Identity politics warriors face off.
Tension between old-school white liberal feminists and those who want to include racial identity politics in the movement is something we have written about for years, including in this 2014 post, #WhiteWomanPrivilege meets Festivus: The airing of bitter intra-feminist racial grievances:
We have noted before the tensions between white liberal feminists and non-white liberal feminists.
Sometimes it breaks out into a Twitter War, as it did when #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen hashtag unleashed bitter intra-feminist racial grievances.
Or when Joan Walsh of Salon.com got into a twitter war with some ladies who did not like Walsh’s condescending “professional left” attitude towards women of color, Dem Base Fractures Into Twitter War And Charges Of Racism Against Professional Left.
This past week, for reasons unknown to me, the eruption used the hashtag #WhiteWomanPrivilege.
It was like Festivus, the airing of grievances.
Which brings us to The Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for the day after Trump’s inauguration. It appears that the concept was grassroots, but it’s now a big liberal activist group feeding frenzy. Here’s a partial list:
Two hundred thousand people have signed up on Facebook, but let’s see how many people show up.
From the start, there were racial tensions between liberal white feminists and race-activists:
While support for the march grew quickly, it also drew criticism for lacking diversity. Nearly all of the initial organizers were white.
The name, which started as the “Million Women March,” was bashed on social media for mirroring the title of a march in Philadelphia 20 years ago to empower black communities.
In response, the name was changed to the “Women’s March on Washington” and several veteran protest organizers working on behalf of minority groups were enlisted as national co-chairs. They included Tamika Mallory, who led a criminal justice reform march from New York to Washington last year.
“Women of color needed to be included,” Mallory said.
White privilege has been a consistent theme and source of conflict:
But with its viral spread and no affiliation with any political agenda or movement, the march is attracting both participants and objections of all stripes. “Not all white women are privileged and I really don’t appreciate being scolded that I should ‘understand my privilege,’ ” one prospective attendee wrote in response to a statement from the co-chairs on the march’s “origins and inclusion.” “How dare you assume to judge??? This statement needs to be corrected—and an apology should be issued. How can we be expected to stand with people who make such distasteful assumptions?!?!” Another woman was more concerned with the march’s logistical holdups than identity politics: “Forget all this nonsense. Do you have a permit, security and bathrooms?”
The Women’s March promotes such narratives, including this “Activist of the Day” spotlight on its Facebook page [see Featured Image for the image that accompanied the entry]:
Today’s #ActivistAday features myself, ShiShi Rose (@shishi.rose). I am one of the admins on the @womensmarch Instagram.
For some people, their outlook of this country deeply changed on November 9th. For the rest of us, this is how it has always looked.
I want to remind you that that is a privilege.
It’s a privilege that white supremacy wasn’t at the forefront of your reality, because you benefit from it.
I want to remind you that no ally ever got very far, in any movement, without acknowledgement of their own privilege daily. You do not just get to join the efforts that people of color have been working for their entire lives to both teach and survive, without doing work, too. You don’t just get to join because now you’re scared, too. I was born scared.
Now is the time for you to be listening more, talking less, observing, taking in media and art created by people of color, researching, unlearning the things you have been taught about this country. You should be reading our books and understanding the roots of racism and white supremacy. Listening to our speeches. You should be drowning yourselves in our poetry. Now is the time that you should be exposed to more than just the horrors of this country, but also the beauty that has always existed within communities of color. Beauty that was covered over because the need to see white faces depicted was more important.
Now is the time to teach your children, to call out your family, to finally speak up. You have been silent for long enough. Now is the time to realize that you should have joined us sooner. But since you’re here now, it’s time to get to work. #WhyIMarch
The result has been that this is now less a march about women, then a social justice warrior parade:
Despite its “Women’s March” moniker, the national organizing committee’s striking diversity signals an increasing emphasis on defending “human rights, dignity, and justice,” as the event’s official website states, by unifying across difference. The organizing committee includes four national co-chairwomen—Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland—who are African American, Latina, Palestinian American, and white, and who all have extensive backgrounds as social justice organizers and professionals with local, national, and global experience.
Reflecting how racial politics has move to the forefront of the march, although there are four co-chairs, the media emphasis is on the three “women of color”:
The only one of the leaders of the March with whom I was previously familiar is Linda Sarsour, an Arab-American anti-Israel activist. She was an early supporter of Dream Defenders and shared a panel with Keith Ellison at an anti-Israel event at the Democratic National Convention last summer.
Sarsour apparently thinks little Palestinian kids throwing rocks is an act of courage (as opposed to child abuse by the people who put them in harm’s way), since she tweeted such praise in 2015 (the image, though, is not even from Israel):
Given the history of racial tension, and with someone like Sarsour in the lead, it was inevitable the Women’s March would take an ugly turn.
And it has, with the racial tension now the subject of national media. The NY Times reports, Women’s March on Washington Opens Contentious Dialogues About Race:
Many thousands of women are expected to converge on the nation’s capital for the Women’s March on Washington the day after Donald J. Trump’s inauguration. Jennifer Willis no longer plans to be one of them.
Ms. Willis, a 50-year-old wedding minister from South Carolina, had looked forward to taking her daughters to the march. Then she read a post on the Facebook page for the march that made her feel unwelcome because she is white.
The post, written by a black activist from Brooklyn who is a march volunteer, advised “white allies” to listen more and talk less. It also chided those who, it said, were only now waking up to racism because of the election.
“You don’t just get to join because now you’re scared, too,” read the post. “I was born scared.”
Stung by the tone, Ms. Willis canceled her trip.
“This is a women’s march,” she said. “We’re supposed to be allies in equal pay, marriage, adoption. Why is it now about, ‘White women don’t understand black women’?”
No surprise, Sarsour is one of the people pushing the identity politics fight, according to The Times:
Even as they are working to ensure a smooth and unified march next week, the national organizers said they made a deliberate decision to highlight the plight of minority and undocumented immigrant women and provoke uncomfortable discussions about race.
“This was an opportunity to take the conversation to the deep places,” said Linda Sarsour, a Muslim who heads the Arab American Association of New York and is one of four co-chairwomen of the national march. “Sometimes you are going to upset people.” …
“Yes, equal pay is an issue,” Ms. Sarsour said. “But look at the ratio of what white women get paid versus black women and Latina women.”
Attending the “Women’s March on Washington” has not once crossed my mind. I could conjure up a multitude of reasons why, but will raise what I consider to be most significant: In this event black women are merely peripheral interlocutors for what are supposed to be women’s rights and human rights writ large. There is a long history of black women being overlooked by, excluded from and co-opted into events that profess to be for the benefit of all women but that at their core almost exclusively benefit middle class, straight, white women (á la All the Women Are White).
None of this really is surprising.
When identity politics is the motivation for social action, identities will collide.
Side note: Apparently there are numerous buses leaving Ithaca for the March. Lots of liberal virtue-signalers will go, singing songs on the bus, and uploading videos to Instagram and Facebook so all their less virtuous friends can be put to shame. Selfies WILL be taken. When they get back to Ithaca, they will organize circles or something to talk about the experience and pat each other on the back. Group hugs WILL be had.