There’s been much uproar over Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory’s connection to Louis Farrakhan. The discourse and backlash to the Women’s March in many ways has been similar to that around the Me Too Movement. Tamika Mallory has been used as an excuse to discredit the Women’s March movement, even by women who participated. Louis Farrakhan, without a doubt, holds many abhorrent views. He’s homophobic, anti-Semitic, and not afraid to say it. He’s also been a powerful organizer for the rights of African Americans in this country.
Let’s do an experiment though. Let’s take a look at Milo Yiannopoulos, a known racist or was it…provocateur? Milo Yiannopoulos and his brand had an enormous audience and power. He has no background in working towards any greater good or social justice organizing. He is racist, homophobic, Islamophobic, and Anti-Semitic.
In some ways, the two men have many similarities. Both are members of disenfranchised groups. Louis Farrakhan is African American and Milo Yiannopoulos is gay. Both men excel at attracting attention, even if it’s for inflammatory, hate-filled remarks. Both have been widely and rightfully criticized.
However, many of those who are listening to Louis Farrakhan are listening because he cares about the future of African Americans in this country, and many of the people who appreciate that are not an audience for his other views. In other words, his power is limited. He has been largely denounced and he is not given a stage on major news outlets.
In contrast, Milo Yiannopoulos was for a time widely defended in the name of free speech and by those who just felt they should hear him out. There were many who didn’t agree with what he had to say, but liked his pluck, his style, his brand. Hell, people just thought he was fun. He appeared on HBO to debate with Bill Maher and was even given a book deal with Simon and Schuster. It took a support of pedophilia for him to lose this incredible platform he was given.
This is America today and this is white supremacy. It’s easy to tweet about intersectional feminism on International Women’s Day and it’s easy to support perfect leaders. The real test is how we respond to those with whom we disagree. I am not by any means defending Louis Farrakhan’s views, they’re despicable, it’s easy to condemn them. I’m just saying to look at how our country dragged its feet when it came to the white man and those willing to engage with him.
We are so ready to tear down black women and women’s movements in this country. We construct platforms and movements as though they’re chains, and one imperfect link will bring the whole thing down. I’ve seen so many female leaders come out with statements condemning Tamika Mallory in the name of intersectional feminism, saying no excuses, period, full stop. But when intersectional feminism means cutting out a Black woman at the forefront of the largest demonstration in US history, you have to ask yourself, who are intersectional feminists even fighting for?