When Donald Trump approaches the podium to wheeze through his sad little State of the Union address Tuesday night (when most of us would rather be watching Phylicia Rashad and Susan Kelechi Watson devour scenery on This Is Us), he will likely be greeted with a sea of white.
No, it won’t be the hoods of the Ku Klux Klan (though we’re guessing he wishes). It’ll be the legion of congresswomen who stand in opposition to the Fanta Menace’s policies on women’s rights (and women, in general), amongst other problematic policies.
As a silent protest, a number of women from both sides of the aisle will be donning white outfits at the behest of the Democratic Women’s Working Group, which proposed the gesture as both a nod to the all-white garb worn by members of the suffrage movement, “as well as to represent the goals of the new congressmen and women who just began their terms in office,” reports Glamour.
Of course, this won’t be the first time congressional women have dressed in protest of the man currently in the oval; Democratic women did the same at Trump’s first State of the Union in 2017, as a demonstration of their dissent and collective strength. In 2018, the color was black, in support of the Me Too and Time’s Up movements.
With a blue wave flooding the House with Democratic women last November—and a few Republican women joining the fray—this year’s demonstration is set to be even bigger, especially in the wake of the recent government shutdown and announcement of several prominent Democrats entering the 2020 presidential race.
“It’s about sending a positive message, that Democrats are fighting for the people, by promoting economic security for women and families,” Rep. Lois Frankel (D-Fl.), chair of the DWWG, told Glamour. “We’re talking about paycheck fairness, combating sexual harassment, family-friendly workplaces, and getting more resources for affordable child care. These are the kinds of issues that will raise the wages of women and help make our families more secure.”
Many may pause at this tribute to suffragettes, since it is well known that in its original iteration (and to some extent, its second and third waves), the women’s movement by and large became “an extension of white supremacy” as Teen Vogue aptly quipped in 2017. But also true is the fact that the first black female presidential candidate, Shirley Chisholm, famously wore a white suit to her congressional swearing in, a gesture repeated by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez this year, who credited both Chisholm and the suffragettes as “mothers of the movement.”
But of course, the issue of Trump’s address is likely to be immigration—and he may see at least one familiar face in tonight’s audience in protest of his draconian policies. The Washington Post reports that an undocumented worker who, until recently, was one of many who worked at least two Trump National Golf Clubs in the New York/New Jersey area, will be attending the 2019 State of the Union as a guest of Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.). No word if Guatemalan maid-turned-immigration activist Victorina Morales will also wear white, but she is one of several prominent “plus-ones” congresswomen are bringing to tonight’s address; a move modeled after the Time’s Up movement’s guests at the 2018 Golden Globes.
“We don’t have to come in on Tuesday and even talk about Mr. Trump,” Frankel told Glamour. “We want to talk about what we can do for our country and what we can do for our people.”