Reflections on the Women’s March: reclaiming our time, our space

By Justina Thompson '20 January 23, 2019

I went to a different kind of Women’s March Saturday. A march where we didn’t praise the pink hats because not all pussies are pink. A march where we made space for women of color and their lived experiences to be shared, their voices to be heard.

This letter is to the women of color on campus, the ones who couldn’t make it to the march, the ones who walk into every space on campus feeling othered because we’re at a prominently white, prominently male institute and everyone would be damned if they let us forget it. The institution has failed us, and it will continue to fail us, because it was not designed for us. And by “the institution” I do not just mean this school, I mean every built structure that exists in this country. There’s no more time or energy to waste waiting for someone else to come along to fix things, for those who consider themselves allies to educate their friends and start the revolution for us.

As women of color we have to demand respect, make space for ourselves, and most importantly, love and support each other. In the words of Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” At the march, women of color told me that when I’m told to be quiet, I need to speak louder. Women of color told me that being me—unapologetically—is a revolutionary act on its own, because every day I wake up in a world that’s told me my life is expendable, a struggle, and a miracle.

We are continuing to do ourselves a disservice by trusting and waiting for something to change around us. We are the change; we are the storm; we are the revolution. It’s time to stop dimming our light to keep others around us from being uncomfortable. It’s time to make space for our sisters of color so we can be ourselves without having walls of defense ten feet high. It’s time to organize our communities so we understand the needs of those around us and work to provide, because no one else will do it for us.

And to those who consider themselves allies, supporters of the movement, friends, and friends of friends—first and foremost understand that “ally” is not a status that you can earn. Allyship is a process that requires you to act in the moment and stand for equity and justice again and again. Loosely quoting from Mia McKenzie’s Black Girl Dangerous, “In true allyship, there is no break because it is a characteristic of your privilege if you get to walk away while oppressed and marginalized women have to live through the same shit, day after day.” Instead of telling the story of a friend you know, make room for that woman to be at the table so that her own voice is heard. Step back in your daily lives to make room for the women that are often invisible, for the voices that no one is bothering to listen to, and know that your work is never done.