by Gina Navarrete and Laura Meier, co-presidents of Charlotte Women’s March
The following article appears as an Op Ed in the Charlotte Observer.
There have been many claims that the women’s march movement is imploding. But we are here to say: not in Charlotte. This Saturday, January 26 at 11 a.m. at Uptown’s First Ward Park, Charlotte will celebrate its third annual Women’s March when the Charlotte Women’s March and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women—Queen City Metropolitan Chapter come together to hold the first Women United March.
We at Charlotte Women’s March (CWM) feel the need to address the controversy swirling around the national Women’s March in D.C., its relevancy to our own movement, and how we differ.
CWM is a local, organic grassroots organization that focuses on local issues affecting women and gender equality. We are not affiliated with the national Women’s March in Washington, D.C., but we were inspired by their sheer energy and unwavering mission to fight for the rights of women. The march in D.C. and sister marches around the world were motivational and energizing, and it was easy to see how we were swept by their infectious energy. Many of us felt the power of sisterhood. Unfortunately, the National Women’s March is not immune to growing pains as they face accusations of anti-Semitism, among other issues, and they and some sister marches are in peril of dying.
We feel their pain, for we have also faced criticism, particularly for being “too white.” Not unlike the national march, we have been criticized for taking or not taking stands on certain issues and we have also experienced self-inflicted wounds. We have tried to educate ourselves, learned from our mistakes and tried to make amends. We have reached out to other organizations, particularly those working with marginalized communities, and continue to form partnerships. And although we all were born out of anger against the current administration, the Charlotte march has evolved into a movement that is beyond politics. We have realized that a movement based on anger is not sustainable nor the most effective way to create change.
We don’t know how other Women’s March groups will fare, but for the good of the work, we hope they find their way back to unity. We are certain of this: division weakens the movement. And hate speech or bigotry/discrimination have no place in any organization whose purpose is to address social justice. Perhaps, what we are witnessing isn’t peril of implosion. Perhaps, dissent among the ranks is part of the evolution of movements, and the flip side of division is growth. Open dialogue helps us heal and we must listen to each other, particularly those who may share different views or experiences from us. Uniting across our differences—racial, religious, ethnicity, gender identification, sexual orientation — increases our understanding and respect for one another. We are proud of the movement here in Charlotte. We are not going away.
If you believe women should have a voice and equal representation, particularly in positions of leadership and power, we invite you to march. And after you march, we invite you to join local organizations that are working to bring about change. Because while marches invigorate and motivate, the fact is that no number of marches will make a bit of difference unless we act. We encourage women, men, and children to march together as we all work locally to build bridges, not walls.
Right here, right now, we are Charlotte, and we are the Women United March. We hope to see everyone on Saturday.
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