Organizers of the Women’s March in Eureka, California have put off their plans to hold a rally this month due to a lack of diversity.
Organizer Beth Ann Wylie posted a statement to Facebook saying that the leadership of the local Women’s March group in Humboldt County, California was too white in order to adequately represent the interests of all women, and that the January 19 event would be put on hold until leadership could be more inclusive of LGBT women and women of color.
“Up to this point, the participants have been overwhelmingly white, lacking representation from several perspectives in our community. Instead of pushing forward with crucial voices absent, the organizing team will take time for more outreach,” Wylie’s statement read. “Our goal is that planning will continue and we will be successful in creating an event that will build power and community engagement through connection between women that seek to improve the lives of all in our community.”
The statement drew both praise and scorn from group members.
“Our crowd wasn’t brown enough? Wasn’t queer enough? Wasn’t transgender enough?” Commented Noel Boquet.
“Organizers have let themselves be duped,” Terri Selfridge wrote in the comments. “What kind of crowd do they expect when you have 77.86% of the population being White? Organizers PLEASE RECONSIDER!!!”
“The amount of white women snarling angrily at an attempt to further diversify the event is a huge indicator as to why this was such an important move,” wrote Robyn Moreno. “I respect the organizers for their decision and I’m proud of their choice to make certain that the Eureka March is that of inclusivity.”
“I applaud the decision,” wrote commenter Barbara J Kilian, who is white. “I have boycotted the march since the beginning as it has been a process that by default has incorporated institutional racism, transphobia and a lack of support of sex workers… Even in this small space, whites are NOT creating space for those who are trying to speak and are instead focused only on their own sense of injustice. This group LISTENED to community members.”
As I wrote last year for Grit Post, the Women’s March in many communities across the country is not seen as a space inclusive and welcoming to all women, and is instead viewed as a space for white cisgendered women. And the depiction of mainstream feminism as something that is by, of, and for white women is not consistent with the actual history of women-led movements for social justice.
As Teen Vogue wrote in 2017, the Women’s Suffrage movement deliberately excluded black women who were fighting for the right to vote. A New York Times article that came out shortly after the inaugural Women’s March talked specifically about the rift between white feminists and women of color who have been silenced and dismissed.
Since 2017, the Women’s March has been a day in which women and their male allies march across the country (and indeed, around the world) in support of policies that uphold and support women and their families. The initial women’s march took place the day after President Trump’s inauguration, and was widely viewed as the most well-attended national public demonstration in U.S. history with as many as four million marching in the U.S. alone.
Shara Smith is publisher of Grit Post. She writes about politics, economics, and social justice issues. Her background is in communications and management. She founded Grit Post after a long career in academia and the nonprofit sector. Follow her on Twitter @writershara or email her at info AT gritpost DOT com.