The Women’s March on Washington, scheduled for January 21, is set to bring thousands of women across the country together in protest of Donald Trump’s presidency. While Trump’s bid for office pandered to a range of hate, his opinions on abortion, sexual assault, and a general sentiment of inappropriateness toward women are what has activated his female opponents most. But from the start, the feminist response to his candidacy (and subsequent election) has been plagued by the same issue facing the larger feminist movement: racism.
Initially, the Women’s March on Washington was called the Million Woman March. But Black women had already organized a march using the same title in the '90s. Organizers changed the name after being called out for appropriation. Demands that more women of color be included in the organizing were swiftly met with the appointment of Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez, and Linda Sarsour. But I’m not sure exactly how they’re going to fix the lineup of celebrities who place them right back at square one on their road to inclusivity.
Katy Perry, Amy Schumer, Cher, Chelsea Handler, Samantha Bee, Debra Messing, and Julianne Moore are all a part of the “Artists Table” for the march, as The Cut notes. Bob Bland, the march’s cofounder, thought this would be a great way to get more people involved, even though this tactic didn’t work in the presidential election itself. While many are worried that using celebrities to generate buzz might take attention away from the actual issues, I see another potential problem.
With the exception of a few notable exceptions like Danielle Brooks, America Ferrera, Uzo Aduba, and Constance Wu, most of the celebrities getting involved are white. Amy Schumer and Chelsea Handler, in particular, have been called out for their own unchecked privilege and racism. Not only do these names speak volumes about who is and isn’t feeling engaged by the Women’s March, they threaten to undermine organizers' claims of inclusivity.