Tamika Mallory, co-president of the Women’s March, who has been associated with the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan for about 30 years, has been asked to, and in some cases, people have demanded that she, “renounce” Farrakhan for his well-known anti-Semitic beliefs. They’ve asked her to abandon and reject a man and an organization that helped to form an affirming and empowering foundation for her life and the lives of countless others. I don’t claim to know much about the Nation. I do know that they assert the power of the Black experience and disclaim the notion of White supremacy as an American doctrine spread through culture, religion, mass media and ignorance.
If Americans were asked to categorically disavow all leaders with heinous viewpoints, the list would be colossal. Would we begin with every U.S. president or political leader who owned slaves? And let’s put that into context because it seems to lose its fervor at times. To own slaves meant to torture, abuse, rape, kill, separate, and starve men, women and children. Would we denounce the “founding fathers” for defining Black people as 3/5ths of a person? Would we, as a country, disavow Truman for referring to the waiters who served the White House as an “army of coons”? Would we abdicate Minority Whip Steve Scalise for speaking at the European-American Unity and Rights Organization conference, a White supremacist group or Representative Steve King over his association with Nazi sympathizers? Would we rebuke our current president who believes that women should be grabbed by the pussy, Mexicans are criminals and rapists and who retweets White nationalists?
Anti-perfectionism is, by nature, the foundation of America and American politics. We are required to discover the good and separate it from an aggregate of dislikes that range from ignorance to evil. Are those who demand that Ms. Mallory renounce Louis Farrakhan expressly requiring that Black people must disavow other Black people for their imperfections, flaws or sins while White America accepts its mistakes, past and present, and moves on?
Tamika has made multiple written and spoken statements clearly stating that she does not agree with Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism. That’s much more than we can say about the Democratic National Committee on a number of issues. This issue is a great example of the overt and disguised racism that continues to permeate our daily lives. Until ALL women have the privilege of individuality, the opportunity to segregate the good from the bad and accept and recover from our mistakes, there will be no “harnessing of the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change” as stated in the mission statement of the Women’s March.