I took the following day off work to process what all of this meant for me. What I concluded was that as an able bodied, African American, college educated, gainfully employed, insured, cisgender, heterosexual woman living in a blue state, not much will change for me. Black people are accustomed to things not going our way. We have been consistently marginalized, and disregarded by the American government since we got here, yet our resilience and commitment to making our presence known and respected in this country has endured. Things have never really gone our way, but this was the swift kick to the balls that told us we really don’t matter. And not only us, but everyone who isn’t a wealthy, heterosexual, white cisgender man, does not matter. It seemed as if time were about to go backwards for every marginalized group that has inched their way towards equality. The fear of this knowledge set in, and everyday since then I have gone back and forth between feeling empowered, and feeling afraid. That pendulum has been swinging back and forth in my mind everyday since the election, and the only thing that seemed to stop it is knowing that I can do something, but I had no idea where to start. I felt even more assured of this possibility after listening to President Obama’s Farewell speech, but again, where do I start?
Then came the Women’s March on Washington. As soon as we caught wind of the march, my friend and I decided we needed to go. She took the lead on planning the logistics, and two other friends came along. I immediately felt this was a good starting point to be an active citizen. It never occurred to me to question the demographics of the march, or the organizers. I just knew that as a woman, and as a black woman, we needed to be there. Then came all of the articles claiming there was drama within the board of women who organized the march, and feminists of color who immediately struck it down because mainstream feminism has never included us. Media about the Women’s March talked ad nauseam about the lack of intersectionality in mainstream feminism. Still, my decision to go never wavered. This could be in part because most of my days include being a minority in whatever space I occupy, so what difference would it make if we are the only 4 black women there? How different is that from every other day of our lives when we are the only few of us in every other space? This march seemed like an opportunity for all women to come together to unite against a common enemy. And then we got there.
I wish I could find the words to describe what it was like, but I’m afraid I can’t fully do it justice. There was so much positive energy, and comradery among the many participants who weren’t just women. There were signs declaring Intersectional Feminism, Black Lives Matter, and Respect Women of Color, and many of them were being held by people who didn’t look like us. There were so many people of so many colors, representing so many different things, but all were there as a united front against one common enemy. It was refreshing, empowering, emotional, and positive. There was a man there with his family, inclusive of his daughter wearing a pink bra over his t-shirt, wearing a sign that read: Hey Trump, Grab This Pussy. A tall white guy wearing red platform patent leather boots and chandelier earrings marched uphill holding a sign that declared he is a queer, environmentalist, engineer who is out and unafraid, and that climate change and science are both real. What an amazing sight to witness how fear can bring us all together for the greater good.
We cannot forget nor forgive that mainstream feminism has excluded women of color. We cannot forget that white women are in large part responsible for the election turn out. Those things will never be ignored. However, we have to start somewhere. With everything that we are at risk of losing, we have to start somewhere. We need allies, and we need to be allies if we are to combat the rush of things that are coming our way, and this is where we can start. The organizers of the Women’s March on Washington have started the 10 Actions 100 Days campaign. Every 10 days, we will take action on an issue we care about. Click here to sign up and to do your part. Everything you need is there. Never forgetting the past, but in the interest of the present and the future, let’s start here.