Women’s March on Washington: White Women, Check Your Privilege

"Women, whether transgender or cisgender, are mistreated in this society," and have been "insulted, demonized, and threatened" during the past election cycle, so now plans are in place for a march with "numbers too great for administration to ignore on their first day in office...for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families...”

Women's March on Washington: Minnesota to DC Facebook logo.

St. Paul, MN The opposition to the election of President-elect Donald J. Trump is organizing a national march to take place the day after his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2016.  The event called “The Women’s March on Washington” has thousands of followers on Facebook, and has birthed off-shoots for local marches to occur on the same day across the country, including in Minnesota.  

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The Minnesota Facebook event page answers the “Why march?” question with:

“Because the rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us. We will march in numbers too great for administration to ignore on their first day in office. We march and stand together in solidarity with our partners and children for the protection of our rights, our safety, our health, and our families — recognizing that our vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of our country.”

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According to the information posted on Facebook, the march is meant for women to “stand together in the face of injustice.”  The idea began with a small group of women in Hawaii, who decided to march on Washington in January.  They shared the event with the group “Pantsuit Nation” and were surprised by “thousands of sign-ups by the hour.”  The event was started primarily by white women.  After taking criticism from women of color for the march’s name (close to the historic MLK march in the ‘60s), as well as being alerted that minority and LGBT women did not feel confident that the issues they face would be in the forefront of the march, the event’s national organizers called on three social justice warriors, Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour, and asked them to work as National Co-Chairs along with national march organizer Bob Bland  and her team.

(Above: Carmen Perez, Tamika D. Mallory and Linda Sarsour explain the Women’s March on Washington concept on a Facebook livestream.)
In order to ensure that the issues with which women of color face are at the forefront of the event, the group released the following statement:
It is important to all of us that the white women who are engaged in this effort understand their privilege, and acknowledge the struggle that women of color face. We have and will continue to encourage our state organizers to reach out to women from all communities. This means not only asking them to join the WMW, but also challenging our new community to show up in support of the efforts of other activists and fighters for justice.

The event may have begun as a solidly grassroots movement, but with the inclusion of Mallory, Perez and Sarsour, the organizers have opened the event up to funding from progressive activist organizations.  Tamika D. Mallory is the former* National Executive Director of Al Sharpton’s “National Action Network” as well as being a founder of March4Justice and the Justice League NYC.  She and Carmen Perez are also are part of “The Gathering for Justice;” an organization that is part of Harry Belafonte’s Sankofa Justice and Equity Fund.  Sankofa is financially supported by “The New World Foundation” – a social justice organization closely aligned with other progressive funding groups including George Soros’ “Open Society Foundation” and “Democracy Alliance.

In Minnesota, there are two groups working with the national march organizers; one group is organizing the “Women’s March on Washington – Minnesota” event, and another group is in charge of sending a contingent of Minnesota women to DC for the March.

The Minnesota march has both a Facebook page and a website.  According to the group’s Facebook event planning page, the women listed as administrators include:  Alena Temple, Kate Redden, Bethany Bradley, Jen Nifer and Alicia Mai.  There is one blog post on the website, with a byline reading only “Bethany.”  

The Minnesota march will also take place on Jan. 21, 2017.  Starting at 10am, the group plans to meet on the John Ireland Blvd Bridge in front of Minnesota History Center for an hour of meet-and-greet and a motivational speaker, after which they will march to the Capitol where there will be a rally from 12-2pm with entertainment and speakers.  The event invite lists 4,100 people as “going.”

Women's March on Washington: Minnesota to DC Facebook logo.
Women’s March on Washington: Minnesota to DC Facebook logo.

The group working to get Minnesota women marching in Washington DC seems to be led by a woman named Gloria Evenson.  The group has reserved 11 buses at a cost of $120,000, with tickets from Minneapolis or Duluth costing about $250 each.  1,100 Facebook followers have marked “going” on the event page.

Women attending the national event or a march in their local area are being encouraged to show their solidarity by making (or having someone else make) a “pussyhat” at the event.

the-pussyhat-projectClaiming that “Women, whether transgender or cisgender, are mistreated in this society,” and that wearing the “pussyhats” is a way of demanding fair treatment and standing up for women’s rights.

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For those crafty women who want to contribute to the cause and/or may not be able to attend, the Pussyhat Project organizers have provided the following forms for hat creators to include with their completed hat donation.

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*CORRECTION: Mallory is no longer the National Executive Director of NAN.

Updated 12/14/16 8:44am