Read Full Transcript EXPAND
She’s one of the leaders of the women’s march. Now, the organization is struggling with division and accusations of anti-Semitism. This week on Firing Line
SOT: We can do it if women rise up.
(VO) Tamika Mallory became an early leader of those massive, and historic, protests
Now, she’s refusing to denounce the nation of islam leader known for hate speech against jews and others
SOT: “I didn’t call him the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric, I called him the greatest of all time because of what he’s done in black communities.”
As tensions are rising and marches are cancelled, there are calls for her to resign. On the third anniversary of the Women’s march,
What will Tamika Mallory say now?
Firing Line with Margaret Hoover is made possible by.
The Robertson Foundation. Marlene Ricketts the Acehnese Family Foundation. DanielS. Lowe the David Tepper Charitable Foundation Inc. Spencer behavior corporate funding is provided by. Stephens.
HOOVER: Tamika Mallory welcome to firing line.
MALLORY: Good to be here. Thank you so much Margaret.
HOOVER: I wanted to have you here because you are now you’re at this pivotal moment. You are one of the organizers of what was debatably, the largest march on Washington in American history one of the largest movements in our country. And it was a women’s march.
MALLORY: Yes it was
HOOVER: It was in 2017 the day after President Trump was inaugurated. And you went on to be named by Time One Hundred as one of the most influential people of 2017. Now two years passed it – what is your most optimistic vision for the women’s march?
MALLORY: You know there is so much work to be done and I think that you know you have these high moments. So the beginning was a really high moment even though it was painful to bring all these people together, folks who don’t know each other. People who are you know coming from so many different backgrounds.
HOOVER: What was painful about it?
MALLORY: Just you don’t know who you’re working with. Right?
with the Women’s March you had people coming together who didn’t even know anything about movement organizing.
HOOVER: Well, and it happened so quickly
MALLORY: And it was so quick. Just eight weeks of, you know, really intense planning and something that big again with people who were not necessarily comfortable but they’re standing here we all have a common goal and we’ve got to figure out a way to work together. So that’s the other part of it is that you know for it, from our perspective we didn’t get an opportunity to learn in private. It’s sort of like a celebrity kid you know growing up as a child of you know some great person and everything you do is just on the main screen.
HOOVER: You felt like you were under a microscope.
MALLORY: Oh we certainly have been since day one. You know our growing pains have been public.
HOOVER: Well I think I mean what you’re getting at sort of delicately is that there has been
some controversy surrounding the women’s march in recent days. We’ll get to that.
MALLORY: Not just recent days, since the very beginning you know we faced controversy.
HOOVER: I’ll get to that but I want to just sort of looking back.
what do you think it was that galvanized so many women across the country from so many different backgrounds and so many different places geographically to to move and to mobilize in such a short period of time?
MALLORY: You know I think people were sleeping in a way. I think people really did not understand what America was doing and how bad people were suffering in this country. And I think what happened was that there was this moment when like the curtains opened
and everyone said oh my god there’s racism, there’s sexism, there’s Islamophobia, there’s all these different issues. And then people like oh my god like what have I been doing I haven’t necessarily been paying attention. And then you have people, people of color who were involved in a women’s
march planning that were like. I mean we’ve been trying to say that this is a problem.
HOOVER: So as you look back now, since that first march, what can you say the women’s march has achieved?
MALLORY: You know I think the biggest thing
and the thing that I’m most proud of is this idea that we were able to provide entry points for folks to get involved and to find their own voice.
HOOVER: How about the policy goals of the Women’s March. What policy achievements do you feel that you’ve achieved?
MALLORY: So we’re in the process of releasing a policy agenda. And what I can tell you is that these goals are around some of the most marginalized and oppressed
communities in our society. Issues that really are concerning to people who have really been off the radar. We’re trying to focus our attention there.
HOOVER: A stated goal is paid family leave.
MALLORY: Paid family leave is extremely important to us. When you think about families and families be – having a sustainable income in this country that’s sort of like the foundation of everything.
MALLORY: Paid family leave is a common goal that while I may come from a total different background I know this is something that we have to work on together.
HOOVER: A lot of people agree with that, including Ivanka Trump has been a huge proponent of paid family leave. Would the women’s march consider working with her to achieve that?
MALLORY: Well I think the women’s march is open to work with anyone and you know we don’t check people’s background and say like who are you, and what’s your political, what’s–
HOOVER: But given that she’s in the White House and she wants to achieve this policy goal would you work with her to push it through push legislation together?
MALLORY: I think the issue is that we would put forth how we want to see it happen. And then she would decide whether or not she’s going to work with us. She wouldn’t be the one leading the work, we would be leading the work…
HOOVER: You mean come to the table and work mutually?
MALLORY: But they have to come to the table working mutually understanding that the center of the conversation are the people on the ground. And that doesn’t always–
HOOVER: As opposed to what?
MALLORY: Certain figures, they’re not necessarily there for the real deep work that has to be done. They really want to do surface work that gets them a picture a photo op, and that’s not what the women’s march is about.
HOOVER: One of the things I noticed because I was there in Washington and I was so struck by the feeling of goodwill, right? There was a real shared feeling of mutuality of respect and of like
calm and goodwill and dignity between lots of different people. And it feels Like some of that feeling of goodwill has eroded. There have been stories of infighting. There have been there’s evidence that some of the marches have dissolved some of the marches have splintered off. There have been some competitive groups organizing other marches and this next weekend there will be marches by different women’s march groups here in New York. The DNC has decided not to be part of the Women’s March
this year, Emily’s List. Can you reflect on like what’s going on and what’s happened?
MALLORY: I don’t think it’s any different from most movements. I mean if you are a student of history you’ll know that every single movement has had the same type of difficulties because again people are very caught up in the highlight of the beginning. The moment when we all came together and we certainly felt an incredible feeling of pride that day
I know I saw people really just crying and just being and smiling and just being happy to be there but then the real work begins. And when the real work starts that’s where you begin to have tension because everyone is not going to be uniform. People are not going to agree. People are not necessarily going to feel that they that this space is exactly what they want it to be. Every movement that I know of there has been tension among groups and organizers
and there have been people who have had to take the foundation of it and then move into a space that allows them to organize in the way in which they feel is most appropriate for the work.
HOOVER: How is that? Do you have a direct experience with that?
you’re saying everybody has to come to the table and then there’s these these challenges. Do you think that reflects your personal experience as well?
MALLORY: Yeah, I mean Well certainly even before so I– we were not necessarily when I say we I’m speaking of the women of color particularly who were in the leadership role within the organization. We were never sort of caught up in the euphoria of the first moment-
MALLORY: because we’ve been doing this work for 20 years. So for us this was another opportunity to bring forth the issues that we really care about. It was another opportunity and a really large platform to talk about issues that matter to our communities. So it’s very different for some folks who just sort of showed up.
HOOVER: Who are new to a movement
MALLORY: Yeah, yeah So this whole idea of intersectionality is extremely challenging.
HOOVER:I’m so glad you just went there
because I wanted to get there. Can you explain maybe just for the audience can you define intersectionality?
MALLORY: This idea of intersectionality is having different people come together from various backgrounds but with common goals and then being able to center in that those people who really suffer the most from that particular issue. So for instance we know gun violence is a major concern for every single community. But we also know that in black and brown communities gun violence is a daily daily occurrence. And so while we may be concerned about school shootings and we all need to focus on school shootings, school shootings may not be the thing that is happening as much as it is what’s happening in Chicago every day on our street.
HOOVER: Can I just extrapolate from what I think I hear you saying is that. The white community has mobilized around gun violence because of well shooting
MALLORY: very much so
HOOVER: When the African-American community has been dealing with gun violence
MALLORY: every day
HOOVER: for a decades
MALLORY: every day.
HOOVER: And it it.
And that’s one of the challenges of intersectionality because then you bring together a diverse group of people who all care about an issue but have come to it for different reasons.
MALLORY: And then what happens when you talk about the tension is that you start to hear –in comes Tamika Mallory talking about it from a race perspective and you have white women who say why do we need to talk about race. We should all just agree that gun violence is an issue and it’s some because there are many white women who get it. They understand the disparity
and they understand that if we do not focus on gun violence in communities of color we don’t have a specific focus on that. What will happen is we’ll figure out a way to address school shootings and then in our communities people will continue to die. People will continue to suffer with that particular issue.
HOOVER: So can I take that example and extend it to the Women’s March.
HOOVER: Because intersectionality is something that the women’s march has talked about and supports. But it is a challenge in every movement as you say, and one of the women’s marches earlier this year, apparently dissolved because organizers cited concerns that the participants would be overwhelmingly white. This was one in northern California. I don’t know if you’re aware of this. I mean does the Women’s March have to look a certain way?
MALLORY: No I don’t think it has to look a certain way. No no no — Let me go back and say yes, it has to be diverse. Yes it does. It does need to be diverse. I think that every single woman needs to be represented but I– that doesn’t mean that I don’t feel a particular group of women of any particular background can’t get together and say we want to march or we want to work on an issue.
HOOVER: So one of the things about this program that I love is that it is a legacy program that aired for 33 years that William F. Buckley Junior hosted and he had a leading feminist on 25 years ago her name was Betty Friedan a renowned feminist who many are familiar with. And she spoke about the expansion of the women’s movement to include new voices and the challenges that that confronted. And I’d like us to take a look.
FRIEDAN: You couldn’t have a movement taking in so many women and have only one voice. The diversity of voices, my voice is still there and the major thrust of the women’s movement for equality as I helped organize it is still the basis of it. There are a lot of diverse new voices and they argue and they are opposed to it as opposed to some of it and I think it’s some of it’s silly. And I think some of it’s diversionary.
HOOVER: This is I think exactly what you’re talking about
the challenges of balancing different voices and perspectives and backgrounds in a cohesive movement.
MALLORY: Absolutely. It’s it’s a challenge. I mean. And we’re not the jury is still out on whether we will ever be able to really accomplish it because one of the things that we know is that feminism is completely comfortable discarding women of color, very comfortable with that. This is not it’s almost as if it’s expected.
HOOVER: Is it because the feminist movement began in this country. In sort of the mainstream,
MALLORY: No I think–
HOOVER: through white leadership?
MALLORY: No I think it is because this country has yet to address and to really own the oppression of people of color. And when we bring it up and when we talk about the complexities of our community, people push back and say you know not now. Let’s wait and talk about that later. Or you’re being divisive or this hurts my feelings or it’s not fair. I didn’t have slaves. I was not the one who did– you know that’s the type of conversation that we get into.
HOOVER: Do you think the women’s movement right now is insufficiently sensitive to women of color.
MALLORY: yeah absolutely, I would say that. I mean even what has happened to me. I mean I’ve felt it in in this movement
MALLORY: so I’ll give you an example Before we had this– the March for Our Lives moment which is an incredible moment in history where young people particularly led the charge around… around gun violence the Women’s March had a march from the NRA to the DOJ and we specifically focused on Philando Castille, Philando Castille being a young man who was killed in a car by a police officer even though he said I have a gun.
And the officer heard him and still shot him
A legal gun owner with a license. You know and he was killed. Painful painful, the women’s march was out there leading in terms of that conversation. But the backlash that we received, within the women’s movement, the e-mails from people why are you all marching around gun violence. This is supposed to be about women’s issues. What does gun violence have to do with this. We had people highly upset that we would even participate in something like this. And then all of a sudden school shootings happen. People are hurting as they should have been and then it’s like there’s this you know epiphany. Wow. You know when everyone all of a sudden is like oh school– gun violence is a thing and we’re going to get behind this movement. But when a woman of color came forward and said this is an issue and it’s an issue for my community we didn’t get that same support.
HOOVER: Philando Castille was a human tragedy. It is a stain on the country the way that case specifically was handled and I applaud you for taking it up. I can also understand the argument you’re making which is that when a woman of color, within the context of the Women’s March raises an issue, that is of importance to all women, it doesn’t get the attention or the focus or the energy
HOOVER:That that issue gets when the same issue affects white people.
Is that what you’re saying?
MALLORY: That’s exactly right. And thank you for articulating it for me so well.
HOOVER: Well I wanted to make sure I understood it. Let me ask you about another charge when you’re dealing with a diverse movement and different groups of people because there have been some claims that the Women’s March has been insufficiently inclusive of Jewish Women.
You were quoted in The New York Times, tell me if the quote is right. “We learned a lot about how while white Jews as white people uphold white supremacy all Jews are targeted by it.”
MALLORY: So first of all that was an organizational statement.
HOOVER: OK. So that statement that’s not your statement thats by–
MALLORY: It was an organizational statement that was written by a number of people. Jewish folks black women white women, just– You know If I was saying that out of my mouth I would have said all white skin individuals including Jewish women. Anyone who has white skin in America is able to benefit from white privilege and white privilege is in fact a part of white supremacy
HOOVER: When we– you talk about Jews upholding white supremacy. I mean there are white supremacists in this country who target Jews.
MALLORY: Absolutely right.
HOOVER: I mean we just had the tree of life synagogue shooting where a white supremacist went into a synagogue and killed 11 Jews citing the Jewish communities interest in supporting refugees. So when you accuse Jews of upholding white supremacy it feels and seems inappropriate in the context of this mass white supremacist slaughter in a synagogue.
MALLORY: Well if you want to put it in the context of that particular issue or that incident which is a horrific incident in American history then that’s fine. But if you want to talk about the overall context of how we exist in America then I think it makes perfect sense.
HOOVER: let’s do both.
MALLORY: I mean it doesn’t change the bottom line is that people who have white skin including white Jews benefit from white privilege. Is anyone– I mean even even Jewish
people say that.
HOOVER: I understand the argument that white people are benefiting from a system of privilege that is structural that has existed for centuries. I also understand white supremacy to be an evil ideology. That is filled with hate and insists on not allowing anyone else into the franchise. So help me understand the conflation of white privilege and white supremacy.
MALLORY: So it does not mean to say that you are a white supremacist and that you are akin to the KKK but if you have white privilege in this country and particularly if you are not if you don’t address it own it focus on it and figure out how to be in relationship to other people who know how dangerous it is then you again are participating in upholding the system and unwilling to help us tear it down.
There were and have been accusations anti-Semitism
that have been reported and reported that you have said to co leaders of the women’s movement the beginning who are Jewish you know your people have all the wealth and– is there any credence to any of those accusations?
MALLORY: So the accusations against me are 100 percent false. It didn’t happen. If I did not believe that anti-Semitism was a real issue if, I did not believe that Jewish women should be a part of it, I wouldn’t say it. I stand very very clear in my principles and who I
- So the reason why you have seen me say things about the Jewish community the reason why you hear me talking about anti-Semitism is because I truly believe that those issues are issues that we need to address.
HOOVER: Do you think that you have evolved your thinking especially with respect to the discrimination against Jewish people?
MALLORY: Absolutely certainly. when we first heard in Charlottesville the Jews will not replace us. I did not know. I didn’t pick up on it. I thought they were saying you will not replace us. But when someone said to me hey they’re saying the Jews will not replace us, I was horrified and I think at that in that moment what I realized is that we need to make sure that we understand all of the communities that are hurt and feeling in this moment this incredible sense of despair. I think that’s why there are definite legitimate concerns about Jewish women feeling included. So I don’t want to take away from that. But there’s also a sense of divisiveness
HOOVER: I want to change the subject just a little bit. I noticed on as I was doing my research on you and I saw Facebook live about a trip that you took to Israel.
MALLORY: Mhm, Sure did.
HOOVER: And it was clearly a really high impact visit for you. I want to share a clip from that Facebook live.
MALLORY IN CLIP: In terms of us screaming free Palestine yelling Free Palestine we do a network for we also are responsible. For really pushing our elected officials to see that any support of a country that is abusing the native people from that land is not support that we as, As as a country that is supposed to be about freedom and justice for all that we should do.
HOOVER: The one question I have is the term native peoples when you use it. How do you how do you mean that?
MALLORY: The Palestinians are native to the land, you know they were there for a very long time. And so they’re native to the land.
HOOVER: Do. Do you feel that the Jewish people are native as well?
MALLORY: I mean I know I understand the history that you know that there are people who have a number of
sort of ideologies around why the Jewish people feel this should be their land. I’m not Jewish. So for me to speak to that is not fair.
HOOVER: I mean there are people who are concerned that the language “native land” is used to delegitimize Jews from
having a state.
MALLORY: So I’ve been very again– I’m not Jewish. And so I won’t speak to that. What I will speak to is that I believe that then that the Palestinians also need freedom on their, in their land. On their land.
HOOVER: But are Jews native people also?
MALLORY: that is not my call to make
HOOVER: if you’re willing to say that the Palestinians are native but not the Jews are native.
MALLORY: I’m speaking–
HOOVER: I mean you’re not Palestinian either
MALLORY: Because I’m speaking of the people who we know are being brutally oppressed in this moment. That’s just the reality.
HOOVER: Are you unwilling to say that the Jews are native people?
MALLORY: I’m going to repeat– I’m not going to change my answer.
Is it your view that Israel has a right to exist as a nation?
MALLORY: I have said many times.
That I feel everyone has a right to exist. I feel everyone has a right to exist. I just don’t feel that anyone has a right to exist at the disposal of another group. That’s it.
HOOVER: but hold on there’s
only one country that’s targeted for annihilation. And constantly at the brunt of arguments that it doesn’t have a right to exist. Which is, which is why.
MALLORY: But– But I didn’t say that. I said I believe all people have the right to exist. All people.
HOOVER: And in your view does that include Israelis in Israel?
MALLORY: I believe that all people have the right to exist. And that Palestinians are also suffering with a great crisis. And that there are other
Jewish scholars who will sit here and say the same.
I’m done talking about this so you can move move on. Thank you
HOOVER: OK I get it you don’t want to say–
MALLORY: others will say–.
HOOVER: I just don’t think it requires scholarly knowledge to be able to say that Israel has a right to exist
MALLORY: Its– its– again I believe everyone has the right to exist. .
HOOVER: I do want to move on. I do want to talk about a women’s march. I want to wrap that up. there have been some calls people have called for your removal. As I understand it, the calls for you to resign have to do with what some people view as a refusal to denounce or disassociate from remarks from the leader of the nation of islam.
A lot of people are upset because you posted on Instagram calling Louis Farrakhan the greatest of all time. Do you want to respond to that?
MALLORY: No I’m not talking about Minister Farrakhan anymore.
Minister Farrakhan is not a part of the Women’s March so there’s no reason for us to discuss that.
HOOVER: You have said that you didn’t call the leader of the nation of Islam the greatest of all time because of his rhetoric. You called him the greatest of all time because of what he has done in black communities. And it seems to me that the criticism is that– you haven’t been willing to disassociate yourself from his rhetoric.
Which to the Southern Poverty Law Center and to most people is hate speech.
MALLORY: I stand against anti-Semitism. I stand against all forms of bigotry all forms of oppression. I will continue to do that work and I will continue to be in relationship with the Jewish community with the LGBTQIA community and any other community that I feel is being oppressed in this country. And that’s my final answer on that.
HOOVER: You are not one to melt under pressure. Sometimes you have to believe in something even if it means sacrificing everything.
Have you had a moment where you thought the movement might be less divided if you were to resign?
MALLORY: Um, well I mean I think it would be even more divided because if if a woman who has been a part of this movement, a black woman who has helped to do all the beautiful things that everyone has enjoyed, the two years of body of work that we have of bringing people together these great moments that everyone has experienced. I put my blood sweat
and tears into those moments and so if I’m disposed then everyone can be disposed. If I am not someone who this movement represents if intersectionality does not include me then who does it include?
HOOVER: Tamika thank you for being here.
MALLORY: Thank you so much for having me Margaret
HOOVER: Thank you for coming to share your views and coming to really enlighten us and have the real exchange in the back and forth.
MALLORY: Thank you
HOOVER: I really really appreciate it.
MALLORY: I appreciate you all right. Thank you.