Well, I finally attended a version of the Women’s March. I went because my mom invited me and I had been on the fence about going for multiple reasons. It was a long and tiring event with my toddler – who thought it was the best thing ever aka hyper-sensory overload with a huge crowd to try and get lost in and give her mama a heart attack.
I remember when I heard about the first Women’s March in Washington D.C. that was through some relatives – not any people of color that I knew or even the local Muslim community was aware that this march was really going down until it started to get major media attention. Once the Women’s March got major media attention, it was too late for it to be affordable for most women in minority communities to attend if they desired to.
Going to the Oakland Women’s March I knew again I would be again encountering feminism defined by white women. I had to steel myself to the othering I knew I would experience and quite frankly almost turned over and slapped my alarm off to go back to sleep instead of going the morning of the march.
Instead, I went and I feel my feelings are justified by what I saw and experienced.
The Women’s March is for white feminists.
It was clear in the sea of white faces I encountered. It was clear based on the signs topics that minority community issues were not present just as it was clear in what bodies of specific communities were not present.
Is it better than nothing? Yes. Can white feminists do better? Yes.
However, the work to make space for communities and voices of color and other minorities is NOT the work of those communities but the work of the white feminist community.
Just as the work to remove systemic racism and discrimination as evidenced by how many white women and men vote for Trump’s blatantly racist discriminatory platform – is NOT the burden or work to shoulder for minorities.
Which is why I ended up closing down the chapter of Indivisible that I started in my small bedroom community and I stopped putting my energy and efforts into local politics because nothing will change until room is made at the table.
White activists are not interested in making room that is clear by when and where they host their meetings and how they do not invite the communities of color or organizations to the meetings nor amplify PoC work as they in their personal lives participate in the gentrification of these poor communities of color.
Too long I have heard too many white people say things that make it clear they are not woke to the reality that minorities in America experience on a daily basis.
There is always an excuse to be made for the usually white aggressor.
“He feared for his life.” Says the man with a gun having been trained at the police academy which includes hand to hand combat against an unarmed black body
“It’s company policy or I was just doing my job.” To explain why a minority is followed in a store or hired then fired for wearing their natural hair or covering in the case of a Muslim woman.
Coded racism is the most insidiously dangerous form within America. A white person does not have to mention African American or black – one can simply for example well they love their chicken and watermelon to signal they are talking about black folks. Why is it we as a community and society unable to talk openly about the reality of our history and present state?
Facts are facts. Our nation was founded on stolen land that we got through broken treaties and using germs, guns and steel in combination with the enslavement of an entire community of people based on the color of their skin. Divine right is what people in the past told themselves to sleep better at night just as people tell themselves they are saving a community and improving property values as have city councils ban tent cities, public toilets and living in RV/Tiny Homes during the gentrification half of the white flight cycle.
We Americans squirm a the thought of having an open dialog about this and other topics. The reason it is so difficult to talk about is because we avoid it at all costs. Ownership of the atrocities committed in “order to create a more perfect Union,” has never been taken by those who gained and continue to gain power and privilege from those acts.
You reader, if you are an American citizen from the white community are not personally at fault for historical atrocities although perhaps your ancestors are. You reader from the white community are at fault for not 1. Acknowledging you benefit from a system designed to oppressed and disenfranchise others, 2. Doing nothing to change the system and 3. Not leveraging your privilege for those without it.
I think is speaks volumes that my government can apologize and create a memorial for Japanese American internment victims which happened during World War II but a National Museum for African American history lagged so long before it was even completed and opened. Hell no one from the United States government has ever apologized to the African American community and African nations for slavery.
Why is that? The United Nations recently declared that the United States of America should pay reparations to the African American community.
See the article here on PBS.com -https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/reparations-african-americans-un
I personally think the Restorative Justice model of handling conflict resolution would be the best way to handle the dialog about slavery in the United States.
Community of color have enough on their plates without also having to bare the burden of solving the white community’s love for racism and discrimination. Let’s name a few of these issues the communities of color are dealing with:
1. Immigration – the lack of a path to citizenship for DACA recipients and unaccompanied minors and why documented immigration is so freaking expensive and takes so damn long.
2. Poverty – After more than 200 years of slavery of course the African American community didn’t have the generational wealth of the White community. This has continued to be cited as one of the biggest barriers to African American community moving towards societal gains.
Indigenous Americans continue to face the affects of poverty and inability to own the very land they live on in the Reservations.
Poverty is linked to the issues of substance abuse, “broken” families, crime, over all health (mental and physical), food security, violence and education that create a further uphill battle to break the cycle and culture of poverty within all communities of color.
3. Systemic Racism – There is nothing that highlights this issue more than the mortality rate for African American women in the United States. There are no “protective,” factors i.e. Education, income etc that can save a black women when she is pregnant or giving birth than being cared for other than being in the care of other black women or men.
See the ProPublica article here – https://www.propublica.org/article/nothing-protects-black-women-from-dying-in-pregnancy-and-childbirth
The organizers of the Women’s March have a long way to go before its what it could be.
Participants in the Women’s March have a long way to go before they are what they could be.
Concrete changes would be-
1. Minority voices speak first. Why were they all the last to speak in Oakland?
2. Outreach to minority communities are i.e. The local church, Community Colleges, Masjid, connect and work with the local PoC organizations doing the work that was being done long before 45 got into office. I saw or heard nothing via my community connections. Why is that?
3. Create asks for concrete actions that those attending should do besides get out the vote for more majority “progressive” white candidates. Communities of color will see this as poverty pimping if you are not actually supporting their work and issues in a real way with tangible results for these various communities.
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”