Many of us felt like the inauguration of Donald Trump changed our world. On January 21, 2017, many of us took to the streets to march and speak up for women across the United States and the world. However, I noticed that many of my brothers were missing.
The Women’s March on Washington reportedly had over one million people in attendance. “Sister marches” swept across many other major cities in the United States and the world. Much smaller towns like Greenville, SC held their own marches. Even folks in Antarctica made it a point to show up for women.
I marched through the streets of New York City with hundreds of thousands of women. The energy was electric. The tone of the event was respectful and courteous between marchers. Even in huddled crowds on streets way too small for us, I witnessed many instances of people looking out for another. Many of us, by necessity, splintered off into smaller groups before rejoining the official march route on 5th Avenue.
I am in awe of what I’ve seen in these marches across the world. As hopeful as it makes me to see so many involved in this revolution of resistance, I am also saddened. I found myself surrounded by mostly women, some women of color. Overall, I found Black men were noticeably absent.
Historically, women have been a huge part of progress in our country. Black women, in particular, have been incredibly visible in the Black Lives Matter movement. The cause has been led and organized by Black women.
I realize that there are many concerns about how mainstream feminism often fails to adequately and properly address intersections. I’m not sure if the Women’s March (at least in NYC) could be held to that criticism. That was not my personal experience. There seemed to be no shortage of women of various colors and ethnicities in NYC. However, in all the photos I have seen there has been a vastly underrepresented group in the march in women’s rights and that is Black men. We have to do better.
This is not an indictment, but more a call to action. Black men, we must join the choruses of women and LGBTQ folks fighting for equality. We need the voices of everyone to ensure that every person’s life is considered valuable in the United States, especially under a presidential administration that is controversial at best. Visible allyship, in and of itself, is an important and necessary intervention.
Black men and women have, no doubt, been disappointed by the lack of participation by White folks in the march for progress on racial equality. It has cost some of us our lives. And that is an unfortunate fact (and not an alternative one.) We need White folks to step up and fight for racial justice every day. The work must be done both online and in person.
Organizers of protests and rallies need to be sure to reach out to, and include people of color in their planning processes. Organizers must ensure that we are effectively addressing and respecting all racial, sexual and gender identities as well as the differently abled. Every voice needs to be at the table. White feminists must also join the chorus of voices speaking for racial equality and safety. This is what social justice activists mean by “doing the work”.
Black men, we cannot be complacent. We must do better. I must do better. Our collective success depends on all of us. I encourage you to use your voice along with those who are already fighting for women, LGBTQ folks, indigenous people, and the differently abled. As MLK Jr. once said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
Photo: Getty Images