“I will cut off this right arm of mine before I will ever work or demand the ballot for the Negro and not the woman.”
– Susan B. Anthony.
Like many radical women I participated in the protests against President Donald Trump and his racist and sexist regime. It was something I wasn’t too sure I wanted to do because I consider myself an activist for racial equality and justice before i would call myself a feminist. And considering the amount of hate that white women have spat at minority women, I just didn’t rush to the idea of “standing with my sisters.”
But I went, anyway. I went and purposely donned a shirt that listed people like Emmett Till, Amadou Diallo, Michael Brown, and other male victims of police brutality. I was accompanied by my friends:a Persian and a Latina. We went looking and hoping for representation of Muslims, Blacks, Natives and other people of color. We found them, in small numbers, but the speakers onstage made more than enough mention of racial and religious equality. As a matter of fact, the list of speakers was much more diverse than the crowd itself. For that, I am grateful.
One of those speakers was a homosexual black male who is also a preacher. His line was “if they come for one f us, they come for all of us.” The crowd- Latina, Caucasian, Black, Muslim, Christian, Jew – roared. The crowd, and I don’t have numbers but it was well within the thousands, cheered in agreement to this.
It was bittersweet. And here is why: there were marches in different cities all over the world. Record numbers came out in droves. There were children, people of various cultural and ethnic backgrounds, elderly and disabled, and the LGBTQ community came as well. But, when I think back to marches and protests I attended for Black Lives Matter and victims of police brutality, it made my stomach turn. This weekend there were thousands of protesters in “solidarity” in downtown Miami. This is great and all, but, a couple of years ago, on that same corner, my parents and I stood with no more than two dozen other people protesting the unfair treatment of African-Americans at the hands of racist police officers. Two dozen compared to a few thousand.
You might say that they didn’t come to Black Lives Matter protests because it wasn’t their fight. But how is this okay? Especially when we celebrate the many men who attended and supported these women in their march.
The truth is, even feminists can be racist, prejudice and classist.
There are a few stories of racial prejudice from this weekend that I have come across. On a small-scale even I noticed the number of disapproving glances at my shirt. Were those the majority? Not at all. I saw a young white girl of about 8 or 9 years wearing a “‘Nah – Rosa Parks” shirt. I saw white teenage girls with Black Lives Matter on theirs and elders with figures like Malcolm, Marcus and Martin on theirs. I saw middle to upper class white family holding a sign that said “Racism Is Not Okay”. And there, somewhere in the crowd, was my very mixed but classified as white friend who actually did attend Black Lives Matter stands and has stood with us from the beginning. She and her children.
Moreover, the marching protesters – mostly white anglo and white hispanic – walked up and down a major street chanting “NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE, NO RACIST POLICE.”
And that made me feel good. Good as fuck, if you really want to know.
But I do wonder, is this all just a part of the anti-Trump frenzy, or has he actually sparked a unification? It is hard for someone like to acknowledge the latter as more true than the former. But I must have hope. Even though the well-respected feminist and fighter of women’s rights Susan B. Anthony said things like :
“An oligarchy of wealth, where the rich govern the poor; an oligarchy of learning, where the educated govern the ignorant; or even an oligarchy of race, where the Saxon rules the African, might be endured; but this oligarchy of sex, which makes father, brothers, husband, sons, the oligarchs over the mother and sisters, the wife and daughters of every household; which ordains all men sovereigns, all women subjects, carries dissension, discord and rebellion into every home of the nation.”
(Translation: rich can rule poor, educated can rule uneducated and white can rule black but women must not be ruled by men.)
So I look to Sojourner Truth. An activist on both fields. And Nannie Helen Burroughs. And Ida B. Wells. I also look to women across the world like Malala Yousafzai.
Feminism has frequently left “other” women out. It has been something privileged white women seek for themselves. But they are not the only women who need equality and freedom. From equal rights to education in the Middle East and Africa, to freedom from sex trafficking and Asia and Eastern Europe and every other disrespected and dehumanized women.
This is why feminism needs to be intersectional. It goes along with the fight against racial and socio-economic injustice. I cannot stand more firmly with white women than I do with people of color. So, I don’t. But I am there. I show up, but you will acknowledge my people or be recognized as an extension of the oppressor. So know that I believe that if they come for one of us, they come for all of us. But if you are not with us, you are one of them. And will be treated as such.
Respeta mi existencia o espera resistencia.