While many women gathered in protest during Trump’s inauguration, making for what has been called the largest Trump protest thus far, after careful consideration, I had to sit that one out. I just wasn’t here for it.
As a Black woman, I know that Black people – men and women alike – have little to nothing to gain under the pink hat agenda.
Yet, some are criticizing women who rejected the march because of their distrust toward White women who have not offered such rage they displayed at the inauguration march toward issues that effect women of color. These critics claim that the disaccord is disheartening and these critics claim that the fear of Trump’s agenda and how his presidency will affect us all should be enough for women of all intersections to let bygones be bygones so that we all join in solidarity despite our differences and current and historical disconnect.
What these critics fail to consider, however, is that Trump is not necessarily our problem – and when I say “our” I mean Black women. And many of us are acutely aware that he is not our problem because we have suffered under every-single-president – both Democrat and Republican – for quite some time.
Trump’s agenda does not – or at least should not – particularly alarm us because systemic oppression had been our reality for, not merely decades, but centuries. Trump is no different in that regard than any other president in our past. Thus, his presidential election does not alarm us into solidarity to an extent that makes us willing to overlook how many of these same individuals who are marching have also either actively or passively assisted in our oppression.
Trump is not a big bad wolf for us.
In fact, patriarchy is not our problem. Whatsoever. Black women are in much better positions than our Black male counterparts based on numerous socio-economic indicators. So again, patriarchy and misogyny is not our concern – at least not our chief concern.
You know what is, though? The WHITE supremacist systemic structure that is America is what causes the bulk of our oppression. And that oppression has no gender boundaries – that oppression happens from men and women alike who hold positions of influence and power within various systems.
You can insert whatever figurehead who occupies the presidency at any given time, and the ways in which our lives are devalued, threatened, systemically oppressed and constantly disrespected on social levels remains constant.
So no, Trump is not enough to threaten us into solidarity with women who have shown no such interest when Black people’s oppression was on the agenda.
In fact, these critics are sending the message that, even though when we ring the alarm, White women and other non-sympathizers can choose to ignore our call for support, but as soon as White women ring the alarm, it is time for women of all intersections to let bygones be bygones and move in the answer to their call.
That idea in and of itself is dismissive and oppressive – exactly what we’re used to, quite frankly. THAT idea is prioritizing White female oppression or discontent over any other women’s. THAT is divisive – not our refusal to continue offering ourselves as pawns and tools to aid in others’ agenda with only the empty promise and futile hope that they continuously offer us: a rising tide will lift all boats, and helping us will trickle down, and, by extension, help you Black women too.
Naw, son. I am no longer falling for that okey-doke.
The grimm reality is that many of these White women who rang this alarm for a call to action and solidarity are the same women who commit acts of prejudice, express their own bigotry, and utilize their privilege to further oppress Black people on a daily basis.
So I offered a reminder of this to my fellow Black women who considered and/or joined in the march. I reminded Black women that:
These are the same women who ask to touch your hair then commented on how surprised they were that it is “so soft.”
These are the same women who, after Trump’s election, commented on how disappointed they were that America is clearly more misogynist than racist.
These are the same women who hold positions of privilege and share their white male counterparts wealth and privilege in America.
These are the same women who remained quiet, and did not budge in protest when Sandra Bland and Korryn Gaines were slain.
These are the same women who perform microagressions on a daily basis, and whose sisters, mothers, relatives and friends have said and done prejudice shit on numerous occasions, but they never step in to tell them of their wrongdoings, but, instead, they remain cordial and friendly, and ‘stay out of their business.’
And when you March and congregate for causes that are specific to your Black life, you do not and will not see them nearby in solidarity.
These women’s fight is not ours. And they’ve told us and showed us that over the years.
So, when I considered joining in their march – fleetingly, I will concede – I decided that I will let them cry their white tears ALONE. Just like they’ve left me and my Black brothers and sisters to cry alone since as long as I can remember.
Intersectionality is a very important consideration. And in my own opinion, if it isn’t intersectional, at this point, it isn’t true feminism. Perhaps women of all intersections did show up to the march. Perhaps, for some, that was a beautiful thing. For me, however, I am not here for the symbolism. Just because many different types of women and even men showed up to the protest, doesn’t make the agenda intersectional.
Yes, they have offered proclamations of an intersectional agenda on a website. Rhetoric. We’ve heard all this before.
Instead of offering symbols, tokens and some rhetorical appeal, DO THE WORK. Alone.
White women, congregate, march, and politically engage in ways that truly fight for socio-economic improvements for Black women, and do it by your selves, without us. Prove your solidarity. Then when the action starts to mirror the rhetoric and the charming selfies you post on Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat, we may BEGIN to believe you. But the time for benefit of the doubt is long gone. We’ve been duped with empty rhetoric about a collective good, inclusion, intersectionality, and solidarity too many times to continue to fall for the same tired lines.
I am no longer interested in attempts at convincing others of my own importance and humanity.
I recollect when Sojourner Truth gave her famous speech, “And Ain’t I a Women” during the women’s Suffrage Movement, when she had to remind both White women and men alike that all the luxuries and the high regard that White males offered toward White women did not extend or apply to Black women such as herself. Her speech made brutally clear then that Black women’s struggle was not the same as White women’s. In the midst of White women’s complaints about not having the right to vote – indeed, a right they should’ve been afforded – and their complaints about being relegated to the private/domestic sphere, they nevertheless had privileges in America that were unfathomable for their Black female counterparts. And, unfortunately, this still proves true in 2017.
But just like their historical resistance to fight for Black people’s causes then, they continue to make sentiment painfully clear on a daily basis. So, when you ask for our solidarity on one day, in which we are supposed to put your daily bullshit aside for YOUR cause, I say naw.
Because the day after the inauguration, when we are merely co-workers, or acquaintances, or social media friends, or boss and subordinate, your microagressions, privilege, and prejudice will re-ensue. So, until you prove otherwise, I will sip my tea on the couch, perhaps even be compelled to be petty and consider making snarky remarks about your over-reactions, your disrespect for your own communities during your acts of resistance, and offer respectability politics solutions to your political ailments. See how that feels?
In all honesty, and on a more serious note – I, in reality, have few, if any petty bones in my body, I truly hope that this disaccord and the criticism Black women have offered White women in the backlash toward the march will serve as a wake up call.
Game recognize game, granddad.
Yes, there is power in a collective. There is power in solidarity. There is power in intersection. But White women must truly believe in it and make their actions mirror that – on a continuous, daily basis – not just when it’s convenient for them and when they need something. And until they show all the intersections that, and do better, don’t expect for Black women to treat White women better than they treat us. That’s just unhealthy relationships 101. Do better. Then we’ll consider taking a meeting.
But until then, as far as I’m concerned, ya’ll are on your own.
To lighten the mood, I’ll leave you readers with a Kendrick quote:
“I’ve got a bone to pick / … I’m mad … / True friend, one question / B**** where were you when I was walkin’?”
Camille H. is a writer, educator, editor, lecturer and public speaker. She holds graduate degrees in English, Public Policy and Administration, and Urban Affairs. She can be contacted at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @_CamilleH You can also listen to her cohost a weekly radio show “Take No Prisoners Radio” on 98.5 The Wire, archived on Soundcloud.