On Saturday the 21st of January, 100,000 people marched through the centre of London in solidarity with the Women’s March in Washington D.C. A group from Shades of Noir was in attendance, and we have written our reflections on the experience.
“Joining over 100,000 protesters that took to the streets of London in opposition to Donald Trump’s presidency was a significant stance of much needed revolt. It felt like more people were waking up, working together, and realising they have a voice to decline this claustrophobic conformity. I hope that the Women’s March is not an end in itself; it’s merely the beginning of something much more powerful.”
This worldwide Women’s March, that took place from the states to the UK, to Nigeria, (just to name a few), has seemingly erupted in the wake of our current socio-cultural political climate. To many as a backlash to the presidency of Trump and simultaneously as a celebration of womanhood, of sisterhood, of our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, etc of our humanity. A celebration of how far we have come and also how far we have yet to go STILL..
Whilst witnessing this gathering, forming part of the mass myself, reading the banners and posters, chanting and hearing and sharing stories with other women, I also felt an unsettling feeling that lurking in the back of my mind during the march that day. Unable to fully articulate these thoughts nor fully understand them at the time, amongst such a vibe of collective empowerment, celebration, anger and even joy of being surrounded by so many women; I later was able to flesh out and collect these thoughts for further inspection and reflection. As I scrolled through my instagram of posters in the US from others that had also marched last week I came across these images:
‘A woman’s place is within resistance.’ Source: @badonnk
As a black women of mixed heritage, all I’ve ever wanted was to just BE. In this world, a black woman’s place has intergenerationally and historically been within ‘ resistance’, black women have always been marching (and not just on the streets, but daily). We have constantly been fighting against or breaking barriers of oppression, racism, sexism, microaggression, misogynoir, whatever it may be at school, at home, at work, etc it is and has been exhausting. To see young children with their mothers and fathers and families and friends, black, white, brown all united at the women’s LDN march was empowering and may have restored some hope in humanity; but at the same time, it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Reading this image I ask, is this how it is always going to be? Will this always be our place?
Following up with this next image of a poster that reinforces this idea of this continuity of resistance throughout history (facts). Whilst, I’d argue that we currently find ourselves in this odd climate of ‘ collective wokeness’, of uprising and revolt, I wonder why it has taken this long and why it still feels like I am in this weird slow-motion frame in a film entitled: ‘Change’.
A ‘Don’t forget: White Women voted for Trump’ poster.
This image by Angela Peoples went viral, for obvious reasons. This March highlighted and surfaced many facts and issues within feminism that many argued were ‘divisive’ and not the time or place to talk about; but if not NOW when? Black and brown women have been discussing white feminism long enough. Yes, this is the time and place, to write about, to break down and to resolve.
‘I’ll see you nice white ladies at the next #blacklivesmatter march, right?’
Over 100,000 marched that day here in London, I also marched during the protests of #BLM LDN through the same streets not too long ago last year. If this Women’s March is fighting for the rights of ALL women, surely ALL women should also be seen in such numbers at all or most of the marches that fight to break down barriers of ALL women? Including the lives of black, the marginalised, the disabled women, etc..
But, I guess, all hope is not lost?
This article shared by Sarah Boody Many ‘White Women Marched. Now What?’
Here’s some truth white women need to hear. Gives a 3-step action plan for what white women, (by a white women, important!) can actively do in the aftermath of these marches and also refers to the image of the poster shared on instagram by Angela Peoples.
I also came across posts by UK artist Kate Nash marching in Washington DC’s March.
Kate Nash posted on her instagram scenes from the march in Washington DC, amongst others, within these images she also wrote extensively on her own privilege as a white women and the importance of intersectional feminism (this is also something she has been posting about frequently, not just at this particular march) following up with conversations and further discussion on these topics. Both acts displayed by both feminists Kate and Sarah here, are a much needed starting point, an opening to perhaps finally be able to deconstruct white feminism and engage in dialogues that aren’t so exhausting nor always initiated by black or brown women. Feminists such as Kate and Sarah that took to the social mediums to encourage dialogue amongst others is a positive start, now I only hope that the numbers grow as do the discussions and that these aren’t just mere moments captured on social-media, like a flickering flame left to consume itself and disappear…until the next outcry or backlash in response to Trump.
“It was a peaceful and calm march and was an amazing experience, marching in solidarity for the women in America”
“It was a historical moment. Brave and jolly gathering for equality and humanity while the world has recently been going backward. I was so impressed at how creative the people are. But on the other hand, it was such a shame that we have to talk about the direction humanity is going in or funding rights in 2017. It’s hideous.”
I was very moved by the Women’s March on Saturday. As an American abroad, I’ve been watching and reading about Trump obsessively since his election–perhaps in part because it all feels so far away. And it is still completely surreal (nightmarish) that this man has not only been elected president, but follows in the footsteps of a President I found so dignified, inspirational, and intelligent. The contrast is difficult to comprehend–particularly when they were stood side by side at Friday’s inauguration. The ceremony, and the sight of Barack and Michelle getting into a helicopter as private citizens, was very upsetting.How could over 60 million people vote for Trump? (Give or take some Russian interference).
60 million people. Two months later I still can’t get my head around it. But I clearly have even more to learn than I’d realised about my own country.
Having the Women’s March on Saturday was an immediate release for some of the upset. It was imperfect to be sure. Some of the signs on show were revealing in their narrow view of what womanhood is and what sisterhood means–failing to represent feminism as intersectional and inclusive. At the end of the March, I felt like the stage in Trafalgar square with so many people gathered around could have been better utilised as a platform for activist groups and social causes that need direct support. As others have pointed out, the Occupy movement failed to accomplish any lasting policy change or make any major imprint in the makeup of congress –while the much smaller Tea Party Protests on the other side of the political spectrum were much more effective in translating bodies marching on the street into direct political action. I don’t want this March, this tide of resistance from the left, to suffer the same fate.
But despite its imperfections–Saturday gave me hope in a way I had not felt over the last six months; since Brexit and since Trump. These two major changes were ‘won’ by a very narrow margin. On the back of campaigns run on lies, hatred and fear. And here were so many of the people who felt completely at odds with the ways in which the world seems to be turning. Not complacent, not passive, but angry. Visible. And searching for outlets of change. The scale really took me back.
I loved seeing so many children at the march. For the parents struggling to explain the behaviours and occurrences of the last six months—for those trying to show their children how to respond to a figure like Trump and his inhumane treatment of essentially any group that is not cis gender white male (billionaire). This was an opportunity to regain some control. And my hope is that for those flexing this muscle of resistance at such an early age, activism will become more normalised forms of behaviour.
On a personal note, speaking to both of my Grandmas after the March (one is 86 and the other is 78) was very poignant. To think about the America they were born into; the struggles they’ve faced that I can only read about; to be grateful for my privileges, and be stronger in myself facing forward.
The Marches across America were the largest in our history. And that is incredible. But perhaps even more remarkable is that there were marches all over the world. Our fates have become so much more interconnected. A fact that is very humbling. I think in this instance, the number of people who marched was literally disruptive–not just symbolic. Trump is so desperate, in his own way, to be popular. And the Women’s Marches not only overshadowed his inauguration, but they gave some visibility to those who have come under his attack. My hope now, and what I need to work harder towards, is that the March will serve as the beginning; as a catalyst for something deeper, more systematic, and more radical.