We at Black Lives Matter are dedicated, vocal supporters of intersectional feminism.
We have not been contacted in any way by the organizers of the Women’s March in Vancouver. We are pleased to see that the list of speakers includes Indigenous people and women of colour. However, the apparent lack of Black women and trans women in both the organization and on the official speakers’ list is problematic.
The Vancouver Women’s March states its vision clearly: “The rally tomorrow is a peaceful and positive one done to affirm people of marginalized groups everywhere that they are NOT alone…” and that the march is about “standing up against racism.” Black Lives Matter began as a movement against systemic oppression and racism in the United States. The Vancouver organizers did not contact, consult, or include Black Lives Matter Vancouver despite the fact that the misogyny and bleak realities of the Trump administration will disproportionately harm Black people and people of colour, particularly those who are trans and queer.
There are multiple outspoken, well-known Black women activists and trans women activists in Vancouver, any of whom deserve a voice at this event. Black Lives Matter has also existed and protested in the city for well over a year, calling attention to the ways in which women also experience violence from the police and other institutions. We exist in solidarity with BLM chapters in the United States as well as to call attention to the systemic racism Black people and people of colour experience in Canada.
White people send us threats and harass us online, white people tell us that Canada “doesn’t have racism” and that we “don’t need to exist”. We will not be silent and we will not be silenced. We have been vocal about inclusion and anti-oppression and we are concerned that the Women’s March organizers did not contact us about an event that is supposedly aligned with our cause.
Human rights should have no borders. Fighting for women’s rights and social justice requires uplifting, centering, and listening to the voices of the most marginalized. This includes Black women, Indigenous women, and women of colour. This includes trans women, non-binary femmes, sex workers, deaf or disabled women, Muslim women, immigrant women, and undocumented women.
Resistance is ongoing. This march cannot be a one-time event where people in Vancouver congratulate themselves for minimal activism about the United States and return to watching and participating in systemic racism and oppression in Canada. Participating in a march does not absolve people’s complicity in structures that disproportionately harm women of colour, Indigenous women, queer and trans women of colour.
Standing up for women’s rights needs to include all women’s voices and all women’s rights. White people need to use their privilege to centre and uplift the voices and concerns of people of colour. Meaningful inclusion and understanding intersectionality are crucial to allyship and to moving forward for us all.
At this moment in history Canada has an incredible opportunity to create a counter-narrative to what is happening in the United States, challenge regressive policies and laws, and champion social inclusion and human rights for all. This can only happen if we work together and if we listen to those who are most marginalized and oppressed.
Black Lives Matter- Vancouver