I wish the organizers of the Salem Womxn's March that will be held on January 21 would stop criticizing the 2017 Salem Women's March for supposedly not being inclusive enough.
This is flat-out wrong.
The speakers at the 2017 event included an African-American woman, her daughter (who sang), and a lesbian woman. Sign language interpreters were on stage for the hearing-impaired. Special seating up front was reserved for those in wheelchairs, or anyone needing those seats.
I filmed the entire march of 4,200 people who filled the streets of downtown Salem. The video is part of this web page I made to memorialize the event:
So I know that a marvelously diverse cross-section of our city attended the event. Everybody was invited. No one was excluded. And since my wife, Laurel, was a lead organizer of the 2017 Women's March, I know that she wasn't aware of any complaints about how inclusive the march was.
Yet in a case of women criticizing women, this is part of the description of the 2018 Womxn's March on the event's Facebook page:
There was controversy from last year's march in that there was a lack of inclusivity. Many people, from Salem’s own underrepresented communities expressed their disappointment that the 2017 Salem Women’s March did not feel inclusive and that care was not given to their issues. This was discussed in several forums before and after the actual day.
Well, I don't understand how someone can feel excluded from an event before it has happened.
What I do know, because my wife just reminded me of this after I told her what I was writing about tonight, is that the organizers of the 2017 Women's March had never put on an event of this magnitude, and they worked extremely hard to make the march a big success -- which, for sure, it was.
If anyone had contacted them before the day of the march with concerns about how the march was being planned, they would have done their best to address those concerns. So for the 2018 March organizers to criticize these women (and some men) for a "controversy" they weren't made aware of strikes me as decidedly unfair.
It would have been better if the organizers of the 2018 Womxn's March had simply said something like, "This year's march is going to be better than ever!"
That would have been positive, and honored the success of the 2017 march. Instead, they're making a big deal out of the 2017 Women's March supposedly not being inclusive, even though they don't directly say how it wasn't inclusive. The only clue I could find to this is in a description of next Sunday's march in the issue of Salem Weekly that just hit the streets.
Featuring diverse speakers and encouraging blind and disabled activists to participate... "Wheelchairs, scooters, and ponchos will be provided for the disabled," says Kendall, and "signs and materials available in many languages."
OK, that's great. People who need wheelchairs don't have to bring their own. And even though one would think that disabled people who live in Oregon have their own rain gear, it doesn't hurt to have ponchos on hand.
These just strike me as relatively small improvements to the 2017 Women's March.
I see no reason to call the 2017 March uninclusive just because the hard working organizers of that event weren't able to think of some of the things that, in hindsight, could have made the event even better.