Women’s March, an American organization that advocates for women’s issues, has been at the centre of a controversy after it was revealed that Tamika Mallory, the group’s national co-chair, had ties to Louis Farrakhan, who has been accused of espousing racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic views. Although Mallory and some other Women’s March leaders have refused to denounce Farrakhan, the group’s Canadian chapter, Women’s March Canada, issued a clear statement condemning him and distancing itself from his comments.
Farrakhan is the leader of the Nation of Islam, which is designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, due to its “deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-LGBT rhetoric,” as well as its promotion of black racial superiority.
At a Nation of Islam conference in February that Mallory attended, Farrakhan said that, “The powerful Jews are my enemy.… White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through.”
The speech and Mallory’s attendance at the conference were first publicized by CNN’s Jake Tapper, who live-tweeted the talk and highlighted the anti-Semitic remarks. Mallory has endorsed Farrakhan on social media in the past and has refused to distance herself from him.
After days of silence, Women’s March issued a statement on March 6, saying that Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic and homophobic statements “are not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles, which were created by women of colour leaders and are grounded in Kingian Nonviolence. Women’s March is holding conversations with queer, trans, Jewish and black members of both our team and larger movement to create space for understanding and healing.”
Many people criticized the organization for not issuing a strong condemnation of Farrakhan’s statements, or an apology from Mallory for her recent association with him.
But on March 12, Women’s March Canada issued a statement condemning comments “from any persons that seek to divide with hatred or discrimination, including Louis Farrakhan.” The group said that Farrakhan “has no association” with Women’s March Canada or its team and that it “cannot and will not allow anti-Semitic, homophobic, transphobic, or misogynistic language to be part of our dialogue.”
Women’s March Canada is part of the international organization, Women’s March Global.
B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn praised the leaders of the Canadian chapter for taking a stand on this issue.
“There must be room for women of all backgrounds, including Jewish and Israeli women, in the feminist movement,” Mostyn said. “Tamika Mallory … and other American Women’s March activists should take note and emulate the good example set by their Canadian counterparts in rejecting bigotry.”
Sara Bingham, co-leader of Women’s March Canada, told The CJN that there was “no debate at all” within the Canadian chapter about whether the statement should be issued.
“Women’s March Canada has received emails and social media messages that shared concerns about the issue. Our organizational team shared those concerns. Together, Women’s March leaders from around the world discussed making a statement. As Women’s March Canada, we made the decision to do so based on our established principles, the work we plan to do and the communities we serve,” Bingham said.
Silence is complicity.
– Sara Bingham
“We couldn’t, and can’t, be quiet and allow anti-Semitic language to be a part of our dialogue.”
The organization has received a lot of positive feedback since it released the statement, she added.
Asked about why it was important for them to take a stand against Farrakhan’s hateful comments, Bingham said that, “Silence is complicity.”