by Sanaa Humayun
Edmonton’s Women’s march left me with mixed feelings. I’ve tried to write this article a hundred times, I’ve procrastinated and made excuses, I’ve found myself absolutely incapable of coherently explaining this mix of pride and anger I feel in my heart. When I think of what’s happening, my heart pounds faster – my palms become sweaty and I realize, more than anything, that when I think of this march I feel scared. I’m scared of why we need this march in the first place, I am scared of what’s coming, and I’m scared for all the people who will be directly devastated by this. This fear makes me want to stay silent, to curl up and be as invisible as possible. But if this march has taught me anything, it’s that now is the time to speak, and to resist.
When I think about the march, of all the women who took the time to show their solidarity in light of this new, terrifying regime in the United States, I am overwhelmed. When I look at the women who marched in Edmonton I see the best of humanity. Every person who participated, physically or otherwise, showed that people are willing to fight for the things that matter. There seems to be a growing wave of mainstream hatred – Nazis in a new, “Alt-Right” disguise, led by an Orange-Dusted Nazi who has now taken over one of the most powerful positions in the world. It’s hard not to feel terrified by that. But this march reminds me that there is power in unity. This march reminds me that when women support each other, we triumph.
At the same time, I can’t help but want more. When the National Anthem was sung at the march I thought about the Indigenous women there. They’ve been consistently ignored by the leaders of this country, the incredible violence perpetuated against them belittled and disregarded. When we sang the Anthem, the song that praises the colonizers that have oppressed them for thousands of years, at a march that was meant to unite women, we continued to perpetuate that harm against them. We let them down. Too often, uniting women means supporting the plight of the white/cis/able/straight woman, carrying her struggle on the backs of all the queer, disabled women of colour. It’s a scary time to be a person of colour right now, especially a woman. I’m all for unity, and we certainly will need it as we go forward – but it cannot be at the expense of women of colour, as it so often is. Marching for women’s rights must prioritize theirs, or nothing will change.
I want to say that women of colour and Indigenous women are going to be the first to feel the effects of this new regime, but that’s such an understatement – they’ve been fighting this mindset for years, they’ve been affected by this growing white supremacy/misogyny for years. Now that this misogyny has come into mainstream power, I’m glad that everyone else seems to be realizing that it exists and is preparing to resist, but women of colour seem to fight the loudest and reap the least of the benefits. This needs to change. If you marched to oppose the rampant misogyny of our southern counterpart’s new leadership then that’s wonderful, but it’s important to remember that misogyny and white supremacy are inherently linked. Nazis hate you if you’re a woman and they hate you if you’re a person of colour – to be both is to be on top of the “To-Euthanize” list. They will first come for the women of colour, the disabled women, the trans women – those who they deem least human in their eyes, and so it is them we must protect first and foremost.
Edmonton’s march says so much about our city, and I am so proud. It’s easy to sweep this off as something that has nothing to do with us. We are blessed to be Canadians, blessed to be more or less exempt from the horrors that women all over the United States are going to face in the next four years. But the growing hatred of women and people of colour is not just an American problem. It’s growing here too, and with the rapidly gaining popularity of our own mini-Trumps (Here’s looking at you, O’Leary and Leitch), I trust in the fact that Edmonton women are ready to fight for our rights, and the rights of others. That when it comes down to it, we are ready. We will face what comes, and we’ll do it together.
Banner photo courtesy of Lindsey Catherine Photo + Media.