I have remained largely silent about the Women’s Marches. This is because I avoid speaking negatively about women of color’s (and in particular Black Women’s) efforts. At this point, this merely warrants the following disclaimer: I recognize that Black Women that I respect are involved in elements of the march’s organization. This is not enough for me to join hands with white women who would probably try to avoid holding my hand in favor of some white woman’s. I love you Black Women. The end.
First – It is purposefully policed.
I will never jump to participate in what I refer to as a sanctioned or permitted march. It really doesn’t make sense that I would ask to demonstrate my dissatisfaction especially since one of my primary concerns is the policing of people in this nation. Why would I go to a purposely policed demonstration? In case you aren’t following, I would not. Every single issue “we” (we are going to discuss that “we” soon) should be concerned about will use law enforcement agencies to upkeep them. This includes, reproductive health, marriage accessibility, education, immigration, disenfranchisement, racial profiling, etc. The simpleest thing we can do is demonstrate that we will NOT participate in that system.
Second – White women are how we got here.
…“American women of wealth, education, virtue and refinement, if you do not wish the lower orders of Chinese, Africans, Germans and Irish, with their low ideas of womanhood, to make laws for you and your daughters … awake to the danger of your present position and demand that woman, too, shall be represented in the government!”
Elizabeth Cady Stanton
Statistically white women showed up and out for Trump. This is not surprising (to me) since white women have historically been complicit in the patriarchial/racist policies of this nation. EVEN during suffrage, white women showed up and out against the women literally debating for the right to vote. The white women debating purposefully excluded Black Women physically and ideologically. Hence, when white women say “women,” Black Women hear “white women.”
We continue to see the unwillingness of white women to include Black Women, Indigenous Women, and Women of Color in their “women.” Look at the comments of those showing their white fragility. See how quickly you see language of “them” (because we were never included), “divisiveness” (because we aren’t really together), “their sisters” (because we aren’t all connected), etc. Notice that these comments come when it is pointed out that “women” do not all have the same concerns, issues, experiences, or privilege. If we cannot just be “women” (read: white women, preferably with middle class upbringing and desires and hetero performance though we will make exceptions for the right kind of white) then, we cannot be part of “women.” We are then the wrong kind of woman of course due to our own fault. Suddenly, despite the history and evidence, WE (the wrong kind of women.. the ones not included in “women”) are how we got here. Ha. No.
White women are constantly given opportunities to do better. This march was one though it was side-eyed for being too little, too white, and too late at the outset. Brittany T. Oliver explained it in her open letter to organizers in November.
By centering the middle-class white cis-woman experience, the march is being used as a way for Women of Color to show their allyship to white women. PERIOD (I reiterate) This is how white women have organized for centuries. This is what is being forced when white women suggest that we all need to fall in line, forget our differences, consider all point of views, and so on. I guarantee that many white women didn’t even notice that Trump is racist. Cool. Moving on.
Three – The proliferation of the word “unity” where there is none.
Another common rebuttal to mention of exclusion and white washing ( if you don’t understand what white washing is try these articles:
What are we celebrating: What everyone should know about intersectionality and history By Inda Lauryn
White Women Still don’t know how to address Intersectional Feminism By Jaimee A. Swift
You should gather by now that there has NEVER been a movement of white women recognizing their complicity, rejecting said complicity, and thereby standing with but slightly behind Women of color. Rather there have been numerous points throughout time where Black Women, Indigenous Women, Chicanas, transwomen, disabled/neuroatypical women, etc have been called divisive for mentioning the distinctiveness of our woman-ness. By suggesting that our specific issues are all of OUR issues.
Considering this history, the rebuttal that “NOW is the time that we stand together” is laughable (AT VERY BEST). Says who? OH, my bad. White women are calling this show.
Unity means recognizing the importance of centering the MOST marginalized and vulnerable amongst us. If we can meet those needs, we will all be set. It’s simple. If we ensure that systems (bleck) and policies (also bleck) provide for the most marginalized, we know that we will be provided for as well. So to suggest that rather we should think about the inflated masses of white women (because seriously yall are not as many as you think) is misinformed, proven wrong by experience, and as harmful as your new nemesis Trump. This leads us smoothly to number four.
Four- There is this delusion that Hillary would have SAVED (capitalized in case y’all will look up white savior on your own as an added lesson) us
To be clear, she would not have. Amongst the numerous reasons for this is the fact that there would have NEVER been a national march headed by white women (even in this ridiculous sanctioned way) to hold her accountable or to emphasize OUR dissatisfaction. So just because there is a nemesis worthy of many women investing heavily in the airline industry, y’all think I’m going to show up and fall in line. No. Many of us have been demonstrating long before November 9th, 2016. Did you show up?
Five – What are they doing now? Waiting for a march.
The march is not for another 9 days and while many are gripped in anticipation, it appears that this march is considered a springboard. Again because white women have been given numerous opportunities to do better, they could have and SHOULD have used many other events as their spring board. I would have side-eyed but accepted the seemingly preferred November 9th. However, white women did not decide then and there that they were done standing by doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Instead they said, ‘let me wait a couple of months and THEN I will show them. ‘
Fortunately, some of my favorite white people are organizing and acting already. They are hosting and sharing bystander intervention trainings because honestly white folks better intervene if I get messed with in target again. Or at the airport. Or casually in line anywhere white people are. My defense of myself is vital to my survival but also exactly what may get me killed. So you and your whiteness need to say something. You also need to NOT call the police. Others are organizing around maintaining some of the political progress (if that farce is even a thing) already made (including regarding healthcare, education, marriage accessibility, decriminalization of Black and brown bodies, etc). Others are hopelessly but with determination trying to embed some integrity into these marches. Organizers are shifting and apologizing (as they should). However, in the wake of their growth are white women eager to defend them and reinforce their prior ignorance. If those women can feel comfortable in those spaces there is no way that I will.
While I am used to being uncomfortable, I refuse to put myself at risk for this false unity. Policing of people of color and in particular Black women does not stop with formal law enforcement. Rather, people police each other. White women have been the catalyst for the formal policing of Black men and Women throughout history. This march may be no different. I have seen discussions of “prohibited signage” and the emphasis on “peaceful.” Nah. I’m good.
As a steadfast Black Feminist, I will always recognize the harms of patriarchy for all. However, advocating for/around the white woman’s experience is not a feminist approach. It leaves in place the parts of patriarchy that permanently intersect with racism and other forms of oppression. I will not reinforce that as an appropriate approach. But do not despair white women, Black Women will always be organizing, resisting, and rebelling.
Power and Love,