Just two weeks before the Women’s March in Washington, co-organizers Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour are facing a verbal roadblock. While handling reporters and putting together what could now be the largest demonstration in U.S. history, white women were feeling out of the loop. It was discovered that 53 percent of eligible white female voters stood behind Trump at the polls, while 94 percent of eligible African-American women stood beside Hillary Clinton, so it wasn’t a surprise as to why women of color were questioning the presence of white women at the march. As more white women came forward with their complaints of exclusivity, Sarsour told VIBE over the phone the cause is much bigger than white tears.
“I think there are people who may not see themselves you know, or not feeling welcomed, there are so many that do,” she said. “We also hope that when they are marching with us, they stand next to an undocumented person, a formerly incarcerated person. Have a conversation [with them] and actually feel that they can be a part of the liberation of those folks.” Perez also pushed for those who questioned the march to come out instead of lingering around social media. “It’s okay to be uncomfortable and I myself sometimes am uncomfortable,” she said. “It makes me challenge it, it makes me think about things in a different way. What we’re trying to tell people is that ‘Yes, we include you but if you don’t feel included, I want you to invite yourself to our convening and find that space and it your own space because we are all we have.’ It’s the people versus the administration. We have to create a large inclusive, diverse opposition that’s going to fight for the rights of all people. We don’t have a choice.”
Our interview lingered in my mind while on the way to the Women’s March in NYC. It was just one out of many sister marches that took place at the same time as the rally in Washington, D.C. Hearing the urges from Sarsour, Perez, Tamika Mallory and Bob Bland, white women came out in droves to Fifth Avenue. While riding the 6 train, I overheard one white woman’s privilege that made me truly get why so many of my fellow sisters decided against the march. Doting a few colorful signs and crisp air force ones, Ms. Privilege gloated about her custom ring imported from international waters along with other topics that would make your eyes roll to the back of the train car. Thinking the convo would head down a more thoughtful road after another straphanger asked her about the march, it instead took a trip to Entitled Blvd. as she bragged about her recent travels. I wasn’t expecting every white woman to be as bold as black women have been at other demonstrations, but I was expecting them to acknowledge it, not seep in it.
“You cannot talk about any social issue, social justice issue in this country without talking about race and privilege,” Carmen had said. With President Donald Trump and portions of his supporters spewing racist sentiments against the LGBTQ community, Muslims and African-Americans, the turnout for the NYC march proved to be larger and more diverse than any TV executives’ liquid dream. Black women, Latinas, LGBTQ groups and their children marched down the street as employees from Bergdorf Goodman peaked through mannequins. Within the creative signs and groups calling for justice for people of color, climate change and gender equality, there were also clones of Ms. Privilege in between in the form of fellow white women and Best Buy selling selfie sticks to protesters.
In between the calls to dump Trump, there were those who opened their mind and hearts during the historic event. While many of us (and our elders) have marched down these same streets calling out the names of those who were killed by the police, this group of woke folks have finally found their voice through political tragedy. It took some time, but change is a slow and steady process. With the minority becoming the majority in the very near future, here are just some of the voices, young and old, that are standing up and showing out in Trump’s America.
Kevin, Photojournalist and Educator
Usually, I’m out shooting things like this, but I decided to come out and support the march. This is my daughter’s first political event. She’s six-years-old. I felt like it was important for her to see the sheer number of people that were out to protest against Trump. Instead of living in fear, I want her to be able to see that there are a lot of people that feel the same way and when there’s a lot of people that feel the same way about something, it should make her feel more bold. I want to feel bold as well because I have a lot of fears, to be honest. My fear is that he represents an attitude that’s pervasive in this country. He’s not the cause, but a symptom of the bigger problem and that bothers me.
Athalie Vanloo, Intersectional Feminist
I’m out here marching because I am a black queer woman who is also an immigrant and I’m literally the person that Trump hates. I’m here to fight any legislation that Trump will put forward. Him, the Senate, everyone. We can’t do much with the protest, but I do hope that he will see this and something will click in his heart or his head and he’ll see, ‘Hey, I should be listening to the people.’ I’m hoping that the momentum stays over the next four years. I will definitely get involved in my own community and help fund Planned Parenthood anyway I can. “Intersectional Feminist” means to me that all sorts of oppression are interrelated. You can’t just be a feminist fighting for women’s rights. You have to fight for trans rights, black people’s rights, mental illness, etc. Everything is connected.
Colleen Coleman, Artist and Educator
I guess I’m considered an older black woman. I’m a child of the 60’s and I love history and Donald Trump and his admin actually frighten me because it harkens back to Nazi-era Germany and I’m afraid of what he’s going to do to this country and as Americans, we have the liberty to not let him to take our country and do whatever he wants with it.
My mother was activist and she was very involved in her community and the people who are my age benefited from that, but we didn’t actually pass that onto our children. We haven’t reinforced it in our education.
Ife Michelle, Writer and Artist
I grew in New Haven, Conn. and I remember the marches and I remember the Panther Breakfast Program, and we need to all stand up together and resist. Struggles are real, for African American people especially. This is a call to action, we have to really really move on what you say. It’s a real Sankofa moment. In every struggle, from Martin Luther King to Malcolm X, everybody’s struggle came out of some kind of resistance. We have to gear up and get ready to fight. It was heartwarming to see all of this. I was taken back to when I was a kid marching with my grandmother and the Black Panthers. We shouted ‘Power to the People!,’ and I’m like, ‘Yes! Power to the people!’ It’s time to wake up people, no sleeping.
Yusef, Permanent Resident
I can’t actually vote because I’m a permanent resident, not a citizen so this is the only voice I have. Trump obviously has a ton of alt-right people as part of his organization and cares nothing about women’s rights. I fear for people’s voting rights all over the country and I definitely fear for the environment but all around, even if he achieved just five percent of what he wants to do, it will be bad.
I haven’t been to many marches for a long time. I live in New Jersey and I felt like I had to be apart of a larger entity. I have a six-year-old granddaughter that believes that A.) boys and girls should be treated equally, B.) Bullying is bad and C.) climate change. After the election, she said, ‘Grandma, what’s going to happen to my issues?’ I said, ‘ We’ll take care of them for you.’ So I’m here for her and honored to be here with all these people.
Elizabeth Isaacs, Public Defender for the Legal Aid Society
I’m marching because I think we’re going to spend the next four years on learning how to build a resistance and it starts today. Men, women and children, everyone has to resist the hate and bigotry that Donald Trump represents.I think that as a white woman, especially in my line of work where I’m dealing with the criminal justice system where most of my clients are black and brown people, I feel like it’s important to acknowledge my own privilege and to step back and listen and not overstep and part of that is having voices especially women of color come to the forefront. There’s so many good quotes out there so I thought, let’s go to Assata Shakur. Assata is a hero of mine and I think that she should have been pardoned by Obama before he left office.
Scott, Fashion Industry Professional
I’m marching because I believe in women’s rights. I’m an intersectional feminist, a supporter of rights for women of color and I’m also extremely gay. These are all things that are super important to me. I’ve actually never done anything like this before. I’m keen to causes and support any way I can in my work. In my industry, diversity is not really big so that’s what I push for, but this is on a large scale.
I’m marching today for so many reasons but mainly because I believe that everyone should be free and that none of our rights should be taken away because they’re so much fear created by this administration and it’s important for us to come together and defeat what they’re trying to impose on us.
Bianca Jean-Pierre, Digital Merchandiser
I’m marching today because we need to prove that we’re all human, humanity does exist in all shades, whether you don’t believe in genders, race, etc. No matter what it is, we’re all here for a common goal, a common purpose, and everybody deserves these rights. We’re here to fight for them and no one can stop us—not even Cheeto-in-Chief.
Buyelwa Xundu, Cape Town Native
I’ve been here for six months and today is my last day in New York. To me, it was the perfect way to end my trip since I’ve been here. Being black, being a woman and being African, there’s a lot of intersectionality going on within me and I wanted to experience what you guys do with your protests and marches. In South Africa, we have our own crazy politics with our president Jacob Zuma so it’s great to see how other people protest and march.
Elle Kaznier, BLM Supporter
My family is black, my children will be black and whatever we’re looking at isn’t going to be okay.
Bill Shea, Freelance Artist and Activist
I’m protesting because everything that Donald Trump says that comes out of his mouth is pure crap. His policies and everything is just mind boggling and the people that he’s bringing into office is just disgusting. They’re anti- LGBTQ, their millionaires, he said he was going to drain the swamp and he’s just bringing the swamp into the White House. I had family members that actually supported this man and that created a huge riff within my family. It made me see, ‘Hey, I know you’re part of my family, but I don’t have to stand for this either. I’m LGBTQ and the fact that you support this man is disgusting, you say you support me, but you really support your own pocketbook.’
John Debase, Apparel Industry Professional
I’m here today because Donald Trump, among many other things, made fun of disabled people and my 19-year-old son is disabled. So I was in the state of such disbelief when I saw that happen on television that it’s just been anti-Trump ever since. He doesn’t represent any of my values and never would have thought at my age or in my life I would be out on 5th Ave wearing a poopy hat protesting Trump.
Lorelle Gonzalez, Proud Puerto-Rican
I just actually flew in today from Puerto Rico and met up with my friends that are a gay couple. We all came to march because we want our rights to be heard. Women’s rights, gay rights and we’re here supporting the march. It’s humbling to be here and read all these empowering messages. I was about to cry earlier when I saw a little girl chanting that she wants her rights to be heard. She was five years old!
Janelle Malley, Working Professional
Everything that I see here, is the complete antithesis of what this country is about. I have children and they understand what democracy is and this is not it. What we’re doing now, marching out here, this is the democratic process. We have a right to protest, we have a right to march and this is what Democracy is about. Unfortunately, it looks as though a lot of people weren’t as engaged as they should have been and I think that’s where we are. I’m marching for my rights, as well as everyone’s rights. For civil rights, women’s rights and religious freedom.
Kamla, Mom and Superwoman to Jaya and Sanjay
I’m protesting for women’s rights, for my daughter, my grandchildren, my son and for everyone of color. I’ve been out here since 1:30 p.m. and I’ve spoken to other people [with different interests]. It feels great, it’s like we’re united.
It feels good since we’re a lot people and we’re marching for the same thing.
It feels nice that we’re protesting against Trump. I was surprised at the election. I think Hillary should have won.