|Source: Lena Newt|
We are all aware that white women have a problem when it comes to truthfully connecting with women of color, and especially black women. In our societal context, although white women continually advocate for a seat at the table for equality, there are no qualms with being racist to get to that table; and so, when interacting with black women, there can be an imperialist gaze, brought by white men, but utilized in a different form uniquely for white women.
I've observed this when I was on tumblr and within femme circles on the internet. I don't participate, but I do belong to a facebook group called Femme Realness (a sort of safe space for femmes to interact and talk to one another, find deals, etc etc). I am not enthusiastic about it because although it refers to itself as explicitly anti-racist, anti-transphobic, all the antis and calls itself inclusive, I rarely see brown or black women participating except for big names in the femme community - that is not inclusive (Hollywood is not racially diverse if its just Will Smith and Denzel Washington and Kerry Washington and Zoe Saldana are all that are visible). That lack of visibility is incredibly troubling when terms like "realness" are being co-opted from non-cis queers of color to communities that value and prop up cis femme white women. It intensifies the imperialist gaze, which others people of color and turns their culture into commodified props.
Considering white women are indoctrinated into viewing black women as the extremes of non-femininity because they are opposite to white women (pure | evil / soft | hard / light | dark / beautiful | ugly / quiet | loud / virginal | wanton), black women get pathologized*. Because femme identity is subverting femininity by allowing anyone who identifies as femme to use that identity as a hammer against patriarchy and patriarchal creations of femininity, it is only natural (if one lacks or disregards anti-racist learning) that white women see black women's existence as hard femme: if for 500 years black women have been regarded as overtly unfeminine, tough, hard as nails, subversive to white supremacy, yes, white women are going to co-opt that shit, consciously or not. This is why in the #hardfemme tag on tumblr, you can have cis black women doing absolutely nothing and living their lives, or in extremes, black toddlers wearing hairbows and accessories (because black children never just get to be children), and having it be tagged #hardfemme. In the process, black women who actually ID as hard femme rarely get their voices or opinions out in the front, because, largely due to the trend of "group uniform" (which a single group that should naturally have varied opinions gets categorized as a single entity because of the large amount of visibility a small group of people have; i.e., see read tumblr feminists, think "brightly hair dyed pit hair growing flower crown wearing abortion rights wanting capitalists"), erasure happens and they no longer exist or, rather, they exist as mascots and tools for the larger white movement and their needs.
Of course, this goes beyond small movements on the internet. The show Girls, famous for its lack of women of color even as the show is set in NYC, has no qualms about not giving visibility to women of color, even as they play their exotic, "bad" music (Lady's Yankin' and Santigold's Girls), the white lead woc sidekick syndrome, and always being background in advertising, fashion shoots, and cartoons (again, unless they are big stars see Naomi Campbell, Devon Aoki, Alek Wek, etc).
It's no surprise that when the need for intersectionality is pointed out, it gets ripped to shreds, as anti-intersectionality feminists are actually white supremacists.
* It should not be misunderstood that other women of color can internalize racist imagery against black women as well. Everyone is capable of anti-black misogyny.