The Women’s March has gained traction since the 2016 election, when Donald Trump was elected into office. There have been many of these marches all over the country every year since, promoting “intersectional activism” that is supposed to emphasize “diversity in organizing and advocates for policies that address a wide variety of issues, including discrimination by sex, gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, class, nationality, disability, religion, and other marginalized statuses.” However, back in 2020, the organization excluded the Black Lives Matter movement for the first time because they wanted to focus on the issue of voter registration instead. In my opinion, this was an excuse to exclude Black people from a platform that is mainly ran by white women, and issues that are geared more towards white, cisgender women. The Women’s March prides itself on being inclusive, yet it fails to be inclusive when it comes to people of color, those with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community. This organization has a long way to go if it wants to be inclusive to everyone.
As aforementioned, the Women’s March excluded the Black Lives Matter movement from being a potential speaker due to voter registration awareness because of the upcoming 2020 election. This is contradictory to their mission as they promote being intersectional activists. Having someone from the Black Lives Matter movement would have provided a conversation that would have added to why people should go out and register to vote. By promoting voices of color and other marginalized groups, it shows that we should go out and vote in order to fight these injustices placed upon us. When people share their complex experiences with injustices, it adds to why we need to fix these problems; this helps mobilize voters. To me, it seems like the Women’s March wants to promote only one voice through their platform by crying out “voter registration.” Not to mention, the Women’s March has been criticized before for only focusing on the problems of cisgendered women by excluding conversations and not marching for “disability rights, transgender rights, and immigrant rights.”
For the past three years, the Black Lives Matter movement has been invited to speak at the Women’s March, so why weren’t they invited back in 2020? According to Melina Abdullah, one of the founders of the BLM movement, once she found out BLM wasn’t invited back, she reached out to them and was ignored. Once Abdullah received an answer back, she was told that the Women’s March was looking for “new voices” and would begin giving them the space.
Here are the people who spoke at the 2020 Women’s March: “Politicians Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Eric Garcetti, Maxine Waters, Karen Bass and Rusty Hicks; attorney Gloria Allred; activists Caitlyn Jenner and Lorri Jean; and actors Rosanna Arquette, Yvette Nicole Brown, Wilson Cruz, Joely Fisher, Ta’Rhonda Jones, Tatiana Maslany, Marlee Matlin, June Diane Raphael, Raven-Symoné, Michelle Rodriguez, Bella Thorne, and Lisa Ann Walter.”
Although there are women of color included in this line up, it doesn’t make up for the voice they just silenced by not giving them the space to speak about issues that pertain to Black women. Also, inviting people like Caitlyn Jenner to your march to speak is not acceptable; Jenner doesn’t stand for beliefs for all trans people and is ultimately conservative. This just comes to show that the Women’s March is clearly catered to white feminism.
In response to the Women’s March excluding marginalized groups, an activist group in Houston Texas called the Hoochies of Houston decided to team up with the Women’s March to make it more inclusive. Founder Nia Jones felt that the “women’s marches across the country skewed toward a white, privileged crowd,” but still wanted to march on the issue of reproductive rights due to the recent Texas abortion ban, as it is an issue that hurt people of color as well. According to the Houston Women’s March, they treated every single one of their volunteers and the Hoochie of Houston equally and the same, but that wasn’t the case. Jones stated that those who were in charge of the march dismissed a couple of their ideas, one being swag bags filled with reproductive products. This meant the group had to find another distributor for these 300 swag bags that wasn’t part of the march. Next, the march, according to Jones, was not inclusive because of the lack of Spanish translators and transgender representation; in response to this ,the Houston’s Women’s March’s publicist Rachael Austin stated that she wasn’t “too concerned” because nearly 75 percent of the 30 speakers were people of color. This is once again displaying white feminism. How are you going to hold a march and lack resources and representation because 75 percent of the 30 speakers are people of color? That is just an excuse, once again! To add, one of the directors of the Houston March, Maria Verdeja, told the Hoochies of Houston that “they don’t belong here.” This was, of course, denied by Verdeja. Overall, this just shows the anti-Blackness behind the march as the Hoochie of Houston weren’t welcomed in the first place, even though they were there in order to make the march more inclusive. The Women’s Marches are rooted in white feminism, yet nothing is being done each year by the people running the march to stop it. Instead, they ignore the problem and give spaces to “new voices.”
The Women’s March has a lot to do if they want to promote themselves as an intersectional organization; and it starts with the inclusion of Black voices. So many Black women have sacrificed a lot for the rights we as women have today, such as: Harriet Tubman, Mary Church Terrell, and Frances Ellen Watkins Harpe. Excluding their voices from the Women’s March displays anti-Blackness. It’s the Women’s March, not the White Women’s March; there needs to be change, and it starts by including the voices of the Black Lives Matter Movement, and stopping the promotion of white feminism.
Featured Image: Courtesy of Vlad Tchompalov / Unsplash