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For women of color, protest poses dilemma

By Jerusalem Nerayo

Signs of every shade of pink with calls to salvage tenets of egalitarianism sparked my interests regarding what was to be one of, if not the, largest women’s march spanning the entire globe. I wasn’t ready, however, to buy a pink cat hat and chant on the streets with a group of women, men and children to champion democratic values and scold the current White House administration.

As an Eritrean-American woman, I cheer along movements that advance the statuses of both blacks and women in the United States. I want gender equality. I seek to live in a post-racial society. I idealize a world that doesn’t undermine the value of being a black woman.

But I’m also very much aware of my realities as a black woman. I currently stand to make 73 cents of every white woman’s dollar, and 63 cents of every white man’s dollar. I go the extra mile to explain why my fairly successful education is inclusive to the definition of a black woman when someone remarks otherwise.

So why didn’t I, a citizen who has her own share of beliefs to speak on behalf of, go to the Women’s March? I asked myself this question at a few minutes after 10 Saturday morning, when the nearest march in Oakland was to proceed.

I first wanted to blame voter turnout. Exit polls estimate around 52 percent of white non-Hispanic women and 63 percent of white non-Hispanic men voted for President Donald Trump on Election Day, while majorities of every other color turned in favor of Hillary Clinton.

And because a majority of the white population who went to the polls voted for Trump, I wanted to blame an entire group of people for picking the candidate they were now choosing to protest.

But how could I make such a generalization when I live to break the generalizations people make about me? The white non-Hispanic people coming to protest in the Women’s March most likely did not vote for Trump.

The truth is I was mad. I was an infuriated black woman who saw swaths of protesters around the nation and globe come together to support a range of causes that rooted from the same base– white feminism. There was little to no room for any basis and any foreseeable advancement in marginalized issues.

Where was this sea of support during the Black Lives Matter protests? Where were these democratic activists when injustices poured the nation left and right to the pitfall of members of the African-American community?

I just didn’t hear my calling the day of the Women’s Marches. I wasn’t ready to fundamentally support a cause that wasn’t ready to support me.

For now, I idealize the hereafter. A hereafter in which people of every race, sex, and ethnicity show up in protest to advocate the roots of marginalized movements.

Too often I’ve been a second-rate cause. When white non-Hispanic voters come in droves to embrace and defend an Eritrean-American, they won’t have to look twice to find me at the next Women’s March.

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