Top feminist organizations are plagued by racism, 20 former staffers say

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'Women of color have struggled to find that same sense of belonging at NOW. In the 54 years since the organization was founded, few women of color have risen to its highest ranks. The organization’s leadership has always been dominated by white women, said Katherine Turk, a professor of history and gender at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, who writes about NOW in her forthcoming book, “A Dangerous Sisterhood.” Ten of NOW’s 11 presidents have been white women. Twelve of its current 17 board members are white.

It’s not just NOW. Veteran feminist organizations, led by white women with roots in the second wave, have not made room for women of color, especially black women, according to interviews with 20 former staffers from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) and NOW. Former employees say staffers of color are concentrated in lower level positions, with white leadership shaping organizational priorities that feel largely irrelevant to women who are not white, straight, cisgender, highly educated and upper-middle class. Employees of color were often made to feel like “tokens,” many said, rolled out to show diversity but derided and dismissed within the confines of the office.'

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