Walker’s Legacy Profiles recognize unique women of color in business that embody the legacy of Madam C.J. Walker, the first female self-made millionaire. In this installment, meet Tamika Mallory!
Weeks following the largest march in U.S. history, known as the Women’s March on Washington, women are continuing to carry the torch of resistance. As we look back at history, we celebrate the countless trailblazing women who fought for women’s parity, justice, and equal rights. Women such as Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, Susan B. Anthony, and Gloria Steinem along with countless legendary women icons.
It is these fearless women who blazed a trail for modern day women history makers like Tamika Mallory, an organizer of the Women’s March on Washington. Tamika’s background in grassroots advocacy and social justice made her a perfect candidate to lead hundreds of thousands of women to convene in Washington DC for a historic march. I spoke with history maker Tamika Mallory to get her candidate perspective on women’s rights and the intersections of racism, sexism, and feminism.
Audrey Woodley (AW): What do you say to individuals that downplay the importance of Black Feminism? Arguing that racism outweighs sexism on the scale of issues impacting black women.
Tamika Mallory (TM): There is no 1 fight for black women, when there’s an issue that impacts us we must be present to set the agenda, we are responsible for how we voice our issues to the world, it’s important that our voices are heard in multiple fights, including the fight that involve women’s equality. We are not a monolith, we have to give ourselves permission to fight multiple fights.
AW: There’s a national debate taking place about whether the women’s movement is for all women regardless of ethnicity. Many women of color, particularly black women have spoke-out, stating they don’t feel the women’s movement speaks to issues that impact them. Do you feel the women’s movement addresses the issues of all women?
TM: Our issues do not look the same when compared to other women, even among women of color, Black women face unique issues that other women can’t relate to. We’re still at the beginning stage of having our issues addressed, while we’re at this stage it’s incumbent upon black women to use our voices to make sure our issues are heard.
AW: When it comes to reciprocity, black women are on the frontlines of many social justice protests, including the feminist movement, which begs the question are feminists in turn supporting issues that matter to black women?
TM: It’s difficult for black women to go to work every day and work alongside the same people that they’re fighting against. We’re forced to be a part of the system and fight it at the same time. As we’re in this fight, it’s our responsibility to say this is our agenda, these are the things we care about, and this is how you can help. That’s the best way we can ensure a level of reciprocity.
AW: Not every woman can identify with the intersection of racism, sexism, and feminism. Does this contribute to the disconnect of women of color in the feminist movement?
TM: I have to explain nearly every day the different experience women of color have in this country. There are women who get, women who don’t get it, and women who don’t want to get it. I can say there are many women who can now see how their privilege, complacency, and silence has contributed to the disconnect of women of color in the feminist movement.
It’s clear women of color play a multidimensional role in the fight for women’s equality, facing both racism and sexism. One thing is for certain: the outpouring of women from around the world in attendance at the Women’s March on Washington was an indicator that women across the board are feeling undermined by the Trump presidency. Tameka Mallory is one of many who refuses to sit on the sidelines while so much is at stake for women’s reproductive rights, pay parity, and overall equality.