March Envy:What Does it Mean if Crowds Don’t Show Up to March for Black Women?

I got taken to task on twitter for my stoicism.

It is not my intention to belittle Black women’s desire to be embraced, loved and respected by the larger Black community. I’m not going to ever tell a Black woman that she’s not entitled to feel entitled to being loved and embraced. I will question how you define "love." Some have learned to love and embrace ourselves, but everybody ain’t able. 

There is a new sub-genre of blog posts pointing out the disparities of mass mobilization in the Black community on behalf of Black women and girls vs. the mobilization on behalf of Black men and boys. We’ve commented on this for almost a decade here and heck, read the name of the blog. We’re called What About Our Daughters? for a reason.

People act in their own best interests and some are not invested in the preservation and enhancement of Black women’s lives and never will be.

According to Dr. Treva B. Lindsey, an assistant professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at the Ohio State University, this kind of gender-exclusive narrative

is all too common. ”Prevailing narratives around Black violability and anti-Black racial violence pivot around Black men and boys,” said Dr. Lindsey. “Both historically and contemporarily, when many people working towards racial justice around the issue of racial violence, the presumptive victim is a Black male. From lynching to police brutality, the presumed victim is a Black male. Therefore, Black women and girls are viewed as exceptional victims as opposed to perpetual victims of anti-Black racial violence. Our narratives around racial violence, unfortunately, have

yet to evolve into ones that are gender inclusive. Black Victim=Black Male.”  Salon

So if you are a young Black woman and you’re watching this outright exclusion, what are you supposed to do with that?

Yes, you can call people on their crap and hold them accountable. Now what?  They still aren’t showing up. What do you do now?

I’m almost through reading Viktor E. Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It is a short read, but I am taking my time taking notes. He was a psychiatrist that was sent to a concentration camp during World War II. He founded a theory called “logotherapy.” One of his famous quotes is that the “last of human freedoms” is “to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way”

You are responsible for figuring out  how to cope with circumstances, assign meaning, and move forward.

So what do you want? Do you want equally large rallies? Do you want policy changes? Do you want other people to care about you as much as you care about them?

On October 25, 1997, I, along with a group of about 30 other young Black women from my university attended the Million Woman March in Philadelphia. I’m not a fan of marching in general ( due to our over-reliance on it as a tactic), however, I have to say that that was one of the  best experiences of my life.  I don’t remember a single word anyone said from the stage, but I remember the feeling and I remember the camaraderie among our group that lasted through my final semester in undergrad.

I also know that a WHOLE LOT of money got spent (by the university) sending us to that march. I also know that there was a whole lot of logistical planning and probably more than a bit of fighting about who would get to speak and for how long. I run events, if there is a stage, somebody will want to hop on it.

The Million Woman March was in response to Black women being excluded from the Million Man March. In other words, we’ve been down this road before.

If you NEED a rally and a rally is important to you, then I suggest you get to work organizing your march- knowing that you are going to have to work twice as hard to get half as many folks to show up and rally on behalf of Black women. If numbers are how you signify success, then I suggest you assemble a broad coalition of interest groups with their own grassroots infrastructure.  Knowing that a considerable amount of resources are going to be expended for the rally. But if that’s what you need. That’s what you need.

You are responsible for getting what you need. It would be nice if someone else gave it to you, but they aren’t.

On the other hand, if your goal is to reduce the number deaths that result form law enforcement interactions, then you actually don’t need a massive crowd of people to accomplish concrete, long-term, paradigm-shifting goals. You just need to understand how the levers of power and policy operate in your local community and then go about the business of forming alliances and collaborating with others to meet your goals. And you’re going to need to be committed over the long term. In fact, you could actually leverage the marches that are ignoring you to increase your influence over policy. Trust me, there is an entire ecosystem in DC based on letting other people march while reaping the benefits of the marching.

You have a limited amount of time on this planet, you can spend that time trying to convince other BLACK people that you are a human being worthy of their concern or declare your own worthiness without any permission from anybody. Either way it’s a choice.

Sometimes you have to show up for yourself.

PS. People are showing up for Black women.