Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
To achieve its goals, any mass movement needs to recognize the disparate ways in which different people are treated in the same public space.
Beneath the thrill of the broad-minded demonstration, there was a nagging thought that I couldn’t shake, and that some protesters made a point of noting: if a majority of white women had not voted for Trump in November, he would not currently be President—and millions of people would not be protesting. There’s a corollary to this that also tugged at me: if Trump weren’t President—if we had, on Friday, inaugurated President Hillary Clinton—how many of the white women who protested on Saturday would feel as if there weren’t much about America that needed protesting at all?
Seeing such a large number of bodies peacefully commit to joint action is powerful. But it’s important to recognize the disparate ways in which different groups of people have been treated in the same public space. To march together without really seeing all the people there is to take half-steps toward progress. “I stand here today because of the work of my forebears, from Sojourner to Sylvia, from Ella to Audre, from Harriet to Marsha,” the transgender writer and activist Janet Mock said to the crowd on Saturday. “Today, by being here, it is my commitment to getting us free that keeps me marching. Our approach to freedom need not be identical, but it must be intersectional and inclusive.”