Opinion: ‘Why I’m Skipping the March on Washington’

The Women’s March on Washington scheduled for Saturday is billed on the march’s website as “a grassroots effort comprised of dozens of independent coordinators at the state level.” Among the four national co-chairs are a Black woman, a Latina and a Palestinian American. But the effort to reach across ethnicities to join in opposing Donald Trump the day after his inauguration is not persuasive for some.

The noted columnist, editor and speaker Jamilah Lemieux, explains “Why I’m Skipping the March on Washington” in an opinion piece in Colorlines.

Noting that Trump’s blatant misogyny failed to prevent 53 percent of white women from voting for “a man whose bigotry was, perhaps, his greatest selling point,” Lamieux says that following the election, “a tiny, tiny part of me…felt a tiny, tiny bit of satisfaction” at the keen disappointment felt by white women who supported Hillary Clinton.

But when I learned that some of those women had decided to channel their disappointment into a “Million Women March,” my twisted moment of pleasure quickly gave way to a familiar sense of annoyance. Once again, the labors of Black folks (in this case, the 1995 Million Man March and the 1997 Million Woman March organized by Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam) were being co-opted and erased by clueless White ones. And just what would this “million” women be coming together to march about—their mothers, sisters, homegirls and friends who elected Trump in the first place?

The name of the march did quickly change and a group of women of color that I deeply admire signed on as co-chairs. They are now the face of the event and among its lead organizers. For me, this sparks a few conflicting feelings. On one hand, I think of Tamika Mallory (former executive director of National Action Network), Carmen Perez (executive director The Gathering for Justice), and Linda Sarsour (executive director of the Arab American Association of New York) as living and breathing superheroes. They are the closest our shared home of New York City has to Wonder Woman, Storm and Misty Knight. People who are open to hearing from them and who allow them to lead will benefit from doing so.

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.

Read Lemieux’s full opinion piece in Colorlines to understand her feeling of an “absence of sisterhood” with white women, and what it would take, she believes, to help overcome that.

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