The Women’s March: A polarizing protest

Amarachi Ekekwe and Kiera McGee

Too tired to be angry

By Amarachi Ekekwe

There have been very few times in my life where I have felt like I didn’t belong, and most of these times have occurred at the University during my nearly three years here. Whether it was after the WVBU radio incident my first year or sitting in a class where I was the only student of color, there have been many times when I questioned my decision to accept my Posse scholarship and attend this University.

One of the more recent times where I questioned my decision was after the election of Donald Trump; it will take a while until I can call him my president. The day after the election, it felt like a tornado hit campus, and there were very few students who weren’t hit. I couldn’t help but notice the sadness that plagued many of the students, faculty, and staff on campus and it was very hard for many of my friends and me to walk around campus, sharing these same feelings.

You might be thinking to yourself, why wasn’t I sad, depressed, or bothered? Although there were many reasons, the main reason was because what people said would be the worst four years of their lives was the definition of what my life had consisted of for 20 years.

This was also the main reason why I didn’t want to go to the Women’s March. Apart from being genuinely scared that I would get caught in the crossfire of police trying to suppress and subdue protesters, I didn’t feel the need to march because I felt like my identity and experiences as a black person would be overshadowed by the fact that now white women felt like their lives were in danger.

Now don’t get me wrong, I feel for every group who has been targeted and will now suffer for four years because of the people who decided to vote for Trump, not because he was the better president, but because it was better than having a woman in office. However, I couldn’t and still can’t seem to understand where all of these students were when the lives of students of color were threatened through microaggressions, or spontaneous acts of racial discrimination by students under the influence. Where were white students when students of color had die-in’s in the library, or when we stood out in the cold and begged to be heard by students, staff, faculty, and administration?

I’ve yet to see such a following behind students of color, international students, Muslim students, and other underrepresented groups as I have seen with issues affecting white students on campus. Where was our bus to Washington for the ‘Justice for All’ march in December 2014 to protest the murders of unarmed black people? Where are the buses to various airports to protest the detaining of citizens, visa holders, and refugees?

The University’s students have definitely shown me where their priorities lie, and for the most part, those priorities don’t include students of color. I didn’t go to the Women’s March because I’m tired of white people only paying attention to my people once their person-hood is at risk. After all, “some people create their own storms, then get upset when it rains,” and if we’re being honest, people of color aren’t the ones who elected Trump.

A march in the right direction

By Kiera McGee

On Jan. 21, millions of demonstrators around the world gathered in unprecedented masses to participate in the Women’s Marches. While the protests were centered around the assertion that “women’s rights are human rights,” they tackled a range of other sociopolitical issues including climate change, racial equality, LGBTQ+ rights, religious freedom, and immigration and healthcare reform. The plethora of misogynistic statements made by President Donald Trump served as a catalyst for the movement, conceived in November as a direct response to the election results.

From a purely statistical standpoint, the marches were a resounding success. The Women’s March on Washington drew roughly 500,000 protesters, making it the largest single-day demonstration in our nation’s history; furthermore, the turnout was three times larger than the crowd that gathered at Trump’s inauguration. Feminists from all walks of life made themselves seen and heard as they proudly marched side by side, speaking for themselves as well as those who lacked the privilege to do so. In light of the injustice and regression that has commanded the political sphere for the past several months, the triumph of the Women’s Marches was a breath of fresh air.

And yet, in the days following and leading up to the marches, my social media pages were sprinkled with criticisms of the movement’s efforts and goals. At first, it was difficult for me to understand why anyone who supports the promotion of social justice and human rights would ever stand against such an impactful, progressive crusade. As I read further, however, I began to fully understand and even relate to the frustrations surrounding the marches, especially as a woman of color.

At the risk of oversimplification, some believe that the Women’s Marches promoted and encouraged a specific kind of feminism (i.e. white feminism) rather than an inclusive, intersectional brand. And yes, we should absolutely be concerned about the way in which this predominantly white movement was perceived by the media and law enforcement in comparison to Black Lives Matter protests. We should speak out against those blunders and missteps that accompany even the most progressive campaigns.

I regret to admit that the fight against racial inequality will not end soon, and neither will the fight against gender inequality. Those of us who are devoted to such causes will be brothers and sisters in arms for many years to come. While the Women’s Marches were not flawless in execution, I am more than satisfied with their outcome. They were a much needed step in the right direction, particularly in the face of our deeply polarized political landscape.

The president has specifically utilized the power of racist and sexist statements to propel him into a position of immense influence. His deeply ingrained biases will undoubtedly seep into his work, furthering the discrimination and oppression of marginalized Americans through legislative measures. I want nothing more than to see white faces in the fight against racism, but I strongly believe that progress can only be achieved by joining hands and looking toward the future.

As the feminist movement grows in breadth and popularity, I foresee it becoming more intersectional. It is true that history has neglected to include marginalized groups of women in mainstream feminist efforts. Women of color have every right to be concerned and dubious about the Women’s Marches. However, the massive outpouring of support for those affected by Trump’s recent executive order leads me to believe that the spark initiated by the marches is far from being extinguished. Ultimately, I stand in full support of the marches and hope to soon see these goals achieved in an entirely inclusive manner.

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