An Unpopular Opinion on the Women’s March on Washington

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators gathered for the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday. Credit: Chang W. Lee/The New York Times

Maybe I had my hopes up too high when the Women’s March on Washington released a platform so great for reproductive justice, economic justice, racial justice, criminal justice, and gender justice that the Huffington Post lauded it a “Beautifully Intersectional Policy Platform” and Slate called it “Unapologetically Progressive.” Maybe I was wrong to expect white folks to fight for me when they enthusiastically chanted “This is what diversity looks like” while carrying signs ranging from “Love (not hate) makes America great” to “Hate has no home here.”

However, if there were intersectional unity at the Women’s March on Washington, I failed to see it. Rallying for four hours on the corner of Independence Avenue and 7th St. SW with over 500,000 self-identifying feminists from across the United States created in and of itself a microcosm of white feminism that I thought would be suppressed — even just for one day for the sake of racial harmony.

I understand that the crowd can get weary after standing for hours on end in the cold with no room to move forward or backward. I understand, too, that they can get antsy when they came to march but the speaking program went over by an hour and a half. In spite of what supposed to be an incredibly inspiring moment for me in seeing black and brown folks leading the movement, it quickly turned sour by the impatience and disrespect from white folks throughout the rally.

If there is an article about 7 ways you can tell whether or not you are a white cisgender able-body feminist, it was written at the Women’s March.

1. Did you chant along when we chanted “Black Lives Matter”?

2. Did you think it was nice to hear from the Mothers of the Movement but felt uncomfortable when Janelle Monáe asked you to say the names of victims of police brutality in “Hell You Talmbout”?

3. Did you cheer for Cecile Richards and Ilyse Hogue but turned your back on Jessica González-Rojas, Sung Yeon Choimorrow, and Monica Simpson?

4. Did you chant “March, March, March” over Angela Davis but was just so excited to hear from Madonna?

5. Were you the white woman who upon seeing the sign “Asians 4 Black Lives” lamented loudly, “But our lives matter, too”?

6. Did you repeatedly ask a group of Asian folks, “But really, where are you from?”

7. Did you walk over and push aside people in wheelchairs because you wanted to be at the center of the March?

With 58% of white people voted for Trump, if you did not come to the Women’s March to listen and learn from people of color, what did you come here for?

As I write this, I know that the Women’s March on Washington is a historic and uplifting event for many people. Many were politically activated for the first time because they saw their lives and the lives of the people they love on the line. Many will take actions, sign petitions, donate, and even run for office. I’m not trying to take this moment away from you. Continue to stand up and fight back.

However, I know this much is true: when your feminism and liberation are not only rooted in but thrive on my oppression, you are not my sister and I do not stand with you.

Intersectional white feminists, come get your sisters.