" a woman of colour?

Since the1970's, many black feminists have argued that women of colour experience a more intense kind of discrimination, combining sexism, racism, and class oppression. According to the Twitter posts, little has changed. Mainstream feminism seems to be stuck in a time warp of class and racial abuse.




Yet it's striking how many women and men found this thread offensive, racist or simply depressing. Many said they felt uncomfortable discovering their 'white privilege'. For others, the self-glorifying idea of being a hero in the war against gender oppression was shattered when confronted with the racial discrimination that millions of women of colour experience every day.





But probably the most important thing about #solidarityisforwhitewomen is that it finally says clearly that women are not one homogeneous group, as they are often referred to by feminists, economists, and politicians. It is the birth of a forum where all feminists have the opportunity to discuss, listen and learn from each other. It enforces the idea that discourse about gender equality needs to move beyond the patronizing approach that some white Western feminists are promoting worldwide, ignoring their own racial and class bias.

Whilst it started off as one single tweet, #solidarityisforwhitewomen is becoming a wave that remarkably shook the world of feminism - and it was about time.