Political protests must be intersectional

For a majority of the country, the past few weeks have left us physically and mentally drained. Our country is more divided than ever and our rights are being stripped away.

The new administration and the policies they are implementing will reverse centuries of social and economic efforts.

The heinous and unfathomable statements spoken by the leader of the most powerful county in the world are not representative of its citizens. However, the civil unrest and demand for equal rights and treatment the people of the United States have been exercising is representative of the history of the fight for democracy that is currently under threat.

When human rights are under attack by a leader with fascist tendencies, an uprising is bound to follow. Organizing directly within your community creates a platform for individual voices to be heard.

In smaller protests, there’s more opportunity to accommodate groups who continue to feel marginalized within our society, however, larger events can push these people to the sidelines.
The Women’s March that took place on Jan. 21 produced 670 individual marches worldwide in support of Women’s Rights and various other causes.

The protests in Washington D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles and New York alone totaled over 2 million people. The rest of the world marched in solidarity including locations such as Tokyo, Dublin, Paris, Kenya, London and more.

Throughout history, marginalized groups have protested injustices of every kind. People of color, women and the LGBTQ community are constantly fighting for their rights. People of color’s activism are often criminalized and silenced by police and labeled as riots. Now is the time to dismantle the assumption that protestors of color start fires and deface property. The new administration aims to divide people by race.

The Women’s Marches have been criticized for not providing enough intersectionality. The emphasis on genitalia left people who identify as a woman but lack the reproductive organs feeling ignored and invalidated. Working towards inclusionary feminism is crucial when standing in solidarity. According to Vox, all of the original organizers of the marches were white. The lack of diversity within the organizing led to skepticism about whether the march’s agenda would be a safe space for everyone.

“Inclusive and intersectional feminism calls upon all of us to join the resistance to racism, to Islamophobia, to anti-Semitism, to misogyny, to capitalist exploitation,” Angela Davis said during the march in Washington D.C.

The media coverage of the march’s mostly displayed genitalia-based signs such as “pu**y grabs back” or an image of a vagina. Controversial images surfaced of white women posing with white male police officers who were wearing the symbolic “pu**y hat.” People of color on the internet voiced their concern with this support, accusing law enforcement of being biased to white protestors.

Sarah Jackson, an assistant professor of communications at Northeastern University explained that the skepticism is based in history. “Historically, and today, it has largely been women of color, queer and lesbian women, poor women, sex workers, and women with disabilities whose lived experiences have been excluded from the gains of mainstream feminism,” Jackson said.
Educating yourself and others on the importance of intersectionality and supporting marginalized community members, family and friends during times of extreme xenophobia is the first step in unlearning problematic behavior.

It’s imperative that white allies understand their place in the struggle for freedom in order to elevate voices of color who lack the privileges.