Members of Black Lives Matter Vancouver (BLMV) are awaiting an apology from local Women's March on Washington organizers after the deletion of a discussion thread on the event's Facebook page that addressed the exclusion of Black, queer, and trans voices at Saturday's (January 21) rally.
On January 20, BLMV published a statement on its website explaining that, despite “standing up against racism” being one of the march’s primary goals, the group had not been contacted by the organizing committee of the Vancouver demonstration in any way.
“We are pleased to see that the list of speakers includes Indigenous people and women of colour,” said BLMV, who have been actively protesting systemic racialized and gender-based violence in Vancouver for over a year. “However, the apparent lack of Black women and trans women in both the organization and on the official speakers’ list is problematic.”
They continued: “The Vancouver organizers did not contact, consult, or include Black Lives Matter Vancouver despite the fact that the misogyny and bleak realities of the Trump administration will disproportionately harm Black people and people of colour, particularly those who are trans and queer.
“There are multiple outspoken, well-known Black women activists and trans women activists in Vancouver, any of whom deserve a voice at this event.”
Shortly after the statement went live, a member of the public posted a link to the piece on the Women's March on Washington - Vancouver Facebook page. As a result, many other concerned citizens and local activists began leaving messages in an effort to engage coordinators in a thoughtful discourse surrounding intersectionality and inclusion.
However, the thread, which reached nearly 100 comments at one point, was soon deleted.
Not long after, comments on the event's Facebook page began to be screened.
“Black Lives Matter originated as a response to systemic racism in the U.S.,” BLMV organizer Daniella Barreto told the Straight by phone. “It is so important to centre the voices of those most marginalized because we experience the effects of systemic oppression to a much greater degree.”
In response to one of the coordinator’s replies, which failed to include the acknowledgement of a significant misstep, an apology, or a reconstructive course of action, many protestors expressed disappointment that the Vancouver march appeared to be prioritizing the agenda of white feminists—a dangerous notion given the event's mission to uphold all human rights.
“People of colour, queer people, trans people—all of these people who are so often marginalized—if they raise a concern, it is crucial to listen,” said Barreto. “We’ve been talking about this stuff and organizing around this stuff for a really long time and to be dismissed and erased is just perpetuating the system that we are collectively trying to fight against.”
While the Canadian Women’s March, the Vancouver event’s parent group, has extended an apology to BLMV via Twitter, BLMV has yet to hear from organizers of the local demonstration. The Canadian Women’s March has noted that it will be asking one of its Vancouver-based coordinators to step down.
“Ultimately, this is an opportunity for us to grow and learn together in Vancouver,” added Barreto, who stressed that the championing of civil rights does not end after this weekend. “We’re not trying to shame anybody for going to march or not going to the march or what happened. We’re trying to engage in a dialogue that will help us all work toward meaningful inclusion.”