Maine is where I learned what it means to be black, African, immigrant, a woman. Living in one of the least diverse states, I also learned what it meant to be ignored and underrepresented. The black community here is mostly made of vulnerable immigrants from across Africa. As Africans, we don’t get to access to a lot of spaces, so we rely on people in power, like Sen. Susan Collins, to advocate for us.

Watching Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing weeks ago, I found a hero in professor Christine Blasey Ford. A white, privileged woman embraced her power and confronted her assault. Women from all backgrounds rallied behind her, and found empowerment from her story.

But what happened? White men in power rallied against her. She fell victim to the patriarchy, a system where men hold power and women are excluded. Patriarchy feeds on women like Sen. Collins who, even knowing we still have a long way to guarantee women’s safety, still chose to protect abusers.

#MeToo, a movement started by a black woman in 2006, started trending last year because a privileged white woman rallied behind it. It is always about the privileged, using their privileges to pave a way for needed conversations and required change. The privileged need to care and take action.

As a black woman, I once again felt denied the right to exist through Sen. Collins’ decision. If a woman like Dr. Ford, with all her privileges, was treated that way, what about underrepresented women from Maine whose stories many will never hear?

I hate that we have to constantly remind white women how they are gatekeepers of patriarchy. And as a Mainer, I hate that by siding with Ka- vanaugh, Sen. Collins reminded me that I am on my own even if the patriarchy kills me.

Judicaelle Irakoze

Portland


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