This past weekend, I attended the Detroit Sister March in support of the Women’s March in Washington. Filled with mixed emotions, I went alone. The mixed feelings I had festered during the week, didn’t seem to leave once I got there.
We began the march chanting in unison, with silent pockets of people taking in the moment. While we were all in this protest together, it felt as if the march was specifically geared towards the needs of white women. This was further echoed when a question arose on what to chant next, and one lady said, “how about black lives matter, since we’ve done the ‘my body my right one’?” and just before we began, another woman blurted out,”well we should say all lives matter then!” There it was. The lines were drawn. The same invisible lines that divided white feminism from intersectional feminism. It was in that moment that once again the plight of women of color was separate from that of the white women. It was one of the reasons, I didn’t feel the need to rally up any of my friends, or fellow activists of color to attend. We’ve been here before, alone.
Fact 54% of white women voted for Donald Trump, and here we are protesting. It is fair to note that, the women who voted for him, may not be the millions of women who came out. However, 94% of black women voted for Hillary Clinton. A white female. Who was already over qualified, but her sisters, did not see her fit for the White House. When we talk about equality, sisterhood, and women’s rights, doesn’t Hillary Clinton fit into that same category that we were protesting for? As a black woman, I understood this. Regardless of all the long list of problems my community faces, the same problems created by Hillary’s husband, we needed to break the glass ceiling. Even if it meant breaking the ceiling for a white woman who may never understand the plight of marginalized communities.
The rise of feminism was intended for white women and in that moment of protesting those same sentiments were felt by many women of color. The necessity to protest was made when we [the 94%] voted for Hillary. The hypocrisy of some of the protestors aligning their needs only to those who look like them was selfish. Women of color know this all too well. The door always opens for white women first, and yet for the first time the door was almost open, and 54% white women chose to use their vote close it. Could this be because their privilege still allows them a seat at the table, or is it because those women felt that an overqualified woman was not the type of woman to open that door for them? They needed a disengaged, bigot to enforce the same systems of oppression to build a concrete wall above that glass ceiling.
So the mixed feelings are a result of the conflict in my heart as to the efforts we made this past weekend. We had the chance to make history by having a female president. As women of color, we did our part as we always do. We are reliable. This is not debatable – history has proven it. We came out in number where it counted yet we were once again ignored in the march. Ignored? Yes. How? Simply put, refer back to the ‘all lives matter’ comment. You could argue that this was one isolated incident. However, I beg to differ. This is because when we discuss #blacklivesmatter, even in the same context of this March – Black Women Do Not Matter. When we discuss LBGTQIA in the context of this march Black Women Do Not Matter. When we discuss Muslims, in the context of this march Black Women Do Not Matter. Intersectionality – when it comes to feminism – Did Not Matter. If it did, we would’ve have seen those same numbers involved in rebuking the all lives matter creed, anti-[black]muslim rhetoric, anti-immigration banter, bringing awareness to black [female] LGBTQIA communities, and the anti afro-latin agenda. These marginalized communities of women are the same ones who walked side by side to participate in the march.
For this protest to be successful in the coming months, there needs to be a collective, inclusive effort from white women. We need you to pull your weight. Intersectional freedom must be the way to move forward. Use your privilege to drive change and not aid suppressing women of color as they try to drive change through awareness.