On White Female Leadership: Why Kathy Hochul Isn’t the Progress Anyone Needs

Sam McKenzie Jr.
5 min readAug 27, 2021
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul speaking in Albany on Aug. 24. Photo: Angela Weiss/AFP via Getty Images

Kathy Hochul will never be my governor. But that will not stop me from commenting on her leadership. Hochul has made me realize that I can’t celebrate white female political leadership. White women in political office is not the progress anyone needs. I live in a country where a Black woman has never been governor anywhere — ever. Too often white women are the first ladies and the first first ladies. Damn all these types of “white firsts.”

Based on my recent piece “How White Women Got White,” it should be clear that for me white women and white men “occupy the same structural position vis-à-vis a man or a woman of color,” as Frank B. Wilderson III says. If that’s the case, if white women already occupy the same structural position as white men, why do I need white female leadership? It would seem that I already have too much of it.

And we can extend this to business leadership.

In their book “Elite White Men Ruling” Joe Feagin and Kimberely Ducey discuss white women CEOs. They say white women CEOs come from the same class backgrounds as white men. And they make the case that white women CEOs, in particular, “generally behave in important decision-making much like their white male counterparts.”

I think it’s fair to say that white feminism and white female political leadership are rooted in the early intentions and expressions of tomboyism. An article in The Atlantic on the history of the tomboy says, “Amid fears that white people would become a minority as more immigrants arrived and abolition neared, white women were encouraged to lead more active, outdoorsy lifestyles. The tomboy became a perfect cure for white malaise.”

White women are the plan B to white dominance. And that’s why there are some “firsts” we don’t need.

Margaret Thatcher, Theresa May, Angela Merkel, and that lady from New Zealand do nothing good for me. They are still whites. I can’t celebrate white female political leadership, the way I can’t celebrate white gay political leadership. What’s new about it? White identity has always done something for lower-level whites. I will not celebrate white pawns advancing. It is not a victory on my side.