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Saving Hannah and Holly? (The Handmaid’s Tale)

This post pertains to the S2 finale of The Handmaid’s Tale, entitled The Word.

June’s decision to stay in Gilead is being dissected on the intersectional THT discussion group I belong to. A woman of color (who I’ll call W1) pointed out that June would be leaving her multiracial daughter behind if she escaped Gilead with Holly/Nicole, who is ostensibly “white.” A white woman (who I’ll call W2) responded.

june hannah handmaids tale

W2:  “Geez, that’s not the way I see it at all. I don’t think anyone feels that way because Hannah is biracial. I don’t think anyone felt she shouldn’t rescue Hannah it’s that some feel she could do more for her on the outside. Personally I would have done as June did. The infant will be fine with Emily and I’m sure locating her later wouldn’t be impossible. I could never leave a child behind.”

This is the whole point of participating in an intersectional discussion group–specifically, in this case, about The Handmaid’s Tale.

W2 took her own feelings and projected them onto, basically, the entire world, saying, “I don’t think *anyone* feels that way because Hannah is biracial.”

Well, who is this “anyone” to whom you refer? Specifically, I mean.

Look, there’s nothing wrong with exploring how a mother feels about a topic like this. I can see how a mother might think like a mother, first and foremost. And women of all colors are mothers too.

But consider the fact that women/mothers of color NEVER have the luxury of not thinking about how color matters in a society that assigns maximum value and privilege to “whiteness.” And as the pale-skinned mother of a multiracial child, June had to learn how to think about this in order to secure, to the best of her ability, her daughter Hannah’s well-being in the world.

I have actually heard pale people opine that it is “selfish” to bring a multiracial child into the world. To which I say,

What. The. Actual. Fuck. 

Multiracial parents and their children are NOT the problem. The problem is that far too many pale people have enshrined the invented concept of Whiteness as a moral, social, and financial imperative.

Intersectionality is about realizing how people who meet Whiteness’s arbitrary standard assume the world is one way, and then we STFU and *listen* to people of color (POC), and gay people, and trans people… all kinds of people who we had othered as part of the system of Whiteness. Then we learn that there’s a whole world going on outside of Whiteness. And it’s an often unpleasant and deadly world for those who don’t meet the arbitrary standard of Whiteness. 

Intersectionality is NOT about “eliminating white people,” as some confused and angry and probably stupid people believe. Y’all are being lied to. But I do think it’s high time we stopped using the invented concept of “whiteness” as a measure that dictates power and privilege.

“Whiteness” is hurting all of us–so-called “white people” included. People of European descent are also being robbed of financial and social capital as well as cultural uniqueness by what I call the Whiteners. I wish more people with any portion of European descent would clue in to this fact.

scary trump peopleI wish Trump’s supporters in particular would clue in to this fact. Because they don’t even seem to realize how the Whiteners have stolen, and continue to steal things from those of European descent. And as long as they stay stupid to how the Whiteners are continually stealing European culture from them, they’ll continue to be puppets.

Here’s the thing:  The Whiteners will always throw just enough red meat at Trump’s supporters to slake their hunger for a moment. Look also at how Trump’s supporters always get so hungry again so soon for the next bleeding hunk of flesh.


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