Super long article on the Woman's March and some of their problems, particularily in their leadership, from anti-Semitism, to conflicts between the national group and the local organizers, to dubious financial arrangements and other things.
Is the Women’s March Melting Down?
It was there that, as the women were opening up about their backgrounds and personal investments in creating a resistance movement to Trump, Perez and Mallory allegedly first asserted that Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people—and even, according to a close secondhand source, claimed that Jews were proven to have been leaders of the American slave trade. These are canards popularized by The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, a book published by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam—“the bible of the new anti-Semitism,” according to Henry Louis Gates Jr., who noted in 1992: “Among significant sectors of the black community, this brief has become a credo of a new philosophy of black self-affirmation.”
As its fame grew, so did the questions about the Women’s March’s origin story—including, at first privately within the inner circles of the organizations, questions pertaining to the possible anti-Jewish statement made at that very first meeting. And that wasn’t the only incident from the initial encounter that would have far-reaching consequences. Within a few months of the original marches, key figures who came from outside or stood apart from the inner circle of the Justice League, an initiative of The Gathering for Justice, left the organization. And many of those involved began questioning why it was that, among the many women of various backgrounds interested in being involved in the March’s earliest days, power had consolidated in the hands of leadership who all had previous ties to one another; who were all roughly the same age; who would praise a man who has argued that it’s women’s responsibility to dress modestly so as to avoid tempting men; and, at least in one case, who defended Bill Cosby as the victim of a conspiracy.
The Women’s March leaders have often dismissed their critics as right wing or driven by racism, but over the past two months their fiercest challengers have come from within their own shop—with women of color, and their own local organizers, often leading the pack. As of this article’s publication, numerous state chapters have broken off from the national organization—notably Houston, Washington, D.C., Alabama, Rhode Island, Florida, Portland, Illinois, Barcelona, Canada, and Women’s March GLOBAL.*
The development of the origins of the Women’s March and its transformation into a vehicle that promoted a small coterie of women—three of whom bizarrely professed their admiration for the openly anti-Semitic, homophobic, and misogynistic Nation of Islam preacher Louis Farrakhan—was a deliberate act, one that had nothing to do with the general spirit out of which the March was born.
At the end of January, according to multiple sources, there was an official debriefing at Mallory’s apartment. In attendance were Mallory, Evvie Harmon, Breanne Butler, Vanessa Wruble, Cassady Fendlay, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour. They should have been basking in the afterglow of their massive success, but—according to Harmon—the air was thick with conflict. “We sat in that room for hours,” Harmon told Tablet recently. “Tamika told us that the problem was that there were five white women in the room and only three women of color, and that she didn’t trust white women. Especially white women from the South. At that point, I kind of tuned out because I was so used to hearing this type of talk from Tamika. But then I noticed the energy in the room changed. I suddenly realized that Tamika and Carmen were facing Vanessa, who was sitting on a couch, and berating her—but it wasn’t about her being white. It was about her being Jewish. ‘Your people this, your people that.’ I was raised in the South and the language that was used is language that I’m very used to hearing in rural South Carolina. Just instead of against black people, against Jewish people. They even said to her ‘your people hold all the wealth.’ You could hear a pin drop. It was awful.”
On March 11, 2018, the Women’s March had their biweekly phone call with national organizers. The public controversy had started to explode over Mallory’s attendance at the Saviours’ Day event, during which, in the course of a three-hour speech, Farrakhan blamed Jews for “degenerate behavior in Hollywood, turning men into women and women into men.” Angie Beem, president of the Washington state chapter, remembered that phone call.
“Many of us were upset,” Beem told Tablet. “She is the face of a women’s march, and our mission and values are equality and inclusion. To openly praise someone like this went against everything we were supposed to stand by.” Beem described a sense of awkwardness as Mallory went on to defend Farrakhan to over 40 women on the call. And she wasn’t alone, Beem said; Perez and Bland jumped in to defend him as well. “They said to us: ‘You know, he has done some great things for people of color.’ They didn’t denounce anything he said, they only did that recently. Some state people supported them and some who were very brave stood up to them. One woman said something like, ‘Just because somebody does one good thing doesn’t mean they are excused for everything else.’ They said, ‘We hear you.’ But then they refused to do anything about it.”
“There are no Jewish women on the board. They refused to put any on. Most of the Jewish people resigned and left. They refused to even put anti-Semitism in the unity principles.”
In any case, Morganfield and others began pointing to what they said were deeper problems. “There is no LGBTQIA representation on their Board of Directors—this is not an intersectional organization—it’s smoke and mirrors,” said Morganfield. “Their Disability Caucus has one person in it. One. Their Veterans Caucus HAD one person in it. They no longer have a Veterans Caucus.”
It would appear that the Women’s March has been a banner success for CrowdRise—a high profile and much lauded progressive cause raising millions on its platform. And yet, it’s not at all clear that the Women’s March is even eligible to raise money on CrowdRise. “To qualify for a Charity Account on CrowdRise, nonprofits must be listed in the GuideStar database and recognized as a U.S.-based 501(c)3 nonprofit,” the site states and details in its terms of service. But the Women’s March is not a 501(c)3 nonprofit, it’s a different kind of organization, a 501(c)4, and it was not listed on the Guidestar database as the requirement clearly states. Reached for comment about this apparent discrepancy, CrowdRise replied with a one line answer: “We did look into it. Women’s March Inc. is a 501(c)(4). Thanks!”