Two Women’s Marches Illustrate The Two Pittsburghs

(This post grew out of a Facebook post I wrote on Sunday morning.)

I think having two marches/rallies centering women in Pittsburgh was a positive thing because it shined a light on the reality that we live in two Pittsburghs, divided by race.

There’s an honesty there that is so rarely evident or acknowledged elsewhere. An event centering the experiences of black women did not take away from the white feminist march. The white feminist march had a huge turnout and made an impact. That’s much like day-to-day life in this region – two realities that don’t intersect one another.

I’m hearing from a small group of folks that tend to be my friends and comrades who are genuinely uncomfortable with this manifestation of the two Pittsburghs. Their concerns about a lack of unity, a lack of understanding, a lack of teamwork to push back against Trump and the Trumpians are certainly valid. But I’m not concerned.

I know in my heart that we have to resist the urge to hide the truth for the sake of the common good. I know that most white folks I personally know do not own their racism, their white privilege or their contribution to the two Pittsburgh divide. We are a classic dysfunctional family that is working feverishly to protect the secret and pretend that someone’s addiction/alcoholism/untreated illness/traumatic experience did not impact the rest of the family and distort our own realities. We deny, deflect and diminish the reality of racism in our lives and – perhaps most critically – how we as white folks maintain the two Pittsburghs.

The legacy of two Pittsburgh is filled with trauma, pain and hurt. I posit that the ongoing disregard of the dysfunction led to Trump as much as any other causal factor. So telling the survivors in that second Pittsburgh to welcome and uplift potential allies in order to defeat Trump without acknowledging and doing some work on the trauma is simply ineffective. It is also wrong. It denies our complicity and our gain from living in the first Pittsburgh. It suggests that white feminist organizers and women of color organizers are on a level playing field, waiting for the coin toss while they agree on terms. That’s not remotely true.

I get that we don’t want to deal with the reality of racism in Pittsburgh. But I think we are in for another significant letdown if we think we can jump to the mid-term elections without doing so.

I’m going to blog a bit this week about what you can do now. I’ve asked an array of people to share suggestions, advice, links, etc. So stay tuned for that.

But if you knew about a march/rally centering black women and women of color, but chose to march elsewhere – asking how to connect with black women and women of color after the fact is an absolute symptom of white feminism. You should still ask, but be prepared to realize that you were offered an answer in the form of an opportunity approximately 1,000 other people chose to accept (h/t to Joy KMT for that sentiment)

An Intersectional Feminist March coexisting in space with a Traditional White Feminist March illustrates how two Pittsburghs have been coexisting forever, since Pittsburgh was first colonized.

You can take a look at my photos from the Intersectional Feminist March if you are interested.


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