I’m grateful for the opportunity to speak here today. None of today’s speakers can fully represent the array of magnificent women in our community. Many of which don’t hold public positions of influence or prestigious titles. Many of whom are disregarded because they are poor and without degrees. Women who refuse to speak imperial English, and use inflammatory language because they live inflammatory lives. Women transcend titles, labels, and organizations. Those just happen to be things that our capitalistic patriarchal society has selected as our most notable qualities, to further its own interests and agenda. But who are we as thinking, feeling, human beings?
As we stand here en masse, lifting up messages of “feminism” and “woman empowerment,” it seems disingenuous to me. Women allowed this very march to be planned by men! Women, neglected to stand up for themselves OR OTHER WOMEN, as important questions were asked by participants who wanted to ensure that this march was as inclusive and intersectional as possible. Women gave the A-OK to speaking at a bar that has created a drink called Nasty Woman in “our honor,” when WE KNOW that alcohol is key factor in most cases of rape and violence against women!
Where is the GRIT and GALL of Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Riviera, Fannie Lou Hammer, Ida. B. Wells, Harriet Tubman, Jane Addams?! Individuals who recognized the intricate ways in which their sex assignment intersected with their race, class, and sexuality, and the various ways that they were oppressed because of them.
We talk a lot about feminine oppression from men. Which is real and active, always. But what are the ways that we oppress one another? I’m looking out into a sea of White women, who are today claiming to be in solidarity with Black women. White women are often the very purveyors of racist aggressions against Black women!
Where is your support and solidarity when Muslim women are getting their hijabs pulled off and being spat upon?! Did you rise up when 270 Nigerian schoolgirls were kidnapped and disappeared?! Did you cry out when over 16 transwomen were murdered last year! No!
It is White women who fail to acknowledge me in the grocery store line, while greeting the person before and after me. It is White women who follow me around at retail stores with questioning glances at my purse and my pockets. It is White women who chose white privilege over gender in the last presidential election. And it is little white girls who are often the first people who call little black girls niggers. So you are also my oppressor!
Therefore, I ask,
WHO WILL STAND UP FOR BLACK WOMEN AND GIRLS?!?!?!
When the dust settles, and the crowds and cameras disperse, THAT is when we need you. That is when your true self is revealed.
I’ll end with a quote by bell hooks:
“The process begins with the individual woman’s acceptance that American women, without exception, are socialized to be racist, classist and sexist, in varying degrees, and that labeling ourselves feminists does not change the fact that we must consciously work to rid ourselves of the legacy of negative socialization.”
Evelyn Reynolds is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Parkland College in Champaign, IL. She graduated with a Master’s of Science in Sociology from Illinois State University in 2009 and has taught college courses for 10 years. In the Fall of 2015, Evelyn co-founded Black Lives Matter: Champaign-Urbana, a chapter of the global #Blacklivesmatter Network.