“Marching Forward” is a new series of guest blogs about the demonstrations, protests, and women’s marches that happened during Inauguration Weekend.
I asked women, and women-identifying people, of color if they felt about the march, whether they felt that the march – which initially lacked representation by women of color in leadership roles – met their expectations, and ways that they think people can use the momentum of the weekend to make changes in their community. If you would like to contribute your experiences, please use this form. #WOCMarchingForward
by Rosalyn Lam, who participated in the demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
Dear Pink-Pussy-Hat-Wearing White Feminist ‘Marcher’ who lost their voice for a day,
I’m annoyed. I attended the Women’s March on Washington that will go into textbooks as one of the largest protest in US History. But, I left the march early and felt more frustrated and angry than when I arrived. I’ve been unpacking a lot the past few days– feeling shame and guilt in not feeling united with fellow female-identified individuals, questioning if this is another repackaged form of internalized misogyny. No, trust me, I wanted to feel proud, or moved, or even a little bit emotional at the sheer number of people that were there, but I cannot and refuse to push my frustrations aside.
“I left the march early and felt more frustrated and angry than when I arrived.”
Where the hell were you? History has proven there is immense leverage in collective power, but where were you and your fellow damn white women the day before? If we only had 0.5% of the amount of people at the women’s march, arm in arm, physically blocking angry trump supporters from entering the inauguration, we would’ve actually shut down J20.
Where were all these people when communities in solidarity were at the Movement for Black Lives blockade, at one of many security checkpoints that were being held down, just the day before? You know, the day of the inauguration? Where were they when indigenous folx were holding it down at another blockade, where every breath they take is resistance to a system that wants them gone? When undocumented folx were risking arrest– because when our communities are under attack, we stand up and fight back? Where were you to physically put your white bodies in front of those that are under attack?
“Where were all these people when communities in solidarity were at the Movement for Black Lives blockade, at one of many security checkpoints that were being held down, just the day before?”
During the march, I held a sign that called for intersectionality and a **white man** showed offense and commented, “that’s a bit harsh.” White fragility is real and rampant. And don’t even get me started on the trans-exclusionary signs and sentiments throughout. Vaginas do not equate womanhood. Not all pussies are pink. Not all womxn have pussies.
Oh and another thing, y’all are proud of the fact there were no arrests. Pictures of white women high fiving cops. Taking pictures of police officers in pink pussy hats. You cannot deny that if a march this size centered voices of color, it’d be labeled as a riot. This fight is not new, don’t act like fighting for basic human decency is a novel idea. Black and brown folks, indigenous folks, queer folks, muslim folks, etc have been pushing and resisting since birth.
“You cannot deny that if a march this size centered voices of color, it’d be labeled as a riot.”
“It was a peaceful protest.” It was no protest–protests provoke change by disturbing the comfortable. If you showed me a picture of a breast cancer 5k and the women’s march, I wouldn’t be able to tell you which was which. Voices were heard via pink hats and drawings of fallopian tubes, but let’s be clear, the women’s march did not make anyone uncomfortable. The only discomfort was from marginalized folx drowning in a sea of white feminists.
Let’s not forget 53% of white women voted for Trump to double down on white supremacy. Let’s have real discussions as to why on earth this man got elected as president. The visual point has been made– womxn all over will not be silenced. That’s great. But damn, your feminism isn’t even real if it’s just masked white supremacy.
“Let’s be clear, the women’s march did not make anyone uncomfortable.”
I’m hoping the momentum from the march will wake you up and remind you of your agency to show up. Until I see you at the next Black Lives Matter DC demonstration, SURJ meeting, moving out of the neighborhoods you’re gentrifying, including trans and intersex folx into the conversation, or at an organizing meeting for immigrant protection, I won’t rest in making white folks confront their white fragility and complacency in this system. As a non-black or brown person of color, I understand my positionality gives me agency and I will try and do more to show up and dismantle white supremacy. And that’s what other non-black or brown POC and white folks can do from here on out– show up.
My tolerance for performative white allyship is at an all time low, and today, I’m pledging to burn white feminism to the ground.