One day after Donald Trump officially becomes the 45th president of the United States, an estimated 200,000 people will descend on Washington D.C. to participate in the Women’s March on Washington. During his campaign, Trump demonized communities of color and threatened protections – like women’s reproductive rights and anti-LGBTQ discrimination laws – that took immense effort to build. With a focus on intersectionality, police brutality, and economic and racial justice, the march is highlighting issues that have existed before the Era of Trump and will extend beyond his presidency.
In just two months, organizers behind the Women’s March put together an event that could be “the largest mass mobilization that any new administration has seen on its first day,” according to national co-chair Linda Sarsour. There’s even 300 sister marches scheduled across the country. But since the beginning, its garnered backlash. Originally titled the Million Woman March, organizers changed the name after accusations of appropriation, according to Fusion. In 1997, African-American women organized the Million Woman March to protest feminists ignoring the issues that plague people of color. Therefore, it became the Women’s March on Washington – which some have said is still not inclusive enough. Critics also denounced that only white women were originally at the forefront of the march, Vox reports.
On the day of the election, Hawaiian grandmother Tricia Shook created a Facebook invite to ask about 40 of her friends to join her in protesting the election. When she woke up the next morning, she learned that Pantsuit Nation got ahold of the invitation, causing it to snowball. 10,000 people RSVP’d. Shook – who didn’t have any experience planning an event of that scale – reached out to Bob Bland, a New York-based fashion designer and entrepreneur. Bland brought on Vanessa Wruble, head of the organization Okayafrica, who explained the importance of adding women of color to the group’s leadership.
The organizers have since tried to correct and make it an inclusive event. Currently, Black, Muslim, and Latina civil rights activists – including Sarsour, Tamika D. Mallory, Colombian-born filmmaker Paola Mendoza, and Gathering for Justice’s Carmen Perez – make up the heart of the organizing efforts. And earlier this month, organizers released a five-page document that summarizes what the march stands for, which specifically acknowledges women of color’s plight. “Women of color are killed in police custody at greater rates than white women, are more likely to be sexually assaulted by police,” the document, titled Guiding Vision and definition of Principles, reads. Another section talks about women of color within the global and domestic economic landscape.
“We recognize that women of color carry the heaviest burden in the global and domestic economic landscape, particularly in the care economy,” the document continues. “We further affirm that all care work – caring for the elderly, caring for the chronically ill, caring for children and supporting independence for people with disabilities – is work, and that the burden of care falls disproportionately on the shoulders of women, particularly women of color.”
Yet, there’s still warranted reservations. In a Colorlines piece, Jamilah Lemieux, vice president of news and programming and Interactive One, explains that she can’t bring herself to attend the event because she doesn’t want to put her “body on the line” and “feign solidarity” with women who haven’t supported women of color prior to the election. In the face of Trump’s misogynistic comments and actions during the election, many expected that he’d have a low turnout with women. However, 53 percent of white women voted for Trump, so she’s leery of what to expect at the march. “Will the Women’s March on Washington be a space filled primarily with participants who believe that Black lives matter?” she wrote. “I’m not sure, especially considering the attitudes of some who have publicly stated that they don’t want to hear calls for attendees to check their White privilege at the proverbial door.”
At the same time, it’s important to note that women of color will play an important role come Saturday. The recently released speakers list reveals that Angela Davis, Donna Hylton, Sarsour, and Roslyn Brock will share their wisdom and their many varied experiences. And so will Latinas. These are the six Latinas who will share the spotlight at the Women’s March on Washington: