January 2017’s women’s marches were largely celebratory as pink-hatted women across the country turned out in record numbers to protest the Trump presidency.
A year later women have learned it’s not enough to gather in solidarity. We need an action plan. This past Sunday’s Las Vegas Women’s March rose to the challenge with the theme, ‘Power at the Polls.”
The Las Vegas event was a rally not a march. Four thousand people, mostly women and girls, gathered in Sam Boyd Stadium where they sat in bleachers facing an outdoor stage and listened to speakers pressing them to get out the vote to elect women running in the midterm elections and to support progressive candidates.
While the crowd was predominantly white the speakers were predominantly young women of color who called out white women for their white privilege and their token support for women of color.
Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood President, one of the first speakers and a white woman, chastised her white sisters:
“The Women’s March fueled a feminist revolution . . . White women, listen up. We’ve got to do better. … It is not up to women of color to save this country from itself. That’s on all of us.”
Richards reminded us that it was black women who turned the tide in the recent Alabama election defeating a Republican pedophile. It was a black woman, Tarana Burke, that founded #metoo. It was young black women that founded Black Lives matter.
Among the challenges I heard from women of color:
“It’s not enough to wear a pink hat. . . . It’s not enough to say you’re with us and then not be in the streets with us. . . . It’s not enough to be ‘woke;’ be an accomplice. . . If you’re white, scoot your chair over and make room for us.”
The speakers hit many of the critical issues facing us: support for the Dreamers, immigrant rights, reproductive rights, LGBT and transgendered rights, equality for women of color, #metoo, and union organizing for fair wages. What was missing were calls to address climate change and our bloated military budget which is largely responsible for cuts in essential social programs which target women, especially low income women.
I was heartened by the presence of scores of young people, especially large numbers of high school students; mothers with young daughters; fathers with kids in tow; elderly women, including a woman in a motorized wheel chair dressed as a Suffragette in memory of her Suffragette grandmother.
In January 2017 I came away from the Washington, D.C. march buoyed by meeting energized women from across the country. January 21, 2018, I was left with the uncomfortable feeling that I need to work harder to address my white privilege while upping my support for women running for office, and for young feminist leaders.
Rev. William Barber, founder of the 2018 Poor People’s March, brought the crowd to their feet when he bellowed: “It’s not enough to be fed up. It’s time to get up! It’s movement time in America!”
Let’s all do our part to move our country away from the White House’s repressive agenda. Let’s organize to move the clock forward. Let’s do it for all those young feminists who deserve a better, kinder world. I’m stepping up for my 13-year-old granddaughter, Jane. Who will you step up for?