Why I Volunteered At A Women’s March, As A Black Woman

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“On Saturday (Jan.21), as throngs of women gathered to shout, listen and raise ironic signs in the name of “solidarity,” I felt little desire to join them — and by “them” I mean the marchers of the white variety.”

Those are the words written in an article on The Grio, written by a black women named Iyana Robertson, which expressed the sentiment, that the march was yet another extension of white feminism at its finest, and that it will change little for the women of marginalized groups. Robertson’s opinion is not unique to her as on the day of the march and in the hours that followed I came across quite a few posts on social media where black women admitted to sitting this one out, because when have white women ever radically defended our right to exist?

I wasn’t really planning on writing this post at first, when I signed up to be a volunteer at the march that took place in Philadelphia, I didn’t give it a second thought. I am a woman, I want fully autonomy over my body, and both the PATRIARCHY and Trump’s wacky toupee upset my spirit, so the decision to give my time to a cause for women was a no- brainer.

Two days later, and I still don’t regret volunteering and waving my sign in the air, like I just didn’t care. But let’s talk about the white elephant in the room shall we? While I don’t agree entirely with the idea that Black women should not have participated because white women do not show us the same level of support, there are key things to takeaway from this march.

White feminism is very real, and it always has been and will be ,and if you need an example of, it’s a white Twitter user who tweeted that we need to #stayonmessage instead of focusing on things like the fact that 53% of white women voted Trump into office.

It goes without saying that fighting racism and systemic oppression has never been as “trendy,” as pro-life vs. pro-choice or LGBTQ rights. But the point that often gets missed, is that we never said that our case was more important, we only said that it matters just as much, and yet goes unmentioned in the other fights for equality.

So for that, I understand why some Black women chose to sit this one out, it’s because while over a million women may have march all around the world, you will never see many of those same white women with signs and pink hats at a Black Lives Matters rally screaming about how I deserve to not receive ten cents less than my white female peers or how my little brother deserves to walk the streets and not fear police.

But here’s the thing, institutions are not in the favor of the marginalized, because they have never been and while progress has been made, we continue to have to plead for our reality to be validated.

Activism does not and should not exist in a monolith, you can not be a member of the privileged and choose to stand for one group and not the other, or else your perception of intersectionality is deeply misguided.

I volunteered for a march in my city that was organized by a white woman and her white husband, because I know that the march was not for me and because I know that while I cannot completely turn away from many of these systems, I can work within them.

And for me on that day, showing up and saying that I have a right to be here, the same way that I have a right over my body and my choices, felt right.

I could have sat at home and frowned at the fact that white women were now flooding the streets because their rights were threatened, when Black people have always had their rights threatened, but what would that have achieved?

The march may never have a direct impact on my life, and perhaps it was all just noise.

But as a member of the marginalized I have to make noise, I am already expected to keep my head down and go along with what is handed to me, and the world would prefer that all women remain silent.

So I thought it was time to make a little noise.

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