Black Feminist’s Critique of the January Women’s March


A Black feminist, Ree Walker, got in a whole lot of trouble for a frank critique of the message communicated by the organizers and platform speakers in Washington, D.C.. Published on the Daily Kos website, her article, headed The Black Woman’s ‘Women’s March’ Problem: It Ain’t Just White Folks, basically argued that the march wasn’t feminist enough and that speakers chosen to represent the black community didn’t discuss black women’s oppression.

As I watched speaker after speaker emerge, I began to see a pattern unfold. The white women were mainly centered on feminist issues, while the black women were centered on the plight of black males and with what the Oppressive Black Patriarchy (or what I call the OBP) had deemed as a priority and agenda for black women.

Walker’s piece was written in a style reminiscent of the militantly feminist ’60s and filled with sharp characterizations of many speakers. For instance she called out the female mayor of D.C. as “a black woman who, astonishingly, referred to herself as a ‘chick mayor’,” and said of Michael Moore:

I hear[d] Ashley Judd do what seemed like grabbing the mic from Michael Moore and I was like “Good! Shut the hell up! This is a WOMAN’S march”! He was allowed to go on and on and even said “brothers and sisters” instead of “sisters and brothers”, while wearing a red 49ers cap, (with all of the domestic violence on that team and in the NFL, it was a symbolic trigger to women survivors) and I couldn’t believe it.

Walker’s take on the NAACP was similarly critical:

Then the NAACP spokesperson emerged and I again wondered why she was quoting Hillary Clinton’s “Women’s rights are human rights.” and Sojourner’s “Ain’t I a Woman?” question. Then I thought it’s probably because these types of black women basically don’t know any other quotes from black feminists.

And of March national organizer Tamika Mallory she wrote:

Tamika Mallory [who] is in no way affiliated with anything involving the advancement of black feminist issues. She is only there as an advance person for Sharpton and who is a part of the hustlers who capitalize on the death of black males, never addressing police policy or training. Always getting paid. Not once has she ever done anything around the specific issues of black women or black feminism. Her politics are entirely male centered, which is why, when she spoke, most of the names she rattled off were of black males. But this is who has invaded the space of women and acted in the role of key organizer and representative of black women, in an international women’s march. She said, “We have a chance to get this thing right”. However, she is not the right one to do so. The message was coming through loud and clear at this point, that even within women’s marches, where black women are at the helm, black women’s specific issues are marginalized, barely mentioned or deemed as unimportant and divisive.

Throughout the piece Walker’s assessment is undoubtedly hard-hitting.  But tough doesn’t mean unwarranted or untrue.  However, it caused a firestorm of critical comments and accusations of transphobia and religious bigotry that ended in Walker being banned from the Daily Kos. We at Meeting Ground Online believe she was banned for her radical politics, not for bigotry. One can respect individual civil rights while at the same time be very clear about the male supremacist politics that continues to influence people’s behavior and choices. See what you think; the offending passages are as follows.

Is this islamaphobic or anti-patriarchy?

… a Muslim woman spoke about their plight as Muslim women. Why they think they will ever be free under a patriarchal religious construct makes not one bit of sense. If you really want liberation, then take those shrouds off, get rid of the patriarchal made up male god worship and be women that say “No more”. The contradictions in their stance at a woman’s march is just too obvious and insulting to women who are really about true liberation for women. I am not saying they deserve violence or discrimination. Not at all. I am saying however, that they are conforming to a religious construct that is by definition, oppressive to women and trying to justify it and they need to rid themselves of that patriarchal religion in its entirety, that has them shackled in the first place, just as all women within the confines of religious patriarchy should.

Is this transphobic or a frank take down of transgender ideology and exposure of the negative side of some of the actions of trans activists?

… It was also insulting to see Janet Mock …Janet is not a woman but is a trans woman. Yet stood up there as if her looks make her representative of all black women and mentioned the black women leaders and icons and our historical figures as if they are hers. This was just beyond ridiculous. Considering the fact that Mock seems to think that women have some sort of a privilege because they have vaginas and because they are actual women (black women clearly didn’t get the memo on that one) and then, as she said on Oprah’s show, that if trans women have the look of pretty black women, then they are somehow protected from violence. Also considering as well, her stance to defend the institution of sex work when black women and girls are dying in it, I don’t understand this person being included in a woman’s march. … I can accept trans women as allies if they acknowledge women as women and don’t invade our “women only” spaces, uninvited, call themselves lesbians and expect lesbian women to sleep with them, when they aren’t and don’t try to redefine our anatomy and rename us because they feel like it. But they are not representational of black women any more than trans men are representational of men.

Walker concludes,

The OBP and its handmaidens are alive and well, even at a women’s march. … Where are all of the true voices of black women feminists? Maybe they will be at the next one. Maybe we will have to form our own. Maybe they were at the various plenary sessions that weren’t filmed for broadcast. But there is no excuse as they should have been front and center. Because this idea that maintaining the black patriarchy instead of dismantling it and allowing mammified women, still duped by a male god concept and black male superiority, to speak for us and for sperm producers to represent us, is not going to cut it.

To read the remainder of this honest, powerful and thought-provoking article, click here.

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