I was uncomfortable at the #WomensMarch until this happened…
I woke up everyone sleeping in my apartment on Saturday morning and told them to get dressed. I pulled my “Black Lives Matter” hoodie over my head. I grabbed some cereal and coffee and walked to 7th and Constitution with about 10 other people.
I stepped into the sea of pink hats, with my black hoodie on, and felt dread — knowing that while these pink hats could come on and off, my blackness wasn’t going anywhere. I tried to swallow it and be happy, tried to wait for the caffeine to kick in and improve my mood.
I tried to tuck them away but so many questions swirled in my mind like: How many of these women voted? What if this march happened before Election Day in November? Why aren’t Black Lives Matter marches this diverse?
My brother looked at me and said, “You know, now that white women are angry, something is going to get done.” It was supposed to be a joke so I laughed. But the truth in that was chilling and didn’t make walking through the crowd any easier.
I’m not a fan of large groups of people, but I led the group I was with through the thickest part of the crowd, thinking, maybe if I can get a bit closer, I can feel more part of this. I desperately wanted to feel as empowered and inspired as those around me.
We lost over half our group in the thickness of that crowd, and there were just four of us left: an Afro-Latina woman, an Undocumented Mexican man, a Black Queer man, and me (a Black woman, if you don’t know that already.)
We couldn’t take the crowd anymore so we stood on the Mall, awkwardly unaware of what to do next. And that’s when the true feelings poured out — the irritation, the concern, the sheer awkwardness of just being there, the difference in our feminism, the complexities of “picking a side” or issue that we were supposed to feel most strongly about. We admitted to our biases against each other.
It was the most intersectional conversation I’ve ever been apart of.
There were tears and laughter, and anger, and hugs.
We bore our truths, no matter how uncomfortable they were. We found allyship in each other. Angela Davis recently said,
“Once you start thinking of yourself as an individual, everything is scary. There is nothing you can do.”
I struggled these past few months, trying to figure out how I was going to make it through this presidency.
I learned in that moment, that it was community — and not just any community, a community that didn’t require me to “grin and bear it,” that didn’t see my critique as “bitter,” that realized, acknowledged, and embraced my intersectional identities instead of placing them at war.
The comfort of people of color is always sacrificed for the comfort of the majority. We were not the only people of color uncomfortable at that march or any of the other marches across the country who were expected to be happy; expected to join everyone and feel united in the cause, knowing that many of these women had never been to a Black Lives Matter march and that over half of White women voters put Trump in office in the first place.
We were supposed to be happy that people wanted to suddenly join the cause, and that people suddenly wanted to speak out — at least this is what my Twitter trolls told me.
As uncomfortable as that conversation was initially, at the end of it, we were empowered and energized. We found a spot, grabbed some signs, and chanted everything from “Black Lives Matter” to “Undocumented and Unafraid” until our lungs were sore. A white man standing nearby even handed me a bullhorn, and we started all over again.
We got tired, walked towards the march and we chanted again, embracing our intersections and chanting for each other.
I want people to realize that these are the communities we need to build moving forward.
A community that amplifies the voices of those most oppressed instead of ignoring them — realizing that friendship, humanity and allyship are inextricably linked together.