Women's March Reflection
As an African Muslim woman in America, I don’t actually identify with mainstream white feminism. Although many of the issues plaguing the white women in America impact me as well, white feminism doesn’t have my interests at heart. Its goal is not to overturn white power and oppression as a system in general, but to nudge white women a little higher on this totem pole of oppressors and the oppressed. I do identify with many of the concepts of feminism, in terms of ending the oppression of all women in all forms, but disagree with the means of obtaining the end to oppression. With that being said, I attended the women’s march in Chicago. It felt good to be validated and surrounded by people who supported my rights as a woman, and I’m glad I went to support this movement, even if its outcome would only slightly improve my condition as an African Muslim woman. I appreciated the chorus of male voices shouting “her body, her choice,” in response to the female voices’ “my body my choice.” This delineated the support and solidarity without imposing or appropriating the struggle, which is important. Despite the fundamentally differing ideologies, my group of friends and I initiated a chant “my hijab, my choice” which was echoed throughout the massive crowd “her hijab, her choice,” mirroring the aforementioned chant.
Unfortunately, I’m certain that my support of this movement would not have been reciprocated. How many of the white women at this march would have been caught at a Black Lives Matter rally? As much as I would like to be wrong, we are not all in this together; many of the very same white women marching and chanting along with me actively supported the man who incited violent hate crimes against people who look exactly like me. The man who will set civil rights backward for people who look like me by decades. Many of these same women make excuses for the murderers of Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Aiyana Jones, Meagan Hockaday, and countless other African women executed by the state. These same women are nowhere to be found when African trans women are routinely murdered and assaulted. Where were they when an Oklahoma City police officer raped over a dozen African women? My ideal women’s march is one that champions the rights of all women, and that can’t exist without dismantling white power, which mainstream white feminism has no interest in. As I marched along cheering and chanting, I looked out at a sea of white faces, with the occasional brown or black face sprinkled in. The feminism represented at this march was far from intersectional, and I got the overarching impression that I did not belong there, and this movement was not for me. No one referred to this group of protesters as “rioters” or “thugs,” in the news, as they would have the members of Black Lives Matter. Attending this march and witnessing the public response to it was just another subtle reminder of the repulsive double standards in American society that cost many Africans their freedom, and even their lives.