Why I Do Not Support The Women’s March On Washington

| Resist!

Above Photo: From brittanytoliver.com

My name is Brittany Oliver and I’m a women’s rights activist in Baltimore, MD.

As a Black woman, I am once again let down by people who call themselves feminists. I have been marginalized by the movement and now, my guard is up.

Despite my posts being deleted from the national Facebook event page, I’ve continued to be very vocal in my disappointment in the political co-optation of the “One Million Women,” now known as the “March on Washington” which is scheduled for January 21, 2017 at Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.

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In the beginning, you called your effort “One Million Woman,” and soon after being made aware you were co-opting a march led by Black women in 1997, then you decided to change the name to “March on Washington.” Well, little did you know, the “March on Washington” was yet another Black-led march that advocated for civil rights and culminated Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963.

Overall, you all have co-opted the messaging of these two very important historical moments in Black history and it is unacceptable. Politically co-opting our efforts with “ALL WOMEN” and “ALL VOICES” is merely an attempt to erase the specific needs of Black people.

You changed the messaging from #BlackLivesMatter to #AllLivesMatter. Why?

Since you’ve been made aware, I have yet to see paid homage to the work of our leaders and ancestors. Furthermore, this march still does not have an anti-racist, anti-white supremacist agenda, which I’m sure you all know is an issue given the November 8 election results:

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While I know you must be extremely proud of all the recent news coverage you’ve received, don’t forget to check out Fusion’s piece of your protest appropriation.

During the suffrage movement from 1848-1923, Black women were not even seen as human. White women who led equality campaigns in Washington, D.C. requested that black suffragists walk at the back of their parades. As a result, black women chose not to march at all and refused to participate. Isn’t it funny how history repeats itself?

This is why so many Black women and Black people of various identities struggle with connecting to mainstream feminism. It has so often failed to give us a platform to discuss how racial inequality relates to gender inequality. This doesn’t mean that we don’t care about equal rights across the board; it just means we can’t ignore the racism within the movement.

Sexism is NOT my only struggle. You don’t get to silence me or other Black women to dodge accountability of unpacking your racism.

Regardless of your intentions, white feminists should not be speaking for Black women or women of color unless asked to do so because that is what allyship looks like. Begging me to keep quiet because it makes you feel uncomfortable is not my problem.

The controversy you’ve created even caused your lead organizer in Maryland to step down:

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In case you needed a reminder, this is what the March on Washington looked like in 1963:

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And this is what the Million Woman March looked like in 1997:

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This is the perfect example of how white supremacy disguised as white feminism can be incredibly damaging to Black bodies, Black culture and Black herstory.

If you haven’t already, I suggest reaching out to the original organizers of the Million Woman March because you owe them an apology:

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My message is loud and clear: Black people already did this.

To sweep the hard work of the black struggle under the rug is a prime example of what NOT to do and yet here we are again.

I will not be attendance because it’s not worthy of my presence. From here on out, any march that do not support building social, political and economic power for Black women and their communities will not get my support. Why?

Because the white pantsuit you wore on Election Day was made possible by white women suffragists who stepped on the backs of my ancestors.

Never forget, it was Susan B. Anthony, who stated, “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.”

Lastly, your information packet says “These women recognized the need to be inclusive” and that’s not true. What actually happened is that you got called out for protest appropriation. It’s very important to be transparent about the intellectual and emotional labor it took to make you aware of your mistakes:

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For everyone else reading this, I urge you to find a way to support local Black-led grassroots organizations in your communities. Donate, volunteer, spread the word, anything.

For reasons like this is exactly why they need you now more than ever.

A HUGE thanks to all those who have supported me in speaking out and taking a stand.

  • jemcgloin

    I’m not taking sides in this argument,. I don’t know who is right or wrong.
    But I do know that this is exactly the kind of in fighting that will let the 1% win.
    It is important to get as many people as possible to Washington to protest this sexist, racist, classist, anti gay, anti human cabal.
    With an administration full of people that hate, who twist language at every opportunity, and who have the support of the worst elements of law enforcement things may get really bad, really fast.
    Those that believe in justice must figure out how to unify as they try to divide and conquer us.

  • Arakiba

    If these women changed the name, would they have the author’s permission to march?

  • Schoolteacher

    This is so important. I agree that grabbing someone else’s title and with it their political history for a demonstration is wrong. This is cooptation. The name has been changed. People learn and move on. Our being together and coming together is so important at this time. We have to coalesce to
    Be strong enough to struggle against what is to come. It is the 99% vs. the 1% now. Let’s hope that everyone looks deep in their hearts and learns from this experience. This is the first lesson.

  • Pat Kanzler

    I also believe what Jem said and I will not be part of something that is not all-inclusive, but I also believe that we have to show Trumpism what we think of racists, misogynists, anti-gay, anti-human and hateful people what we think of such, and I include every black, brown, green, yellow and white person….It is MY feelings, not the past, that count.

  • Dona Susy

    Imagine what it would look like if all women of color (including
    rainbows) boycotted the march…It would look like what it is: a bunch
    of white racist women marching down the street. To me, this is
    profoundly depressing…that we still haven’t learned how to unify
    against the real evil we all face: the global corporate fascists that
    control us, one of whom was just elected by “us” to deliver the final
    coup de grace to our hope for better lives–or even survival.

    We should ALL be locked arm-in-arm with each other to display real unity. A spirit of humility on the part of the organizers, to include seeking diverse leadership in planning, would have been an essential step, but it’s too late now…an incredible opportunity missed!

  • Barrie Anderson

    I’m disheartened to hear the bickering from both sides. I understand the history behind the other marches, im not negating that. However, if we do not work together as women, we will flounder, fail and put more distance between us.

  • This is a perfect e3xample of PETTY INFIGHTING. In the age of Trump, do we ALL want to FIGHT BACK or NOT ???

  • Adriana Jenson

    At this juncture, I think it’s picking and choosing battles. I don’t know what happened behind the scenes. I wonder what’s worse, to refuse to March because of clueless white women who may or may not have intentionally made racist missteps in planning, or a Trump regime, who has the support of the KKK, hired a rich cabinet that has no clue the lives of middle and low income folks, but will be making decisions that affect us, an Attorney General who is overtly a racist bigot that Senator Cory Booker made history and spoke against, etc. My opinion – anyone, should March who supports not just women’s rights, but the rights of society’s now most vulnerable, thanks to Trump’s comments – LGBTQ+, Mexicans, Immigrants, the Disabled, the Elderly, Muslims, Vets, Servicemen, Asians (mainly those who are brown heading closer to the Middle East), those from the Middle East, etc. Anyone, man or woman or race should March to support Cory Booker’s courage. He’s in the epicenter of it all, and he’s going to pay very serious consequence that are going to hurt him mentally. There’s going to be covert, nasty things that will be hard to prove and insidious. He sacrificed possibly even his ability to go further in his career. Things are going to be done he can’t imagine, because he has a heart and doesn’t think that way.

    We need to Match for those who have stood for us. Kamala Harris, look her up. She’s the new Senator for California, and we need to support her. She’s a light skinned black woman, who’s done great things for us already. She has a tough job ahead, because she’s beginning her DC career in more than one targeted group, with a Republican controlled congress. We’re talking the stereotypical type of Republicans – well off, entitled, thinks the rules don’t apply to them, mostly older white men…the “good ol boys club,” where they’re going to make deals on the golf course to benefit them and royally screw the rest of us. Dr Ami Bera, my congressman, is very dark skinned. I’m not sure if his race, but isn’t white. He and Kamala are both Democrats, who need our support to fight the good fight. It’s an uphill battle, and We The People are going to be demanding things of them that are unprecedented. Again, it’s pick it choose your battles. Even if it means the old adage – an enemy of my enemy is a friend of mine.

    I look white, but I’m a mixture of things and got more of my dad’s genes. My Mom is very dark skinned, half Native American, a quarter Irish and Portuguese (Azores Islands). My dad is German, and we don’t know his mom’s heritage other than she’s a white girl from Georgia, where she, her parents and siblings fled to California, because an Uncle was head of KKK and they didn’t want his reputation on them anymore. My grandma got a job working at a hospital and later became best friends with a gay black man. Unfortunately, he passed from AIDS in the early 90s and it about killed her.. Many from the Azores Islands are black. My great grandma was very dark skinned and she believed there’s black in our ancestry.

    My best friend growing up has a white mom and black dad. To this day she’s says it’s a damned phenomenon that I got a black girl booty and dance like a black guy. Her parents got together in the mid 70s, and they lived through some hard moments, saying the worst was both families disowning them. They started their own beautiful family, and did a fantastic job raising them. They stayed together until Mom passed of cancer a few years back. I met my friend in kindergarten. First time I went to her house was the first time I ever saw a black man. He said Boo! And I took off running and crying. He got the biggest kick out of it, but came and got me saying he won’t bite. He let me touch his arm, face and hair. He answered all my questions. From there, he was a second dad to me and I learned a lot of culture, a working blended culture. Best parents I ever saw.. Immediately, hip hop and R&B became my favorite music for life. I love to dance to it. Most of all, I learned that love and connection is possible, no matter the color.

    I ask if you’d be willing to look with slightly different perspective, that not all white women are clueless, and the ones who are clueless aren’t trying to be offensive. I’m not talking about the ones who blindly voted for Trump despite glaringly obvious reasons not to. That makes me sick.
    Many white women aren’t comfortable and don’t know what to do or not do, say or not say, unless someone tells them. It’s not always obvious, feeling like they are walking in eggshells, because they don’t want to give the wrong impression, and want to honor and have a relationship with you. Then, in trying to make this happen, they get nervous, and do or say something stupid. They’re afraid to tell you they’re clueless, because you may take offense to it. Take the March for example. What if they named it after a historical March, pivotal to Black history and civil rights as a goodwill gesture, and they were hoping it showed you they care and want you involved and included? I asked because I’ve seen this scenario play out several times. If you knew a white woman’s intent was to have a connection to you and learn more about you, but her delivery sucked, would you give her grace? Would you be willing to teach her the things to say, not say, to do and not do? I’ve had to have these conversations with each my black friends because aside from the obvious hot buttons, my friends had different triggers based on their life experiences.

    My next question, if you see a white woman trying to connect, do you want to extend the olive branch or would you prefer to keep her on eggshells and uncomfortable? Are you not ready to connect with her because she embodies all of the painful things that other white people have done to you, your family and your ancestors? And perhaps if you connect with her, then she might want you to connect with other white people? And what if she or another white person hurt your feelings over non-race stuff, would all of the anguish pour back in? Maybe you’re not ready or willing to connect with white women, and that’s okay, because you’re afraid to let your guard down, especially with white people in general because of the racist douche bags who want to keep us separate, who want us to keep fighting, and they want to keep us distracted so we miss the super douchy stunts they pull? I speak for many white women: we want a relationship with you, and many of us don’t know the right way to go about it. We want to start having healing and not have a much smaller group of assholes coming between what could be a great thing, and a powerhouse needed to resist the injustices. We want to learn from you. We’re happy to share if you want to learn anything from us. I dream of a time when we come together, and we’re looking forward together. It is such a petty and unnecessary thing to hate a another race over skin color, but our ancestors made a mess of things, and it drives me nuts. A Neverending cancer. Entitled, mean white people did horrible things to do many other races, but especially to black people and Native Americans. They very nearly successfully executed genocide. The cherry on top was raping Native American women after killing off most of their men, then these women having half white babies as a result, slowly diluting and deleting their heritage.

    Last thing – Another gal and I were viciously attacked in Twitter yesterday. Twitter had put the live stream of the inauguration. A bunch of people were saying no thanks. The other gal, being white, said oh look at all the happy rich white people. A white guy got offended saying she needs to own her privilege. I jumped in and said it doesn’t matter what color you are, calling bullshit like it is. Another white guy, this one in a Nazi uniform said comments like ours make him want to nuke us. I wasn’t available to be on twitter for several hours, and this gal responded, saying we’re allowed to have different views. They went full board, one making fun of her weight and diabetes, saying diabetes isn’t cute. The other, responding to both of us and calling us liberal shits, and repeatedly told us to die. I really got the sense this guy is a hair away from going out and hurting people. I told the gal I reported Nazi freak, not realizing it was 2 attackers. The second dude called me an idiot and something about most women aren’t feminists because of scum bags like me. I hope this illustrates that white people, same as black people, are all over the map. We can’t keep stereotyping entire groups of people and expect to stand up to serious hate that’s growing and backsliding into overt violence and abuse. Hate breeds hate, let’s be the solution. Let stand together and resist every hurtful thing the Trump regime throwing our way. Please! We can’t do this without you. We need every person deeply involved and teaming up to fight for our civil rights, our human rights, again.

  • AS A

    Susan B. Anthony was an abolitionist, at least that is in most of her biographical material.