Yesterday afternoon, I attended a sister Women’s March in Lexington, KY. Yesterday night, I went to bed feeling nearly as bad as I felt the night of the election.
Surrounded by thousands and thousands of people showing up to resist Trump’s agenda was exciting…at first. That was until I started reading signs and getting a read of the crowd.
There were a few problematic signs like the apocalyptic biblical “You want a Revolution, I want Revelation”, one with images of both a cow and human in shackles – daring to liken meat-eating to slavery, and the Dumbledore’s Army-esque “Wands Up!”. But what really troubled me was the compounded message of every single sign that was spouting one-dimensional first/second wave feminist phrases. “Girls rule, boys drool.” “Feminism is the notion that women are humans.” “Can’t believe I have to march for this in 2017.” The sea of pussy hats. Every single article of clothing that made me feel like these people just raided their breast cancer awareness closet. And every message that wasn’t written on a sign or was dwarfed by this pink/white-washing. It was all of this that suggested to me that these white folks were not showing up for anyone other than themselves and their privileged white friends.
I realized just how unsettled I was when we started marching. It seemed like for the majority of the people present, this march was a pleasant little stroll through the streets of Lexington, KY. Maybe for a lot of these folks, this was their first involvement in activism ever, which is awesome. But were these people here because they want to engage in the work or because they want to point to a history book and say “I was there”? I felt no sense of urgency in the crowd. No sense of collective anger at injustice and oppression. Chants died off quickly with meager support from those marching, while I was chanting at the top of my lungs trying to infuse energy into the crowd. When we started chanting “Black Lives Matter”, several white folks stopped chanting….and then an “All Lives Matter” chant bubbled up soon after. My sign read “You Can’t Stop the Intersectional Revolution” but I’m no longer convinced that we have one.
At this point, I don’t even care where these people were when black bodies were lying in the street at the hands of police violence, when indigenous water protectors were being sprayed with water and tear gassed on their own land, when bathroom bills were being passed to further oppress trans* folks, when 53% of white cis-women voted for Trump. The only relevant question now is: WHERE WILL YOU BE??? How many people who attended marches all over the world are actually going to go home and have critical conversations with their friends and family? How many are going to look for ways to build community and stay involved in the resistance? How many are going to educate themselves and realize that the revolution must be intersectional or there is no revolution at all?
I know folks like to claim the opposite, but Donald Trump is our President. Don’t blame it on Russia. Don’t blame it on rural white southerners. Don’t blame it on whatever else you’ve been blaming it on to make you feel better about yourself and allow yourself to ignore the fact that Donald Trump won because of institutionalized systems of privilege and oppression. The problem is bigger than Trump. It always has been. Recognize that and hold his administration and your neighbors accountable.
As much as I hoped for yesterday to be invigorating and empowering, I feel disappointed, tired, lost, engulfed in the work that needs to be done even and especially among those who showed up to resist (at least portions of) Trump’s agenda. It doesn’t matter that these marches combined may equal the largest (by attendance) protest in history.
There is so much to do. Educate. Agitate. Organize.