The Women’s March Was A Moment For Solidarity. For Many Women Of Color, It Felt Divided.
A protestor at D.C.’s Women’s March explains why women of color must be respected in the intersectional fight for equal rights.
Maya Angelique Moody is a 20-year-old community volunteer and activist. On Saturday, along with her family and some 500,000 protestors, she attended the Women’s March in Washington D.C. By most reports, it was a tremendous success — a unified pushback against the Trump administration’s impending threat of doom. But for Moody, who at points felt a glimmer of hope, the day was anything but triumphant. Many participants in the predominantly white crowd, she said, remained insensitive and dismissive to the issues that women of color have been fighting for for decades.
In the hours after the march, Moody posted a thorough Twitter thread about the treatment she received from a handful of white women in D.C. “It annoys me how many ww claimed to be marching ‘in solidarity’ for all women,” she wrote, “but sit silently and idly by while black and other woc are discriminated against, harassed, kidnapped, raped and killed.”
Other women of color took to social media to share similar experiences of detachment and disregard by their white counterparts when, in moments past, the time came to rally for the rights of Latino, black, Muslim, and queer causes.
Earlier today, Moody spoke to The FADER with regard to how white women can better respect women of color (especially in spaces of resistance) and the importance of organizing and protesting as an intersectional feminist.
MAYA ANGELIQUE MOODY: I went to the march with my niece who’s 4 years old and my step-mom. We drove to Pentagon City Mall, a mall right outside of D.C.. We rode the Metro, which took us about 2 hours, because of all the people trying to get to the march. When we first got to the Metro, that’s where all the protestors were. It was mainly all white women — a lot of them were giving us side-eyes and looking at us like, “Why are you here?”
It bothered me. My step-mom and I both said something. There were a few other black women with us and we all noticed it. We wanted to ask, “Why are you looking at us like we aren’t supposed to be here?” because black women have been at these rallies. Black women have been marching forever. We’ve been at events that weren’t even for us to support everybody getting equal treatment and everybody being uplifted.
Another thing I noticed was on the way to the march, with all the black protests I’ve been to, was how the Metro guards and the police were like, “Oh just go through!" and “You don’t have to pay, it’s fine!” giving people high fives and hugs — smiling at them. At other protests, you see the policemen with guns, war outfits, shields, masks, and their boots. But on Saturday, they were in normal uniform — nothing different. Everyone was nice, cheering and happy, hugging each other.
It’s because, when the crowd is made of black people they treat us like animals. They cage us in, they yell at us, they threaten us — they just treat us like dirt. But when it's predominantly white people and white women, it's like everything is rainbows and sunshine. Everybody matters and everybody is important. It's as if they're saying, “We’ll treat you like a human being.”
Once we actually got to the march, there were still a lot of white women, but more women of color. There was music playing, people with signs, lots of people smiling and cheering, and gathering around to march. There was a drum circle with indigenous women [read thread] and the white women were just dancing, as if they were making a mockery of it and not respecting it. They were taking pictures and making videos and not realizing that this is important to someone, that this is someone's culture and you should respect it.
A lot of white women who were telling other people, “I voted for Trump, but I'm out here protesting because I don't want to get rid of Obamacare.” We [Moody and her family] just did what we normally do. Smiled at people, interacted with everyone, and marched and protested and walked, trying to make the best out of a situation even though it felt like some people didn't want us there.
“Imagine what would happen if all these white women who came out to protest birth control came out when black people are getting killed by police in the streets?”
There were some white women that I could tell were actual intersectional feminists. They would wear things like Black Lives Matter clothing, and those signs that make it clear that we support these rights for people of color. But the large majority did not show that, in my opinion. One of the speakers got up and said, “Black women have been protesting forever. If you feel like you're being disrespected, if you feel like people are abusing their authority against you, if you feel like you have no control over your body, welcome to being a black woman.” When she said that, all of the crowd that was cheering, “Yay Planned Parenthood!” and “Yay! Pro-choice!” but when anyone said anything about being a black woman, or black people, or police brutality, they got quiet. So it was like, Okay you support everything that directly affects you, but if it’s about anyone other than you, you don’t care?
I saw a lot of women who bought packs of pads, handing them out to people with markers writing, “We don't want taxes for women's sanitary products!” and “We shouldn't be charged for our periods, for nature”" I understand that and respect that, but at the same time, I'm seeing these women passing out pads and writing on them, sticking them on walls, while there are literally homeless women less than 500 feet away from me. There are women sitting there with everything that they own at the protest, still marching, but you think this is more important. But you go out and buy pads and then waste them on walls? That's saying that you can just afford to waste them like that, you know? I actually ended up walking up to some of them being like, "There's a [homeless] woman right here who needs you." Don't tell me that you are supporting all of these women. We were two blocks away from a homeless shelter. A couple of them were like, "Oh, it's just protesting." But there were two who were like, "Yeah you're right. You know, I'm going to take these off and give them to the ladies." But the majority said it wasn't that big of a deal.
The march was still really nice, and it was refreshing to see a lot of people showing support for Black Lives Matter that weren't black. It was nice seeing all the people coming out and hearing people cheering and trying to stand together, but they need to do that more often. Overall, it was a good experience for me but, at the same time as a black woman, I felt like we weren't respected, and we need to be respected more at all of these events. I think it's important that women go out — that we all go out — and we protest and stand up against anything we feel isn't in our favor. But at the same time, imagine what would happen if all these white women who came out to protest birth control came out when black people are getting killed by police in the streets? What if they came to protest about Flint's water that is still dirty or Sandra Bland's murder?
There are all these events going on in this world, but they just sit by and watch it on Facebook as if saying, "If it's not affecting me, then I don't care."
You say that you love all women but you only do it when it affects you. You are only going out and marching when it's convenient for you, when you feel like your voice matters. But when everybody else, people of color and minorities are struggling and we are getting beaten by police at protests and we are walking peacefully, you have nothing to say. Use your voice. Use that voice all the time.