Tuesday, February 14, 2017

One Billion Rising---Sometimes We Get It Wrong

Photo from rally organizers

Sometimes we get it wrong.

I read the description of the One Billion Rising rally event scheduled for Salem today and assumed that it would build on the energy released by the recent womens' march and have some sense of intersectionality. And, indeed, I got something of that from the great speaker from the Center for Hope and Safety. The Center needs support and everyone should be helping out.

But I lost my solidarity with the event when a key speaker gave a long talk about the fight for womens' rights and never once connected that the struggle for Black liberation and civil rights or labor rights. It's not like the Civil War "just happened," as this speaker said, and the nation moved on, rolling over women. It would help to acknowledge and apologize for the mainstream womens' movement of the 19th century breaking its solidarity with women of color and not fighting for the right to vote for all and to analyze how that tradition inhibits us today. It would help to criticize mainstream white feminism for not building the needed bridges to women of color, particularly the Latinas and immigrant women and refugees and the LGBTQIA+ communities who especially need our solidarity right now. It would help to extend this solidarity with speakers from these struggles and these communities.

Instead, the speakers went on and there was a dance.

We tried to talk to the event organizers ahead of time in order to raise these issues and offer help and solidarity. That didn't work out.

I did something that I have rarely done---I left a rally whose general goals or mission I supported. I joined another rally around the corner which I happened on by chance. There young people were shouting "Education is a right not just for the rich and white!" and there were some union folks there. I felt at home.

Sometimes we get it wrong.

I was wrong about One Billion Rising.

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