News and Commentary

Report: First Time Women’s March Leaders Met, Two Leaders Asserted Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theories

The first time the leadership of the Women’s March met, two of its leaders, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez, allegedly promulgated such nasty anti-Semitism that according to sources for Tablet Magazine, the incident was buried for two years and is only now surfacing. Sources who attended the meeting on November 12, 2016, said Perez and Mallory allegedly stated that Jews had a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people and allegedly added that Jews were leaders of the American slave trade.

As Leah McSweeney and Jacob Siegel write in Tablet:

These are canards popularized by The Secret Relationship between Blacks and Jews, a book published by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam—”the bible of the new anti-Semitism,” according to Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who noted in 1992: “Among significant sectors of the black community, this brief has become a credo of a new philosophy of black self-affirmation.”

McSweeney and Siegel note that Mallory and co-leader Bob Bland deny to this day that such rhetoric was used; Bland insisted, “There was a particular conversation around how white women had centered themselves—and also around the dynamics of racial justice and why it was essential that racial justice be a part of the women’s rights conversation,” while Mallory said to Tablet, “Carmen and I were very clear at that [first] meeting that we would not take on roles as workers or staff, but that we had to be in a leadership position in order for us to engage in the march. … Other than that, there was no particular conversation about Jewish women, or any particular group of people.”

Yet multiple sources confirmed the incident to Tablet. There were other alleged instances of anti-Semitism; Evvie Harmon, who was the Women’s March co-global coordinator with Breanne Butler, recalled an incident in January 2017 at a meeting of the leaders of the Women’s March at Mallory’s apartment. Tablet writes, “In attendance were Mallory, Evvie Harmon, Breanne Butler, Vanessa Wruble, Cassady Fendlay, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour.”

Harmon told Tablet:

We sat in that room for hours. Tamika told us that the problem was that there were five white women in the room and only three women of color, and that she didn’t trust white women. Especially white women from the South. At that point, I kind of tuned out because I was so used to hearing this type of talk from Tamika. But then I noticed the energy in the room changed. I suddenly realized that Tamika and Carmen were facing Vanessa, who was sitting on a couch, and berating her—but it wasn’t about her being white. It was about her being Jewish. “Your people this, your people that.” I was raised in the South and the language that was used is language that I’m very used to hearing in rural South Carolina. Just instead of against black people, against Jewish people. They even said to her ‘”your people hold all the wealth.” You could hear a pin drop. It was awful.

And Wruble was not a peripheral figure; she was central. As one source said of Wruble, “From the very beginning, Vanessa [Wruble] was leading. She was the operational leader. She made sure all the people doing our various pieces were operating coherently. She walked people through all of the things that had happened, and then those that needed to happen. Some people were focused on logistics, some on community engagement, other people were working on the website—and she was the linchpin of it all, especially in the early days.”

Tablet reported on the goings on after Mallory appeared at the Saviours’ Day event hosted by racist and anti-Semitic figure Louis Farrakhan:

On Mar. 11, 2018, the Women’s March had their bi-weekly phone call with national organizers. The public controversy had started to explode over Mallory’s attendance at the Saviours’ Day event, during which, in the course of a three-hour speech, Farrakhan blamed Jews for “degenerate behavior in Hollywood, turning men into women and women into men.” Angie Beem, president of the Washington State chapter, remembered that phone call. “Many of us were upset,” Beem told Tablet. “She is the face of a women’s march, and our mission and values are equality and inclusion. To openly praise someone like this went against everything we were supposed to stand by.” Beem described a sense of awkwardness as Mallory went on to defend Farrakhan to over 40 women on the call. And she wasn’t alone, Beem said; Perez and Bland jumped in to defend him as well. “They said to us: ‘You know, he has done some great things for people of color.’ They didn’t denounce anything he said, they only did that recently.”

Tablet asked Mercy Morganfield, a former spokesperson for the Women’s March, if she thought the co-chairs are anti-Semitic. She responded, “There are no Jewish women on the board. They refused to put any on. Most of the Jewish people resigned and left. They refused to even put anti-Semitism in the unity principles.”