The BLACK Women’s March On Washington, 2017

An opinion on what the Women’s march on Washington 2017 means for Black Women.

Angela Peoples and her epic sign.

In 1989, Alice Walker stood up in front of a large crowd and delivered her revolutionary poem titled, What Can The White Man Say To The Black Woman?. Today, her piece still rings true as if it were written yesterday. It is something that should have been read, by Walker, at the 2017 Women’s March. Perhaps it would have brought a little light to the underlying situation that is the Black woman’s rights. To top off such an immaculate piece of work written almost 30 years ago, at that very march held back in January, Angela Peoples holds up a sign that says, “Don’t forget: White Women Voted For Trump.”

Co-president of the Women’s march of 2017, Tamika Mallory, stated that, “There cannot be a convening in this nation that seeks to address the issues of women where women of color are not sitting in the front seat leading the conversation.” She also discussed that a component of Black women’s rights is not living in fear that their Black child will be another victim of gun violence. With respect to her position in the organization of the march, it is clear that even Mallory knew that there was a deeper underlying meaning of the march, for Black women.

The piece is a painful wake-up call to the White man, reminding them of all of the things they have done, and currently still do to our Black women and our Black children. These are the same White men who throughout history and even until this very second are making continuous and relentless attempts to deprive us of our reproductive rights. The interesting thing mentioned in the piece and that boggles my brain with this issue today is that they want to make abortion illegal, basically making it mandatory for a woman to give birth to a child if she becomes pregnant. Now for a White woman, and her white child, bringing that child into this world, in this country would not even be half as bad as a Black woman, bringing her Black child into this world, in this country. I mean of course everyone is subjected to, “the depletion of the ozone layer, destruction of the rain forest, the poison water, the poison air and the poison earth.” Everyone would have to deal with arbitrary facets of life like having to get an education, having to work and having to pay taxes. However for a Black child, we have to deal with all of that plus, racism, discrimination, racial profiling, abuse, harassment, unjustified killings, hangings, unfair sentencing, threats, poverty, being targeted, being overlooked for positions, being told ‘no’ for no logical reason other than they assume we are unqualified, need I go on? 
This march was much more than a selfie opportunity, or a hashtag moment for Black women. It was them protecting the life the politicians claim to protect until that life is actually here, and then that life is ultimately mistreated in some way. What is the purpose of a Black woman carrying a child (which #45 says is an inconvenience in and of itself.), nurturing that child, sacrificing her body, her identity, and sometimes her life for that child, for it to be treated poorly by the very people claiming to protect life? I hope that is understood. The Women’s march of 2017 for Black Women was them protecting their investment. We will not, and should not have to bring children in this world for the White man to abuse or kill in the name of self defense or fear.

Walker concludes her legendary piece, by sharing what the White man can say to the Black woman, listing many of the ways in which the White man hinders the Black child’s life in almost every significant category. One of the phrases listed stuck out to me the most because it related to what Mallory dictated as one of the Black woman’s rights. It states, “I will look at your child and see not a threat but a joy.” I feel like that quote brings the entire position of this article to full circle. The White man will make valid attempts to take away our right to abortion, but for the Black woman, they are taking away our right to secure safety for our children. If they can feel as strongly about protecting life after birth as they do before birth, we might get along better. The purpose of the article was to explore what the March for Women’s Rights 2017 could mean for the Black woman and to bring understanding to the fact that we as Black women support women’s rights, wholeheartedly. Nothing else is to be expected, we are women too. However, we advocate for the rights of ALL women, but when it comes to the rights of Women of color, it is typically Women of color who are there for Women of color, and a few very sweet, very noble, very brave, very respectable White women.

Another sad reality is coming to terms with the fact that if this march were geared towards the rights of Black women with the understanding that our rights run deeper than just abortion, it would not have turned out such a huge crowd. It would not have gained so much attention, so much coverage, so much press.

Officers seen hugging and smiling with Women’s Rights protester. No riot gear in sight.
Officers in full riot gear arresting a young, unarmed, non-threatening Black woman.

The officers would not have been as friendly and open to the public. The fact that Black women, and women of color in general were speckled through the crowds of White people, and that they were forced to bring attention to themselves with boldly stated signs, speaks volumes. If we did not give ourselves voices, and make ourselves noticed in this March we would have been lost in the crowd, but the universe only knows that very few others would have taken time to bring light to our situation. If we do not do it, no one else will.