Women’s March protesters definitely missed the mark and created another unnecessary divestment from their cause when they thought it to be perfectly reasonable and ‘revolutionary’ to place a pink pussy hat atop a Harlem statue in honor of freedom fighter, Harriet Tubman, over the weekend.
The statue, which stands at the intersection of Frederick Douglas Boulevard and St. Nicholas Avenue, is a visceral reminder of Tubman’s spirit and boldly exists in one of the first African-American communities predating the 1900’s.
It needs to be said that the plight Tubman faced was not the same as what the pink hat represents.
Vandalizing a statue, or a tweet on your timeline or even a march in the struggle, does not a freedom fighter make.
You see when we label Tubman a freedom fighter, it is a true testament to who she was. A Black woman who used all of her physicality to ensure that the God-given right of liberty and justice for all was a real-life application, not just words written on parchment paper, only applied by selection.
And while the call to stop the sexual assault of women is something that Tubman would have rallied forward in, the same movement repeatedly denies the humanity of women like Tubman, whose bodies were bought, used and then forgot about.
The same movement directly desecrated a statue erected in her honor symbolizing the blatant disconnect that marginalized women have described since the onslaught of the feminist movement. So much so, that to encapsulate their experiences ignored by their counterparts, they broke off and labeled themselves as womanist–a term coined by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Alice Walker.
This type of co-opting can no longer exist in a revolution that wants the attention of women liberators. Refrain from thwarting the gaze away from who it is owed to and consistently do your research to question your positioning.
Black women and other women of color have had the same conversation for decades. It’s time that the women that we’re speaking to take ownership, educate and most of all, listen.