January 20, 2019

Category: Real Talk

Still Angry, But Tired of Marching!

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So when do we say enough of the marching and roll up our sleeves and start tackling the actual issues? And once we start tackling the issues and working to make change, why do we keep on marching year after year? I thought about these two questions a lot this past month leading up to yesterday’s #WomensMarch2019. In 2017, it felt absolutely necessary and urgent and cathartic to march the day after 45, with his anti-people of color, anti-immigrant, anti-abortion, anti-woman rhetoric, was sworn in. That year, not only did I march in NYC with Lady Parts Justice League– the repro rights nonprofit where I work, but we hosted an amazing and super impactful activist fair where people signed up to work with organizations on specific campaigns and where we also hosted a conversation with myself and other Black women movement leaders on the importance of inclusivity and intersectionality in sustaining thriving movements. Last January, I went to a pre-march rally and then went straight home passing march goers all the way back uptown.

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This year, I did not rally and I did not march. Marching every year under the same banner for the same issues has just lost its punch on me. After working most of this past week in DC, I got back yesterday morning and I just slept. After all the reports of infighting about trademarks, the lack of diversity (the NYC Women’s March leader tokenized a Black woman at the 2017 March so frankly, I’ve been done since that inaugural year), and the ongoing claims of anti-Semitism (let’s be clear, many, if not most, Black women feminists have had problems with the NOI on issues the mainstream media is not even addressing now, specifically their homophobia and Elijah Muhammad’s problematic sexual relationships w/ young Black women/ teens) so needless to say, I wasn’t inspired to march yesterday. Honestly, I feel like the need to pull out those pink pussy hats and Handmaid’s Tale bonnets and make beautiful, witty, rage-y posters is what’s currently driving people to march. I hate to even say it, but it’s starting to feel like Fashion Week for the newly woke and veteran activists alike. The wittiest signs and the snarkiest t-shirts were copping the most likes and driving social media likes, not the issues. It’s a serious spectacle. SERIOUSLY, WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH THAT PINK HAT?!

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And I’m kinda disgusted by the fact that I see all these women and all this solidarity for one day in January, but where are all these excited and enraged women (and men) the rest of the year? Do you know someone actually made a custom pink pussy hat for the Harriet Tubman statue in Harlem last year? I immediately went to remove it, but thank God someone had beat me to the punch. Harriet Tubman had a shot gun, a radical vision for liberation and the courage to be the conduit for that freedom. She did not need a pink pussy hat in 1850, and she sure as hell did not need one in 2017! The time and energy that went into making that hat and scaling that statue, just blew my mind!

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To further my skepticism about this march and it’s impact particularly on issues regarding Women of Color and Queer and Trans women, a month or two after the Women’s March last year, a call went out on Facebook and Twitter to join a #MuteRKelly protest in NYC in front of a club where the singer was making an appearance. I showed up to see about 25 other Black women. For all the signs I’ve seen at every Women’s March that state, “Listen To Black Women,” there were no pink pussy hats, no white women, and no men at this rally. Not only are folks not listening to Black women, they are not even trying to seek out their voices! What if the Women’s March participants, instead of knitting hats and marching, used that same energy, time and resources to instead descend on the state of Florida, for example, and register the thousands of previous felons now eligible to vote; or what if thousands volunteered yesterday as a clinic escort at their local reproductive health facility; or what if we literally liberated thousands of women on this day by donating to the bail fund for low income women sitting in jail for petty crimes because they don’t have enough money to make bail? Now that would make Harriet Tubman proud! What if we’ve had enough of the marching?

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