The left has once again begun turning on itself and succumbing to infighting. On January 20, 2017, Donald Trump was inaugurated as president of the United States. On January 21, 2017 more than two-and-a-half million Americans joined Woman’s marches around the country to protest various aspects of the Trump administration’s plans.
By January 22, 2017 the members of the left began to complain about the march. “Where have all these people been? Why were white women only marching now? Where have they been before this?”
First of all, let’s start with the election itself. Hilary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 million votes.
So, a lot of the women at the marches were there for round 1 and they were showing up for round 2, and the painful rounds to come.
I made this point in response to a critique of the marches, and someone said that white women have not been present for a lot of social justice fights. The assertion was that these marches were the first time white women have cared of thought about social justice.
They have been there all along. What do people think Hillary Clinton has been doing all her career? (Trump supporters don’t need to bother to answer. This is a conspiracy-free post.) What do people think Elizabeth Warren has been fighting for all these years?
Maybe those people are too high profile? Too big? What about all the white women who were out there protesting for the the right to vote and part of anti-slavery societies? Harriet Beecher Stowe? Elizabeth Cady Stanton? Susan B. Anthony?
Maybe those don’t count because they are too far in the past?
All right, let me give two recent examples of people I’ve met.
Gale Cincotta was a community organizer in Chicago who was famous for giving banks a hard time about redlining communities — particularly minority communities — on Chicago’s west side. Her work led to the creation of the Community Reinvestment Act, which required banks to make loans and investments in low-income communities. She was a tough character, but she was also mentoring younger women and trianing them to join the fight for social justice for all groups of people.
Second is Mary Houghton, one of the four founders of ShoreBank, which helped to launch the community development banking movement both in the U.S. and around the world. The mission was to make loans and provide financial services in underserved communities, starting with the south side of Chicago.
I could go on, because there are many others. But the point is this, the left needs to stop turning on itself and start paying attention to its own history. Maybe someone’s particular problem wasn’t solved, but grassroots movements are often local and don’t always get the attention they deserve.
So, did white women suddenly wake up to social justice on January 21, 2017?
They continued the work they have been doing for along time.
So the left should stop turning on one another and start working together to keep the positive momentum going.