Women Of Color Assess The Impact Of The Women's March

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Demonstrators protest near the White House in Washington for the Women's March on Jan. 21, 2017. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images)

Organizers of the Women’s March in Washington, D.C., on Saturday are planning their next steps, but some women of color are questioning whether and how the movement should go forward. They’re saying that they’ve not been included, and they want white women to meet them where they are.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young talks with Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo), editor-at-large for The Establishment, about how women can navigate feminism and issues of identity.

Interview Highlights

On not attending the march

“I thought about it, I gave it a lot of thought, and honestly, emotionally, it was really too hard. As the day became nearer, and I saw a lot of people who had never marched before, who had never marched with me before and with other people of color before, so excited to march for the first time, it became a really conflicting and emotional time, and it honestly wasn’t something I could handle.”

On what it was like watching the marches

“You know, it was a mix. It was wonderful to know that so many people were taking to the streets and were speaking out, but if you are a person of color who has been fighting for black lives and brown lives, if you are a water protector who has been hosed down in Standing Rock, you have been begging people to stand next to you for so long. So, it can be hard to look at it and not wonder how many lives could be saved if we had even a tenth of these many people showing up at a Black Lives Matter march to push for police accountability and to push for reform. And that becomes hard because you can’t bring people back from the beyond the grave.”


On her piece, “When You Brag That The Women’s Marches Were Nonviolent

“My thoughts when I was writing this piece was, I was really hoping people could see what the language around the self-congratulatory tone really meant, and the effects that that could have on people of color. When you look at how marches are described, this march was described completely differently than many other very peaceful marches for black lives. And when you look at how we are described as thugs when we take to the street, we are described as disruptors and lawbreakers when we take to the street, and people are pulled off the street not doing anything violent and arrested, to brag that no one was arrested in a march that was filled with white women, as if that is an accomplishment that you really had a huge part of, what it does it that it says that marches that were branded as disruptive lesser, and the truth is is we are all fighting for very important things, but only certain people get to march down these streets and not have to worry about violence from police officers.”

On criticism that perspectives like hers create divisions in feminism

“I think it’s interesting when people say this because what we have to ask is what is really dividing? Because when you say that it is divisive, are the differences divisive? Or is it voicing the differences that’s divisive? So either you want women of color, trans women, disabled women, queer women to just be quiet and never state what they need in the name of unity, or you want to address it and show that when you say that you’re here for women, you are here for all women. So if you want to move women forward, you have to ask: ‘What is holding you back? What is hurting you? I care about you.’ There is nothing more unifying than reaching out to people and saying, ‘What do you need?'”

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