No one will be surprised to hear that many women of color experience feminism as exclusionary. There were some efforts at a number of levels to make the March yesterday be inclusionary. Women of color, for example, were dominant in the final roster of lead organizers. Now might be a very good time to work on inclusion. In doing do, the kinds of injustices effectively addressed will be increased. And given such efforts, we can all end up in a backed by a more powerful unity.
There are some articles recently looking at racism and the march. Following a recurring line of advice, I suggest we try to listen very respectfully to what people who feel excluded are telling us, perhaps especially those of us who may well not fully understand what checking our white privilege could or should consist in.
Colorlines has some wonderful relevant articles. I’m going to give some snippets from one of the most direct. Everyone really should read the whole piece.
… On the other hand, I’m really tired of Black and Brown women routinely being tasked with fixing White folks’ messes. I’m tired of being the moral compass of the United States. Many of the White women who will attend the march are committed activists, sure. But for those new-to-it White women who just decided that they care about social issues? I’m not invested in sharing space with them at this point in history.
Thus, I am affording myself the emotional frailty usually reserved for White women and tapping out this time. I’m not saying that I will never stand in solidarity with masses of White women under the umbrella of our gender, but it won’t be this weekend. Managing my depression is a complicated daily task, one that will certainly be exacerbated by the presidential inauguration festivities. It won’t serve my own mental health needs to put my body on the line (a body that I believe will invite more violence from Trump supporters than paler attendees) to feign solidarity with women who by and large didn’t have my back prior to November. Not yet. Eventually? Perhaps. But not now.
I’d like to see a million White women march to the grave of Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth or Audre Lorde, or perhaps to the campus of Spelman College to offer a formal apology to Black women. It’s time for White women to come together and tell the world how their crimes against Black women, Black men and Black children have been no less devastating than the ones committed by their male counterparts. Perhaps the Women’s March on Washington will provide the grounds for the level of catharsis required to make that happen. If anyone can plant the seed, it’s Mallory, Perez, Sarsour and Janaye Ingram, the march’s head of logistics. But I just can’t make my way to Washington D.C. this weekend to find out.
Maybe next time.
[Jamilah Lemieux is a writer and the vice president of Men’s and News Programming for InteractiveOne. Follow her on Twitter: @jamilahlemieux]