To the organizers of the Women’s March and A Day without a Woman,
The days leading up to the Women’s March in NYC were quite emotional. Stores were filled with individuals buying posters and markers; giving each other a quiet nod and smile in solidarity, gently expressing “I’m with you”, without having to say anything at all. Similarly, as I walked out my door this morning, March 8th, 2017, I saw the city had been sprinkled with flecks of red - a beanie, a scarf, a jacket, a headband...People of different backgrounds showing their support for women’s rights and equity for all, accompanied by more silent nods and smiles, as they passed each other on the street.
Although these moments may seem small and fleeting, they are anything but. In fact, the mere acknowledgement that our struggles are bound together in order to fight for equitable rights makes the act of wearing red and resisting all the more collective, powerful, and permanent. Moreover, it speaks to our individual souls’ yearning for collective strength: a strength that has been harnessed by our ancestors, which we now carry throughout the present, and into the future.
So, with that said, this letter is being written to express gratitude for your work in helping us all disrupt, interrogate, and we hope, dismantle the capitalist, bigoted, patriarchal “power” that is our current political climate and nation’s history. Your work and momentum has encouraged inclusivity and intersectionality, and is grounded in the spirit of feminists everywhere who believe, like Audre Lorde (1983) that “it is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths...For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”.
You see, the grassroots movement created by the Women’s March on Washington has offered a space for feminists of diverse perspectives to peacefully, yet loudly speak back to the current political climate as well as the historical and persistent structures of inequity. Your identification as intersectional feminists calls on us, as feminists with diverse backgrounds, identities, and perspectives, to bring our whole selves along with our commitments to the movement for human rights and equity. You’ve not only brought us together around a wide range of issues that we individually may (or may not) care about, but by working to include and represent women from diverse backgrounds, you’ve encouraged us to have difficult conversations about our differences, our privileges, and ways that we can stand in solidarity with one another. All of this gives us a venue to coordinate our efforts to fight for women's rights, which are economic rights, which are civil rights, and the rights of all historically marginalized and oppressed people.
Your organization and the events you’ve created take complex feminist theories and apply them to the everyday experiences of women -- a necessary, but often forgotten value of many feminisms. Moreover, you and your supporters work against “the search for the new and the perfect” in feminisms which “often distracts us from what are central organizing theoretical and political themes” (Cho, Crenshaw & McCall). The impact of this work brings us together to build coalition even though we do not necessarily share all approaches, values, and experiences.
We have recently seen the results of what happens when we are either misinformed or disconnected in our struggles. As educators, we believe it is our obligation to provide the educational spaces to dismantle and interrogate perpetual systems of oppression, both in thinking and practice. However, we can not just rely on educators to do this work. We are looking forward to the progression of the coalitions that are forming which both interrogate and practice the meaning of solidarity organizing. We must think about whose knowledge and wisdom we are upholding moving forward, and which ones we should actively dismantle so that white - supremacist - patriarchal - colonialist - normativity is not perpetuated.
As Angela Davis said at the Beyond the Bars Conference, “we must consolidate our movements”. As we ourselves have learned by being in constant learning and conversation with each other, the potential for the future of our country and our world relies on our abilities to truthfully pause and go back to find strength and wisdom in women of color, both in literature and in our personal relationships. As intersectional feminists we must understand the wisdom that comes from our various global women of color who have been practicing a womanist methodology, bringing together the “triad of concerns”: Human - Human Relationships, Human -Nature Relationships, and Human - Spiritual Relationships (Maparyan, 2012). We must learn from those who have already taught us what spiritual activism looks like, such as Gloria Anzaldúa, AnaLouise Keating, Alice Walker, The Water Protectors of Standing Rock, Berta Cáceres, the indigenous peoples around the world, our grandmothers, aunties, sisters, and friends...
Spiritual Activism comes out of a womanist movement: a methodology about the transmutation of energy — mental, emotional, physical, material, social, and environmental change. Stated differently, Spiritual Activism is about manipulating energy for positive social and ecological change (Maparyan, 2012). Think about what power we hold simply by learning how to manipulate our energy. WE ARE MAGICAL.
Thank you for both continuing the tradition, and amplifying the necessity to hold this strike on International Women’s Day. Seeing individuals organize all around the world for the rights and protection of women and other oppressed communities is a beautiful sight to witness and be apart of. Let’s continue to educate, heal, and organize in solidarity amongst our various struggles!
Intersectional Feminists of Teachers College, Columbia University.
Natalie Flores, Jamie Uva, and Cheyenne Wyzzard-Jones
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