The day after the 2016 presedential elections, I was like many people in the United States—shocked. That feeling didn’t last long, as I quickly became outraged. How could this have happened? How could we have allowed hatred, racial discrimination, sexism, divisiveness to win? after that I realized that what I have been fighting against as an organizer for the long-ago 15 years had bubble to the outside, and at the present we were face to face with the repulsive truth that have forever existed in our state. All of a sudden I felt more emboldened and dedicated to activism effort and to the community I organize with more than ever. only two days after the ballot vote, I saw an events page on Facebook about a women’s march, and it annoyed my interest. I read the narrative and I commented at random on the page, “This is a great effort, I wish that you can center Muslim women and their communities.” The comment went viral, and the next day I was contacted by March organizer and two women of color who were by now concerned, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez—two dear friends of mine with whom I have worked closely on illegal justice reform and police responsibility.
I agreed to participate in what became known as the Women’s March on Washington as one of four national co-chairs with conditions—that we center the most marginalized voices that were the targets of the political expression of this incoming government. Organizers were already on the same page. We agreed that this is a women-led march purposeful on the idea that women’s rights are human rights—but we wanted to move forwards that further: that women are intersectional human beings who live multi-issued lives. When we are confined, when we are respected, when we are able to thrive and given the same opportunities as our male counterparts, when we are given space to lead and rise—our nation will rise.
it’s because I love my society. I joined as a general co-chair of the Women’s March on Washington to center my Muslim community, who has suffered in silence in a post-9/11 America. Plagued by policies that have exposed us of our civil liberties in the name of public safety and swept up and detained our fathers, husbands, brothers, and sisters without due process, stripped us of family members because of an unjust immigration system. They register our men. They put us in database: fear watch lists, alleged terror watch lists, no-fly lists. They keep on to wholesale discover on our community, leaving no place of sanctuary. A mainstream of Americans stood by carelessly, either because they didn’t know or because it wasn’t impacting them directly or because they supposed the hype, that my community was suspect, we were not to be reliable. We were not “one of them.”
I joined the Women’s March on Washington because that will be no more. We will center those who have been the most marginalized and under attack. We will send many e-mail, and one will be “Hands off our Muslim sisters and brothers. They are of us, have forever been of us, and we will look after and get up for them. No more stillness. We are aware now.” They can’t and will not ignore us.
We will stand proud in support of women’s reproductive rights, colonist rights, climate justice, and in support of full and equal rights for African Americans, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA communities. We will send a strong and influential message that the way we decide to fight unfairness is not with unfairness—it is together, in unity, standing side by side. We know that the only way to win is to bring all the social justice movements jointly. If we live multi-issued lives, how can we be organizing on important issues independently? Intersectional organize is the outline moving forward. We will win together.
The Women’s March on Washington is balanced to be the largest mass call-up that any new government has ever seen on its first day. If there was ever a time to stand collectively, to stand proud and noisy, it’s under a president who won an election on a message of hatred and separation. The march is not the beginning, nor is it the end. It builds on decades of work by brilliant and dedicated advocates and organizers. The march is only a persistence of that work and a stepping stone into an era of confrontation to an government that has sent a loud and clear message through its activities and its outline that it does not care about our issues or our communities. We hope to inspire hundreds of thousands of attendees and those who will watch at home to arrange on a local level in their neighborhoods, towns, and cities. We hope the spirit of the march is embedded in a sense of necessity and will boom and move people towards action.
It took a second like this to wake people up—but they are broad awake now, and they are prepared. Generations from now, little girls and boys will hold their chests out with pride reading about the leadership of women who integrated a divided state—so come, be a part of history. Let’s continue to build on the legacy of those before us. Walk with me. March with me.
—– Vishal Shukla (based on a email interview with US based journalist/activist)