By Jennifer North
There’s been a ton of discussion about how many marginalized women of color feel within a primarily white feminist movement of activists. Scores of books, articles and blog posts address the reasons for this, so I won’t here.
As I prepare to join the march in Philadelphia this Saturday, proudly standing under our banner with a diverse group of SJWPC members, I have three tips that have come from my year of heavy organizing. If you are or are becoming a racial justice ally (and I hope you will), these tips are important…but, they may strike an emotional cord.
Tip One: Own Your Pussy Hat
Before you decide how you will keep your head warm on 1/20, educate yourself about how marginalized women feel about the pussy hat. If you share SJWPC’s interest in helping women of color and people who are non-binary to feel welcome under our tent, we hope you’ll consider leaving the pussy hat home. If you choose to wear one, don’t justify its use for the movement or tell someone who points it out that they are being divisive. A better reaction might be to explain why the pussy hat is a powerful symbol for you, why you personally choose to wear it and simply apologize if you are contributing to others discomfort.
Tip Two: Center Marginalized Women
If you have the opportunity to be on camera or to speak to the media, offer that opportunity to someone marginalized. If you are someone who often has the microphone, this would be the day to relinquish it. If you are someone who rarely has the microphone, we hope that we can amplify your voice and that you will feel safe speaking up.
Tip Three: Interacting with the Police
There will be a large police presence at the march. Philadelphia police are known for their history of police brutality, especially against activists. Philadelphia police still utilize stop and frisk. Our platform stands against mass incarceration and the racial inequity of the criminal justice system. We want our members to be and to feel safe and hope that you will avoid confrontation with the police during this march. We also hope that our members who are not racial justice advocates will refrain from offering hugs to police officers. Yes, some are good people, but that’s not the point.
It’s not easy fighting for racial justice on a daily basis, and it’s also not easy working with people who have different backgrounds and communication styles. But the work is critically important. Join me under the South Jersey Women banner.