WE ALWAYS SHOW UP: My Thoughts on the Women's March Before, During, and After.
A lot of words get thrown around during a social justice movement. Here are some of them:
a form of feminism that emphasizes women's natural contribution to society (used by some in distinction to the term feminism and its association with white women).
Author Alice Walker originated the term Womanist in her 1983 book In Search of Our Mothers’ Garden: Womanist Prose. Walker defined a womanist as “Womanish, the opposite of girlish…Being grown up…A Black Feminist or Feminist of Color…A woman who loves other women, sexually and/or non-sexually. Appreciates and prefers women’s culture, women’s emotional flexibility (values tears as natural counterbalance of laughter), and women’s strength. Sometimes loves individual men, sexually and/non-sexually".
the interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.
It is a term first coined in 1989 by American civil rights advocate and leading scholar of critical race theory, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw. It is the study of overlapping or intersecting social identities and related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination. Intersectionality is the idea that multiple identities intersect to create a whole that is different from the component identities.
Before (the march)
Before the march, I saw many black women discussing the things they would rather do than join in on this march. A lot of what they talked about positively impacts our community. They saw where the work needs to be done, and shared with others where they would be doing it. See, the issue is this: black women have been made to feel like feminism is not for them. In fact, for many black women, feminism is yet another form of white supremacy. That's a reality.
For that reason, organized events like the Women's March on Washington have trouble convincing black women to join. This is not an attack on white women. This is a criticism and challenge to white women that support cis-women/Human/Civil/LGBT rights to recruit our sisters to the world of empathy and understanding. That can be done by acknowledging the contributions we (and other women of color) have made to the fight for equality, by talking about the division between womanism and feminism, and by teaching our daughters that inclusivity means more if it's not only written on a poster board. If you're interested in learning more, this will be a featured topic on Nyla's Black History Facts Newsletter syllabus for 2017. You can sign up here: Newsletter sign-up.
I understand feeling like no matter what you do, or how hard you work, you are still kept on the outside. For some of us, it is hard to put sisterhood first when we are left to our own devices when other issues come up. The gravity of our experience as women goes far beyond a march. We have to talk about the deeply ingrained biases that allow you to march here and tell us to be quiet and on our best behavior elsewhere.
However, I did not want to assume anything about this march - so I made sure to go. Because really what we do is show up. It's important that we keep showing up - no matter what.
During (the march)
During the march, I was committed to finding black faces in the crowd. I had to search, but I found them. I did not ask why they were there, or what their thoughts were about critical gender theory. I just asked if I could photograph them for my blog.
We marched half-a-mile to City Hall and listened to the organizers speak. The march itself was strangely quiet at times. Maybe we were all bewildered at having to be here again. There was no unifying chant as we walked, and certainly no disturbances. Yet, I still felt a certain amount of adrenaline creeping up in me. Something that made me feel both ready to fight, and a little better about things.
I found many women committed to inclusivity. I heard (not saw, because I am super short) some voices of color - though I would have liked to hear from more women of color. Houston's mayor, the director of Houston's NAACP, and someone from Houston's Urban League spoke briefly, but those are all black men.
After (the march)
I did not march because HRC did not win. I marched because I needed to see with my own eyes that I am not outnumbered. I did not march because I am entitled. I marched because I want to live peacefully, not regretfully. I did not march because I do not respect the presidency. I marched because I respect it too much to have it made a mockery.
I wish there had been more talk of action. I wish it was less of a pep rally, and more of a direct call to action. I wish we had been told what bills to vote down, who to contact when, and where to go for more information.
I am glad to have been able to join my community in solidarity. I am glad to have been introduced to our first Phyllis Frye, our first openly transgender judge in Texas. I am glad that I went.
Either we ask for inclusion and participate in it, or we continue to nurture the divide. We are talking about inclusivity more than we ever have before, and that's the goal. Do not discourage people from sharing their truths by tone policing, or asking them to just "work together" in hopes they will stop making your feel uncomfortable. When you silence people who are willing to challenge the status quo, you end up in a state of complacency.