While many are celebrating the Women’s March On Washington that happened January 21 2017, I sat on my couch staring at the TV feeling more irritated than inspired. I watched crowds of thousands, overjoyed that finally the message of racism, sexism, homophobia, and any other ism was finally being spread to the masses. The rally cry of, “Our rights are under attack”, was the theme of the day. I wondered as I turned off the TV, ‘where had these women been’? And then this picture came across my social media feed and it summed up everything that I was feeling. A Black woman stood with a sign that shouted the truth, that indeed the majority of White women voted for Trump, as three White women stood behind her, on their phones, taking selfies, as if they were asleep at the wheel. There it was. Everything that I was feeling. A Black woman hard at work to fight injustice and the White women asleep at the wheel or listening to someone give a speech that indeed we had shouted a million times before yet no one heard us.

I was not inspired. I was frustrated. I wanted to scream, WHERE WERE YOU?!

Where were you when we shouted about Sandra Bland dying on a jailhouse floor?
Where were you when we screamed for your husbands to stop fucking us and raping our daughters?
Where were you when Anita Hill was vilified for speaking up against sexual harassment?
Where were you when former officer and convicted rapist, Daniel Holtzclaw, raped Black women?
Where were you when we buried our sons and daughters?
Where were you when Dajerria Becton had a knee on her back and was assaulted by an officer?
Where were you when a young Black girl was thrown across a classroom?
Where were you when Alesia Thomas uttered, “I Can’t Breathe”, after getting kicked in the throat and groin in the back of a patrol car in 2012, before it became a slogan?
Where were you when we marched for Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin?
Where were you when we demanded that Black women MATTERED in this fight against police brutality?
Where were you when this nation sterilized Black, Native American and Puerto Rican women without their consent?
Where were you when Michelle Obama was called an ape, evil, ugly?

Where were you then?

Similar to this picture, you were on your proverbial phone. Resting in your comfort. Sleeping on your bed of privilege. Oblivious to our cries. Turned a deaf ear to our shouts. Until you woke up Wednesday, November 9, 2016 and Trump and his impending policies had stepped on your rose-colored glasses. Until it was your freedoms that were threatened. Until they were coming for your birth control. Until your choice of whether to have a child was in jeopardy. Until it suddenly became inconvenient to just be Becky with the good hair. Until then you were content. You were complacent. It was easy to just appropriate a culture with no connection or concern for the people. It is easy to play the part of Miley Cyrus twerking in your skinny jeans with no regard of the Mapouka dance done in the Ivory Coast of the Dabon. A dance done by our ancestors at religious ceremonies that were culturally respected because they specifically believed that the dance brings them into an encounter with God.  It is safe to wear “boxer braids” because Kim Kardashian did with no concern about the origin and the symbolism of a people that were skilled in agriculture. A hair style traced back to warriors, queens and kings. It was easy to dance along to Beyoncé’s Formation with no clue or desire to know the underlying message she was trying to get across.  And it is easy to march alongside people struggling, staring at your cellphones, in UGG Boots, designer jackets and knitted pink pussy cat hats, taking selfies and curating hashtags for the memories. So thanks for the memories.

Enjoy your Woodstock euphoria as you go home. Back to your lives. Your sanctuary.

And for others the saga and struggle continue. We are here, as we have always been, and if indeed you are about that life, we welcome you for the long haul.

44 thoughts on “Becky, UGG Boots and Pussy Cat Hats

  1. Hannah,

    Your observation matched mine. People of color weren’t represented yesterday to any large degree. I’d like to see the NAACP, oldest civil rights organization partner with some of these other groups for bodies to mobilize change. Some whites have no black friends and have never even seen the black side of town. I stand with you, but I know my goal is not to be a burden to the black community who has been fighting for centuries. My goal is to educate white people who seem to “feel bad” but haven’t a clue to their role in systemic racism as people of privilege. I will fight for you and help you to fight. Thanks for speaking up and standing up. I’ll work to get more white people to show up more informed, less ignorant, and less segregated by racial lines. We must fight separately and together, but our goals at times must be segregated. White people need to wake up to being woke. Black people are woke.

    You inspire me. Thanks!

    Tina

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tina. You get it. We all must fight if we are going to truly impact this world! I truly believe if people can come to grips with “feeling bad” and one way to do that is to acknowledge what is happening not turn a blind eye, say it was years ago or try to justify or explain away issues, we can move faster down this road. The first step is always acknowledging the problem. Sadly, most people try to justify the problem and so here we sit.

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  2. All thou annoying AF I know that these protest would had resulted in more black lives lost . So if Becky with the Ug can spark change Go head we still have to fight the fight on the home front for our families.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m not sure how I feel about this opinion. When I looked at that same picture I had a number of different thoughts but none of them stood out to make me think of the white women who were snapping photo while the black woman held the sign were in any way being derogatory. I think the symbolism could be perceived in that manner but those white women were out there enduring the cold just as the woman holding the sign was. Both were out marching with the same cause in mind and the focus was on solidarity…and now here is this, driving a wedge between the solidarity and creating a divide. We should be unified no matter our race sex or creed..when I stood next to 12000 people yesterday not a single thought of racism went through my head but instead I felt an overwhelming sense of togetherness. I would love to just leave it at that. The people came together; whether it was a bit late for some or maybe too early for others, it came. We came, we saw and we certainly conquered. As a white woman I am very aware of my privilege and I work hard every day to serve the public and these concerns are always in my forefront — I want to live in a just world where everyone is equal-and I would love to think that yesterday was a small blip in time but I sure felt like everyone around me were as close as close could be, which was stellar and empowering and inspiring and a reminder; stronger together.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Erin for your comment. Let me start by saying a difference of opinion is not necessarily a cause for dissent or division but often can be a step towards elevation, self analysis, critical thinking and enhanced understanding. Because you are White and I am Black, we may often look at the same photo, situation or circumstance and see them differently because you are not me and I am not you. What I have had to carry on my shoulders, indeed you may not, which is why I am glad that you recognize your privilege. It is that same privilege which allows you to view my blog as something that is “driving a wedge” instead of pausing and asking yourself, “Hmmm I wonder why she thinks that way” or “Where does this train of thought come from” and then ask, “Is there any validity in the way that she feels?”

      Indeed we should be unified, however we aren’t. And we aren’t because of many things and one key reason is because we do not stand with one another in times of conflict, trials and tribulations. Often times issues are seen as “their issues” and until it is “your issues” or “our issues”, people remain silent.

      I am delighted this experience for you was stellar, empowering and inspiring. And I challenge you in that euphoria to ask yourself and others in your inner circle, “And now what?”

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    • “not a single thought of racism went through my head” is part of your privilege. Please understand that for every WOC, the thought of racism is constant- its an unwelcome paranoia. Bringing up our concerns and struggles is not divisive. You saying it is divisive is divisive.

      Liked by 1 person

      • In a nutshell. It is nice to be able not to “think” about race. The only time I EVER knew what that felt like was when I went to Senegal. I think about my race daily from shopping in a store, to driving, to my job. It is always there. However as you said, to be able to go to an event and “not have a single thought of race” speaks exactly to this article. That’s it! And thank you for understanding bringing up an issues is not divisive. When I had events and people offered a critique, I listened because perhaps, just perhaps, there was something I could glean from that to make the event better, to make me better, etc. Sometimes you (rhetorical you) have to step outside of yourself and the event, to receive the message. Thank you for your comments! Truly!

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  4. I know I can’t truly understand. I know I haven’t walked in your shoes. I know I have failed at times. While much you say is true, you dilute a great day, a great coming together, perhaps a great beginning.
    I also know you judge me without knowing me (and many others) who have spoken out and fought and angered family, friends and neighbors as we spoke out against all the things you accuse us of not caring about. Playing right into the bigots hands are we, not accepting one another, not appreciating each other even if it is just baby steps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do not know you, MaryAnn (my mother’s name) yet you judge me by assuming I have judged you. I do not know who you are, more than likely never will, so I do not reserve time in my life to focus on judging you. Be that as it may, I thank you for taking the time and read and comment and start a conversation. And I am glad you speak out to your friends and neighbors. You do not need to justify that with me. If it is settled in your heart, so be it. Fight on!

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      • You summed up so neatly my experience yesterday. So much of the chanting was about white women’s fear of losing access to reproductive choices (even if their signs nodded toward inclusion of people other than themselves). I saw no real interaction between differing groups nor did I see groups with multiculti members. Almost all were groups of white women, a few groups of African American women, some few men sprinkled about, etc

        Liked by 1 person

      • As a participant at the event, thank you. I have heard this from several others that attended and wondered how it could be different? We need to find those places where we meet. I cannot understand why our issues are not seen as issues that many people have? You care about education, so do I! You care about the economy, guess what? So do I! You care about healthcare? So do I! You want your children to have healthy food and clean water? Imagine that! So do I! The list is endless and where we don’t have the same issues, I care because of your humanity! I care because you are human. I care because I care about fairness. I care because it is right to do right! I care about many issues that do not directly affect me because when someone does better we ALL do better. Until we work together and stop seeing it as “their issues” we will always be here. When I just wish we can see it is “our issues”. The plane is on fire! And when the plane is on fire, no one cares about coach or first class, they care about survival! It is time to move beyond that place of comfort and if people were truly moved and inspired to do more, start doing more! And how that looks is different for everyone. Find your more and then do it!

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  5. This is on point. Hannah’s experiences are valid. Period. I personally feel that in no way does pointing out entrenched active racism and/or racial ignorance ever dilute, distract, or detract from a message of equality or justice. It lies at the center of such a movement. It seems to me to be an affront to justice to participate in the Women’s March, pat ourselves on the back, and then go home and allow women of color to continue to be targetted. Like going to a march gives us a pass on other things?!? As a white man, I deserve to have some anger directed at me because I have been passive as these things have happened. My heritage is stained with the blood of people of color. While I may have taken action or spoken up about some of Hannah’s points, I didn’t do that for all. I have been ignorant to some of them, and I feel deep shame for that. I am not involved with demanding action and justice for women of color like I should be. I need to be real with myself and take direction from impacted folks, not criticize and try to silence them. And we (I’m talking to you white people) need to not seek platforms of comfort for our shame, we need to stop attacking others that make us feel shame for our whiteness or maleness, if we are ashamed then we need to look at why and address it.

    We need to be talking about intersections. Where does feminism intersect with racism intersect with class? Why is it that women of color are often left out of conversations on feminism? Why were black women left out of decision-making in the Civil Rights Movement? Is this still happening today? Feminism was founded by economically stable white women, is it still dominated by white women? Is feminism still only for the economically stable? Why can’t a black woman point out how their experiences and needs aren’t being represented or addressed within feminism without white people saying they are “playing into the bigots hands?” This shit is complicated and we need to have hard conversations to understand it. I do not pretend to know the answers, but I know there are problems. Thank you for starting this conversation Hannah and I look forward more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Tyler. I love to write and I write for social justice. I work at a company that uses art innovation to bring about change. And my boss is always asking me, “And now what, Hannah?” It used to drive me crazy! But he was right! There is always a now what? Most people stop at the euphoria. And trust me, I was one of those people. You do something or participate in something transformative and you are feeling great and then what? He pushed me to keep using my words to move policy. It was Art in Action and that is what I am working on-how can I use my art bring about awareness, challenge people and push policy changes?

      I think you completely get it and I think the discomfort people feel is exactly where I want them to be and I challenge them to ask themselves, “Why do I feel uncomfortable with this message?” What is it about this message that is making feel some type of way? It is in that spot that they will find the answer and it’s uncomfortable because it means looking in the mirror and looking throughout history and asking, where was I? Was I asleep at the wheel? Why did I protest at this point and never before? Would I have been protesting these issues for WOC if Hillary Clinton won? Will I continue this fight even if the issues don’t affect me but affects WOC? It stirs up a lot of emotions. The hardest person to examine is yourself and even harder when you have to confront the tough questions. That is why I welcome them all because hopefully this blog will speak to them and challenge them. At the very least as you said, we started the conversation. Thank you for your comments. Well said!

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  6. While we were not represented in the crowd as I thought we should have been, I am most proud of the speakers and for those that were there and who maybe did not acknowledge BLM or the murders of our black men, they received an earful that day on being presented not only on that day but in every part of the struggle. While I agree with the point, I disagree with the message. We need people who are looking for solutions instead of pointing at every little fault. State the point then give people an option on how to do better. While those who were at the March did not rally for Sandra Bland or BLM neither did a lot of us. Just like you sat and watch I was there but I won’t judge the fact that you sat and watch, I will ask you to join me in making moves to eradicate an injustice.

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    • Thank you, Charlene. While you are well within your right, to disagree with my message, I would like to say when a critique is given, it does not need to be viewed as negative, but perhaps a chance to allow for self reflection, overall reflection of the event, and allows for questions to be asked for next time. I applaud you for not judging me for watching the event, when we do not know one another and are unaware of any issues that may not have allowed for me to intend i.e. finances, work obligations, family obligations or simply a desire to continue to fight the good fight in my own city. So thank you. Likewise, I do not judge you for attending. I do not judge anyone for attending. I hope this blog opened up a door for conversation and I know that it has because people have personally messaged me wondering what more can they do now that they are back home in their cities? I am so thankful this blog in its own way has started a conversation, brought about awareness and have even challenged some people. While I thank you for the invitation to join you, I am sure we are both doing a lot in our own little corners of the world to fight injustice. Keep up the good fight and I will do the same. I am certain one day, we will all get there. Respect!

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  7. I am so grateful you wrote this, and that a former colleague who is a black woman shared it with me. I am a white woman who marched in DC on Saturday. Although I have a background in organizing communities of color, have been through many anti-racist trainings, and am married to a black/latino man, it is a continuous journey to recognize my privilege and inherent bias. I have to say when I first read this I felt defensive – of the women in the photo whom you do not know, of the assumption those white people have not supported racial justice in the past, and of the pussyhats (which I thought were a brilliant organizing tool and I knitted one myself!)

    But upon reading it again, and reading the comments, I have checked myself. And realized that my “euphoria” post-march is partially based on my blinders. That I felt overwhelmingly comfortable at the march because it was majority white, and I could feel good by saying it was diverse because there were some people of color, because I attended with a friend who is a black woman, and because we chanted “Black Lives Matter” amongst other things. My feeling was that it was a great show of intersectionality, more than I’ve seen at any mass march I’ve been to, and I still have a lot of hope that many white people were turned on to the racial justice movement, and will be taking actions locally to ensure I help that happen. However, I need to continually realize that I was still viewing it through my lens of white privilege, and when I get defensive to look further into that. To listen better. Hannah, the skillful and loving way in which you’ve responded to these comments is a gift. I appreciate you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for responding, Jenny and even more thank you for pausing and rereading and reading the comments and taking the focus off the messenger but truly reading, understanding and diving into the message. I have found many people are very quick to respond out of emotion instead of pausing and wondering, “Why do I feel this way,” especially if the message is about White women and you indeed are a White woman. Trust me I get it. It would be easy to be dismissive and angry. But you didn’t and that is what I am talking about in this blog. You refused even in your initial feelings to disregard this message.
      I knew when I wrote this the hate mail would be coming. I knew people wouldn’t agree with it. I knew people would say but we marched and we did… fill in the blank and I remember marching, followed by police. Threatened. I remember my daughter holding a sign on campus during her first protest, spit on, called the n-word, monkeys. I remember how I felt watching a young Black woman at a Trump rally assaulted in a crowd of White people as she walked alone. I remember and I know that for some people marching and protesting is not a euphoric experience. They march and protest under the threat of rubber bullets, fire hoses, dogs, tear gas. Even a peaceful march for many POC turn into a militarized event. How we wish we could have the same peace, space, understanding, to simply be and speak our issues and be heard. We have been screaming and our screams fell on deaf ears. So there is a lot in the soup. It’s race and class and gender and sexuality and economics and religion, education, access, every ism and phobia. It’s all in there. So every day we do our part to pick apart the ingredients. Do I get it right? Not always. But I am a woman with a pen, a notepad and a keyboard and I will keep writing and fighting because I believe conversations are the beginning of change! Stay in the fight!

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  8. I respect the authors opinion but disagree around 54% of white woman voted for Donald, not all. But more importantly the purpose of the march was not meant to be anti-trump. Naturally people spoke of the election as its so fresh and relevant. But I think the most important message was about unity, and raising awareness for issues affecting woman and participating in the political process. Even if it were the case that the white women in attendance at the march were asleep before the election, at the very least being in attendance at the event has probably exposed them to the struggles of communities they aren’t in. If they didn’t know before they should know more now. And I don’t think those woman being in costume or taking selfies makes them inactive. Perhaps they wanted to share the experience on social media, like hundred of thousands did. The point is we don’t know how engaged they were, because this picture captures a second out of the day. The organizers of the march did a great interview with the breakfast club that address this same issue and the intersectionalities of feminism and I would recommend it. In my opinion its more important to hold everyone in attendance accountable for continuing to acknowledge and be allies to the struggle of woman from other backgrounds than it is to highlight anyone’s absence in the past. At some point we were all ignorant to the issues we know now. I think we should only hold people in attendance accountable, for their actions or lack there of, as it relates to acknowledging and being allies for woman of different backgrounds from January 21 on, not alienate a portion of woman who have showed some sympathy through engagement at the event. Nor do I think it’s right to fail to recognize the woman (white included) wow have been speaking up. Hopefully the unity we witnessed from the march will continue
    And because our race can add a different layer of context to our points of view, I am a black woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Gabby for taking the time to read and respond. I am glad that the issues of unity and raising awareness for issues affecting women were addressed and similar to you, I hope it trickles down and continues. As you said, if they didn’t know before now they know. However, I do find it difficult to believe with the abundance of information we are now inundated with, that some issues were not known before, however once you know you know. It is sort of like being in the Matrix, do you take the blue pill and keep dreaming or do you take the red pill and see just how far the rabbit hole goes? This picture summed up how I felt. And from the responses I have received it summed up how many women felt. My job as a writer is to write and I write it all. Some days I wish my purpose was to write about roses but often my assignment is to write about the thorns. An assignment I readily accept. This is how this picture spoke to me. Even you mentioning that you are a Black woman does not mean we will see things the same. You may look at this picture and see something different through your lens of life experiences, challenges, etc. If someone is an ally, I doubt this blog will cease them from being an ally. It may reinforce what they believe and know as well as or be a start of a conversation with someone that is yet to become an ally. Let’s remain in the fight and run on and see what the end will be.

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  9. Why now? Where have I been for the fight against the injustice on people of color? Where have I been for the fight against the injustice on the LGBTQIA community? Where have I been for the fight against the injustice on women’s rights? Where have I been for the fight of the stigma on mental health? Where have I been for the fight to empower and unite? WHERE HAVE I BEEN? I have just recently found my voice, and I’m here now. This will not be my last stand. I will listen, I will educate myself, I will join advocacy groups and I will use my privilege to bring a voice to those that haven’t ever been afforded the human decency that they have the right to. I will not ignore history, I will not dismiss or be silent on the struggles I know nothing about. I will not be silent about the struggles I DO know. I will make mistakes and I will sometimes fail, but I will be persistent and not stop fighting. I will unapologetically use my voice!

    I posted this on Facebook the day before the march. I am doing what I can to make good on my words above, but I won’t explain to you everything I’m doing because I don’t need your validation or praise, just as it is not your responsibility to educate me, it is my responsibility to educate myself and to go and DO, and to shut my mouth and open my ears.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for commenting, Leah. I was not going to offer you any validation or praise. You are doing what you feel is right in your corner of the world. Continue on the journey as you continue to find your voice!

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  10. I went to an event a few weeks ago about the kidnapping of Nigerian girls where Saudatu Mahdi was speaking. Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda were panelists as well, and there were many white women in the audience. I could tell it was frustrating for Mahdi when we asked at the end, what can we do? We should be able to figure it out. If you have to help the person who wants to help you, how much are they really helping? I feel that, and I want to be able to figure out. I want to be in solidarity with every woman. I don’t want to ignore any experience, I want to fight for all of us. But to be honest, many times I don’t know how. I don’t know the concrete steps to take. I hate to ask for directions, but I am asking for directions. I’m blinded much of my life by making money, finding ways to pay for my own and my family’s healthcare, doing my best at work, maintaining relationships, trying to take care of myself. There is a lot of “me,” and I admit that I take a stand 100% of the time when it’s my rights at stake. I need to up that percent for other’s rights, and take responsibility for the ways my privilege hurts others. I want to be more present and compassionate. I have an awareness, and I want to grow that awareness. If you have any advice for me, I appreciate it, and do know that I am sorry I have to ask.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can understand both sides. I can understand your desire to ask, “What can we do?” That is a sensible question for someone that is truly desiring to help, to understand and to offer support. I can also understand Saudatu Mahdi’s frustration because I am sure after everything that was said, what more could she offer? People often think help is in the big gestures but change is often like a drip of water constantly hitting the same spot in a mountain, over time it will eventually begin to erode. Tackling racism is the same way. It is in the everyday actions of people like you and me and many others that make the difference. It is standing up when you hear an offensive joke, it is choosing not to remain silent when you need to speak up, it is reading and educating yourself on current events, history and systems. It is volunteering, offering resources and not just tossing money at a problem but becoming intricately involved in how that money is used and is it being used for the right thing? It is attending SURJ meetings (http://www.showingupforracialjustice.org/ )and learning. It is standing in the proverbial mirror and having an often times difficult with yourself, it is owning irrefutable truths, it is listening without the overwhelming need to justify. For me, you do not need to apologize for asking, I welcome anyone asking that is how we start.

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