Let’s talk about mass mobilizing around a national strike for women’s rights…
The women who are financially able to participate in a national strike are going to be predominantly privileged white women. Because of the income disparity between Black and Brown women and white women AND between low income women and middle/upper class women, a national strike perpetuates racial and class inequity.
We must look at intersectional feminism in response to Roe v Wade and the onslaught of Supreme Court decisions being made that are inequitably revoking freedom. The rage reaction of many white women is valid and deserves to be looked at in the context of long withstanding oppression against Women of Color and people with LGBTQA+ identities.
And so it is to Women of Color and LGBTQA+ leadership where cis-gendered women seeking mass mobilization for women’s rights must turn for direction. People who have been historically excluded have been organizing around oppression for decades and white women are needed to join this work for all of our collective liberation.
When white women promote white feminism by centering white ideas and strategies, race, class, and gender identity divisions are perpetuated.
Here is Nicole Cardoza’s voice, a BIPOC woman who publishes the Anti-Racism Daily newsletter on the matter (published 6.26.22):
“Taking away one’s bodily autonomy is oppression – the same oppression we fight against when we advocate for racial justice. To say that abortion rights are separate from racial inequities implies that there are different groups responsible for those oppressions. But the same structures and systems that oppress marginalized racial groups are taking away reproductive rights. White supremacy is the cause, and no one is safe – not even white child-carrying people.
Controlling who can have children, when and how is a violent and intentional tool of oppression. It will disproportionately impact marginalized groups – and that is also intentional. We’ve seen this throughout our history. Reproductive suppression has been used to oppress child-carrying people, particularly those most marginalized.
In addition, the ruling on Roe v. Wade will likely be used to strip ourselves of other civil rights, like the right to marry people from other races, marry someone of the same sex, and gain access to contraception.
In this work, none of us get the luxury to pick and choose which parts of the system we want to dismantle, and which to leave intact. Without acknowledging all of it, we won’t move forward. Abortion has everything to do with anti-racism because banning abortions is a racist, ableist, and homophobic action.” ~ Nicole Cardoza, Anti-Racism Daily
As Nicole clearly communicates, we must look at the ENTIRE system of dominance — patriarchy, white supremacy, ableism, cis/hetero norms, AND capitalism as all interdependent and can only be dismantled together.
White women following the lead of Women of Color builds collective power and resource. We all buckle down on building the relationships, webs, networks, support systems, etc, etc, etc to co-create an underground railroad of information, resource, and support while ALSO caring for those whose needs would not be met in the instance of a national strike.
As has been communicated clearly in anti-racism efforts, middle and upper class white women are being asked stretch beyond comfort zones to build the support networks so women with less can sustain themselves through social upheaval, generating viability for intersectional participation of women. And this requires cultural shifts in how to engage with time and space so that movement building can become an integral part of our daily lives.
It takes time and the Far Right has been organizing diligently since the murder of JFK for a completely different intention and impact, however the diligence and commitment of the repetitive practices is the same concept. It is the essence of “grassroots marketing” and “public relations” — my former career areas of expertise. It is with that lens I try to offer concrete, specific actions for white women to take, building on the tireless messages echoed time after time by Women of Color and LGBTQA+ co-creators and the visionary leaders whose work EmpowR moves forward.
The longer we push aside the diligent work of self actualization, because we are conditioned to seek something heroic and dramatic, the more we are stuck to the patriarchal hero narrative rather than the long game of cultural transformation.
Part of my own commitment and what is asked of me in this work is communicating from the EmpowR platform in ways that can more clearly be understood by white audiences. In doing so, I also share these ideas from my own personal lived experience.
What does movement building look like for mass mobilization?
Transformation is EMERGENCE. Letting go of the old to make space for the new. Releasing from outdated expectations so we have the time, space, and resources to collectively affect change. By engaging in these kinds of movement building ideas and practices, we discover what emergence looks like into the equitable and just systems we seek. When we lean into the trust of self actualization and awareness, we begin to shift our behaviors and perspectives, building new patterns of being that can move us towards collective liberation.
- Support organizations and businesses led by people with less resource and who have been more historically excluded than you. This includes BIPOC folx, LBGTQA+ folx, people with physical and mental health challenges, and people who have less economic security than you.
- Support women political candidates who stand for racial, gender, sexual, ability, and economic/class equity and justice. Go beyond voting and offer financial support, volunteer for what is needed, spread the word to your network.
- Listen to many different people’s lived experiences and believe them, no matter how much that reality makes you uncomfortable, including how much your own wealth and privilege may have contributed to someone else’s suffering.
- Listen to what people ask for support and respond to what they say is needed instead of offering “free advice.”
- Learn how to withstand your own ability to be uncomfortable. This is a muscle you can start building by putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, giving yourself permission to be messy, and building relationship and support networks with people who are also trying to expand capacity for discomfort.
- Heal your relationship with yourself and your perfectionism.
- If you have a high amount of resource and abundance, offer to people with less.
- Speak up and challenge the status quo and inequities in your place of work.
- Build and strengthen authentic relationships and webs of connection and support so if you lose access and opportunities for speaking up, you have support networks to turn to. Support people who may have lost access to opportunities and help them open some more doors.
- Gather in community with more people committed to equity to build coalition and movement in this work. Recognize this may be uncomfortable at first and is a great place to practice strengthening your discomfort muscle.
- Explore how to disengage from rugged individualism and intentionally engage in communal care and support with others in how we manage our homes and households by sharing and offering resources and labor.
- Engage in community activism, relationship building, and unlearning experiences which might mean reallocating time and expectations so you can be more present to build community.
- If your children have an abundance of opportunities, engage with them to discuss how to share with children with less.
- Engage with people who are different from you. Practice emotional agility and maturity in uncomfortable political space and let go of righteousness in like-minded spaces.
- Learn how to reframe your judgments and opinions into empathy and listening.
- Re-evaluate how you show up in relationships and friendships and recognize where you cause harm to the people you love. Then it might be easier to see how you cause harm to people you don’t know.
- Unpack your white ancestral and intergenerational trauma. Take a hard look at how and why envy, competition, mistrust, and judgments are such cultural attributes of white women and how they hinder our ability to co-create the change we seek. Read more about the history of white women culture here.
- Advocate for community conversations that are inclusive of everyone! Including people whose politics you don’t like. There is a way to facilitate understanding and it begins with all of us relinquishing reliance on top down forces that benefit from our division.
- Recognize how the harm of liberal elitism has perpetuated division between progressive ideology and conservative values by promoting public policy without adequate community engagement to foster understanding of lived experiences.
- Find a different relationship with time which includes advocating for different time expectations in jobs and family responsibilities and developing the skills to be able to speak up, communicate, and advocate for change.
In no way am I implying that I have it figured out or that I do all these things as intended. Quite the contrary. I mess up and make mistakes all the time. And I recognize that “one right way” is a core attribute of white dominant culture that I practice releasing from every single day, even though it can be really hard to let go of the norms we were raised to follow.
I am committed to living in a frequency of courage and continuing to show up, trying new ways to be the change I want to see in the world.
Calling on women business owners, leaders, and executives
Calling on “socially responsible businesses”
Calling on human rights and sustainability organizations and nonprofits
How do we connect all of our networks and webs into collective power?
Paying for abortions and travel is just one small step towards building the coalition we need.
Funders – where is the resource for the long game of movement building?
Who pays for the work to weave the webs of support so resource can be distributed into collective safety webs in ways that are led by People of Color and other historically excluded groups because they know how to do this?
We need collective action so those with less are supported and those with more can reallocate power, privilege, and resource and also be supported so we can resist, revolt and revolutionize together!
This means breaking the chokehold of capitalism and finding a NEW WAY! We will never find the time and resource to do what must be done if we keep trying to maintain the system that is the source of oppression. Capitalism and Racism, Control of Women’s Bodies, and the Foundations of the Christian Church go all the way back – read more about capitalism’s connection to transformative justice here and capitalism’s connection to women’s rights and the Christian Church here.
We need to break the system that feeds us and create a new system to support our needs and we cannot do that living in a rugged individualistic culture — without being in network, relationship, and community with each other we just spin in our own silos. Dominant systems were created to KEEP US APART as a way to control the potential of our collective power for women rights.
A new way goes beyond socialism or any kind of existing structure. How can we break away from scarcity mindset and create a system of abundance? How do we come to terms that we may not see the impacts of our work in our lifetime? How do we find faith and belief in something bigger than ourselves? When do the divine feminine powers that flow with the rage of the river emerge into the force of the ocean with guidance from Spirit to sustain hope and release from fear?
Lastly, I will conclude by saying many of the people reading this will likely be from Vermont as that is where I live. In Vermont, we suffer from such a deep elitism it blinds us to our insular culture and our own exclusion of each other.
Vermont is becoming a refugee state and it is up to all of us to co-create conditions where civility, respect, empathy, understanding, communal care, and inclusion of all are the cultural norms. And so I return to the list of ways to engage in movement building as a really solid place to start.
Thank you for reading and please share with people you know.
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