Reflections on The Women’s March
On January 21, 2017, at almost 700 demonstrations across America, millions of Americans gathered with one goal in mind: to protest the election of Donald Trump, a day following his election. Armed with empowering signs and catchy chants, people of all ages congregated to voice their support for women’s rights, immigration reform, LGBTQ rights, and many more important issues, in the face of a new president who has been openly sexist, racist, and homophobic. However, although the organizers and marchers may have been well intentioned, the Women’s March remains tinged with white feminism and exclusion of people of color, a simple band-aid solution to a complex problem.
Initially called the Million Women March, the protest’s name seemed incredibly reminiscent of a 1997 march of the same name in Philadelphia, founded by black women, hoping to bring important issues of their community to light. The name change to the Women’s March on Washington also resembled the historic March on Washington in 1963, culminating with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. Both renamings clearly appropriated important events in black history, another example of a movement led by white people eclipsing black culture. Additionally, the leaders, three white women, only added people of color to the organization and planning committee after backlash surrounding the event’s lack of diversity and intersectionality, a controversy that even caused several organizers to step down.
Not only are the leaders of the Women’s March problematic, the motivation of most of its supporters are as well. Although the causes behind the Women’s March are commendable, the millions of protesters congregating nationally begs the question: why didn’t this occur earlier? Obviously, the election of Donald Trump wasn’t the catalyzing point of all discrimination, so why didn’t this many people march before? Where were all these anti-racism, anti-sexism supporters during movements like Black Lives Matter or the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline, not to mention, the fact that no one was arrested at the Women’s March, whereas protesters at the aforementioned demonstrations were met with tear gas and rubber bullets? Where was the media coverage lauding the efforts of those movements that was all over the Women’s March? After looking at these major discrepancies between the movements, the message behind the Women’s March seems less meaningful -- an opportunity for an Instagram photo, rather than a chance to make actual progress and change in our world today.
The Women’s March is far from the solution we need to fight against the hate that exists today. Over a month following the march, the majority of those participants have yet to do anything else furthering the cause. We have a long way (four years, to be exact) to go under Donald Trump’s presidency, and just marching for one day is definitely not enough. So call your representative, join more marches, stay informed about our current events and other social issues, and most importantly, be strong and never stop fighting the fight.