McCormack Speaks

Equality is a Zero Sum Game


By Edward Henry
An International Relations student at the McCormack Graduate School

human rights

When I was asked to write a piece on my experiences attending the Women’s March, I wanted to write about the festive atmosphere that permeated the march. I wanted to write about arriving downtown early to feel the excitement of the marchers already streaming towards the Common. When I sat down to write, I intended to report the positivity in addition to addressing the critiques of the march. But, the videos and images from the Inauguration Day protests in DC, the police presence in the Boston companion march that night, and the police presence at the Boston Protest against the Muslim Ban led to a change in direction.

The Women’s March was successful in pulling millions worldwide into the streets to stand in support of women’s equality in addition to a host of equality issues. But reporting only that would be repeating the mistakes of previous equality movements. Instead I ask-where were the police in riot gear? Where were the arrests? Where was the singular line of police watching from behind shields? Where were the police on the balcony of the Massachusetts State House? The balcony was filled with police the night before and previously during the Refugees are Welcome Rally in 2016.

The Women’s March was a well orchestrated citizen’s action. I don’t seek to deny the positive action of that day. There was plenty. However, we should be cautious patting ourselves on our backs. Instead we should ask – why such a turnout now? Why not any previous marches or rallies? Why didn’t the police treat this march like any previous march? What was different this time? For many, the answer has been known for far too long. If you do not know, seek out the answer to those questions. I direct you to these two articles for other critiques, with links of their own. One on the lack of arrests and one on the pussy hats.

American equality movements have a history of tremendous success-often at the expense of those most vulnerable, the most maligned. I point to the suffragette movement and the recent LGBTQ+ equality fights, specifically the gay marriage fight (gay and marriage chosen purposefully). Both movements achieved their stated goals – votes for women and marriage equality – at the cost of abandoning the most vulnerable of their respective populations. The suffragettes abandoned women of color (see the second to last panel) and marriage equality dominated mainstream LGBTQ+ movements, at the exclusion of the transgender community.

Yes, the Women’s March was a success for many. Yes, this point of our history will be a point of change. But, let us change our course. Let this be the point in our history where every single one of us fights for true equality … equality for all. And let no person be left behind again.

Never again, never again.

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