As we mark the one year anniversary of 45’s inauguration and the historic Women’s March, we the women in AF3IRM cannot state it enough: forward to a feminist future!
This past year, we have witnessed the growing activation of women around the country, moving from the Women’s March to #MeToo and #TimesUp. In 2017, AF3IRM brought women together as core organizers for the Women’s March in Hawaii, for our International Women’s Day March in LA, on International Women’s Day as part of the US coalition for the International Women’s Strike, at our national #CenterShift conference in New York, and at the #MeToo rallies in Los Angeles.
We push forward, dedicated to the liberation of women and the difficult groundwork that a feminist future demands. As transnational, women of color, we learn from the past and from our own experiences. We build our own theory and put it into practice. We join coalitions and engage with women beyond borders, from Canada to Mexico, Peru and the Philippines. We organize women and girls one-on-one and en masse. We dream beyond basic survival and the status quo, and most importantly, we hold each other and all others accountable in this path to freedom.
Activism is about creating a cultural shift, and for our liberation to be won, it must be seismic. As more people choose to organize and to get organized, we recognize the demanding work and gains of movement-building when we see it. It will take all kinds of people as well as new visions and passion to change this world we live in.
But as transnational feminists, with personal and collective histories of organizing and survival, we know we must fight to keep our visions for a feminist future alive–in all spaces. We must challenge misogyny, racism, classism, ableism, transphobia, Islamophobia, Zionism, harassment, abuse, and sheer privilege everywhere, even within activist movements. Too often AF3IRM has witnessed oppressive power relationships replicated, women of color’s work erased, and attempts made to extinguish the growing and fiery feminist movement by mass mobilization leadership that fails to center women, women of color, and community-based organizations.
We in AF3IRM will not participate in or endorse this year’s Women’s March, because we cannot and will not concede when our communities are tokenized, ignored, and are not met with the same intentions for horizontal comradeship. We have experienced proposed partnerships break down, splintering actions and events; organizing spaces co-opted; and genuine grievances ignored. In Hawaii, we were shut out of the Women’s March space for which we were one of the main organizers – with shared social media account passwords changed, lists seized, and communication cut off – almost as soon as the march ended last year. Now there is no Women’s March in Hawaii, only the People’s Rally, shifting even the original focus of the mass mobilization. In Los Angeles, we came to the table this year looking for a coalition-based relationship with Women’s March LA (WMLA), but we and other community organizations found our critiques of the inaugural Women’s March and our requests for a program representative of LA’s diverse communities and vibrant activism dismissed. We know our history – upon which women’s backs the suffragette, reproductive rights, environmental, and labor movements were built on – and we see WMLA’s responses reflecting this historic unbalanced relationship between white liberal feminists and women of color feminists. By relegating women of color issues as secondary or nominal, this year’s gathering failed us before it even began. And so we push forward.
Onward to a feminist future that is intersectional, intentional, and revolutionary! We challenge those who show up to march this weekend to show up every single day for justice. We challenge you to do work beyond the ballot box – especially as it fails to reflect the voices of the youth, the formerly incarcerated, the undocumented. We challenge you to resist a leader and his administration not just because he is a misogynist, but also because he is racist, capitalist, and pro-militarization. We challenge you to seek justice – not just for yourself but for the most marginalized and oppressed among us. Move past discomfort and anger when confronted about a lack of diversity, representation and intersectionality because this means more work needs to be done! The issues plaguing those of us in the margins are the amplified signs of systems that can and must be dismantled to achieve liberation for us all.
Let us move forward to a feminist future that recognizes that the work and vision of women of color will lead to change! We invite you on Saturday, March 3rd to downtown Los Angeles as AF3IRM LA leads its fourth consecutive International Women’s Day mass march and rally, mobilizing thousands of women and allies and purposefully organized by and centering women of color – especially trans, young, immigrant, black, indigenous, poor and marginalized women of color. Join us on March 3rd for this important gathering and engage with AF3IRM nationwide in our chapters’ work throughout the year and beyond as we move ever closer towards the transformative and brilliant feminist future that we know waits on the horizon.