After the historic, woman-led electoral shift of November 6, 2018, right-wing extremists are more terrified of the intersectional feminist coalition than ever before. That’s why they’re working to fan flames of mistrust wherever they can find them within our ranks. There is no better example of this than the intellectually dishonest guilt-by-association talking points currently swirling around Women’s March leaders Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour.
At issue is the fact that both Tamika and Linda have organized with famously anti-Semitic and LGBTQ-phobic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. According to some, this means that Tamika and Linda must be anti-Semitic and LGBTQ-phobic themselves; and nothing short of their publicly denouncing Farrakhan will prove otherwise.
I am a queer Jewish woman and I say that we need to put this mishigas to rest once and for all.
The talking points about Linda and Tamika vis-á-vis Farrakhan actually originated with NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch last summer. In the wake of the terrorist attack on the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, they have now found their way into the mouths of some prominent liberal white women. This is a victory for everyone who would like to see our coalition fracture, get back in the kitchen, and fix them a sandwich.
What is most important is that both Linda and Tamika have spoken out repeatedly, categorically against the anti-Semitism and hatred towards queer and gender non-conforming people that Farrakhan espouses. That’s good enough for me. I might feel differently if the Tree of Life shooter had been radicalized by Farrakhan, but he wasn’t. He was radicalized by the white supremacist right. It makes no sense why anyone is making Black / Muslim women the problem here.
The bottom line is this: I can’t know for certain that Linda and Tamika don’t hold any kind of bias against me as a Jew or a queer person, but I do know that many Black and Muslim women have continued to organize with me despite my own biases against them. They’ve extended me that grace because they can see that I’m doing the work to address those biases.
I witnessed Tamika and Linda’s dedication to that work firsthand when we peacefully protested the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh together in Washington, DC. To the extent that either one of them holds biases against any of my identities or anyone else’s, I trust them to do the work to learn and grow.
These difficult conversations naturally come up within diverse coalitions. Transforming them into the kind of infighting we’ve seen over the last couple of weeks is the oldest trick in the right wing playbook for one simple reason: it works.
The stakes are much too high for us to be fooled by these same tired tactics yet again. That’s why this January 19-21, you’ll find me working, learning, celebrating, and singing at the Seattle Womxn’s March second anniversary weekend. Interested readers can find out more at https://www.seattlewomxnmarchingforward.org.
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