Tamika Mallory, a Women’s March organizer and co-president, defended herself after she faced backlash for attending Saviour’s Day 2018 in Chicago last month, where the Rev. Louis Farrakahn made several controversial, anti-Semitic and homophobic remarks.
“I didn’t expect my presence at Saviour’s Day to lead anyone to question my beliefs,” Mallory wrote in a News One op-ed.
According to CNN’s Jake Tapper, Farrakhan called “powerful Jews” his enemy and said they were to blame for “all this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.
Claiming that they ruled the media and United States government, Farrakhan argued that Jewish people are trying to use their influence to grow the LGBTQ community and force the FBI to push to legalize marijuana in order to “feminize” Black men.
As a public figure in the current struggle for women’s equality and a collaborative activist in the fight for rights of many marginalized groups, Mallory said she is aware of the pain her presence at Saviour’s Day might have caused.
“I have heard the pain and concerns of my LGBTQAI siblings, my Jewish friends and other Black women,” Mallory wrote. “I affirm the validity of those feelings, and as I continue to grow and learn as both an activist and as a woman, I will continue to grapple with the complicated nature of working across ideological lines and the question of how to do so without causing harm to vulnerable people,” she wrote.
Yet, while Mallory said she understands the damaging effect of Farrakhan’s comments, she does not comprehend why the very movement she helped build would want to tear her down.
“I am the same woman who helped to build an intersectional movement that fights for the rights of all people and stands against hatred and discrimination of all forms. I am the same person today that I was before Saviour’s Day, which begs the question- why are my belief’s being questioned now?” Mallory wrote.
Mallory said she has been attending Saviour’s Day for over 30 years. She began going as a child with her parents, and then began attending on her own once her son’s father was killed about 17 years ago.
“In that most difficult period of my life, it was the women of the Nation of Islam who supported me and I have always held them close to my heart for that reason,” she wrote.
Beyond her personal ties, Mallory said that she needed to be at Saviour’s Day because her leadership role requires her to be in such spaces.
“Where my people are is where I must also be. I go into difficult spaces,” Mallory wrote.
Because of her various ties to organizations, Mallory said it is not fair to judge her.
“It is impossible for me to agree with every statement or share every viewpoint of the many people who I have worked with or will work with in the future. As I do not wish to be held responsible for the words of others when my own history shows that I stand in opposition to them, I also do not think it is fair to question anyone who works with me, who supports my work and who is a members of this movement because of the ways that I may have fallen short here or in any other instance,” she wrote.
She now wants people to understand that with the varying views that convoy the massive movement for equality, it is important to create new spaces for progress.
“My fellow Women’s March leaders believe that we can be the bridge to connect different groups in the name of our shared liberation. We don’t just step into difficult spaces, we create new ones,” she wrote.