Last night I had the privilege and honor of joining fellow woman of color feminist writers and activists to discuss the #Solidarityisforwhitewomen hashtag.
Joining me as panelists were: Olivia Canlas, NYC Chapter Coordinator for AF3IRM; Tiloma Jayasinghe, Executive Director for Sakhi for South Asian Women; Nicole Moore, Founder of The Hotness; and Patricia Valoy, Feminist Blogger for “Womanisms” and “Everyday Feminism”.
The event was hosted by NOW and moderated by NOW-NYC Activist Alliance members Maureen Ahmed and Annamaria Santamaria.
The conversation was long and enriching. I left the event feeling challenged and inspired by the wisdom and devotion of my fellow panelists as well as other activists in the room. We covered topics from VAWA to immigration to Miley to Leaning In, and everything in between. I highly recommend checking out the hashtag #NOWwomenofcolor to learn more about what was discussed.
One theme that kept coming up is the tension between creating movements that are united and able to achieve tangible wins for our community, and holding each other accountable as feminists when we fail to live up to our vision of creating an intersectional movement. This was especially apparent in the conversation around VAWA, for example, when Tiloma spoke candidly and insightfully about some of the bill’s strengths and failures. Despite bringing significant funding to domestic violence organizations like hers, VAWA fails, she said, because it is fundamentally a “law-and-order” response to violence. This doesn’t always help when systems of protection are embedded with racism. Mainstream organizations were also willing to drop the needs of immigrant women in negotiations on VAWA, partially because women of color were not able to be at the table as a unified force. This is how we are divided; these are the hard choices our communities face.
I joked during the panel that I’d like to see a hashtag #solidarityisforwoc come out of the event, because I rarely feel so connected to the people around me in such a strong spirit of solidarity. It’s clear coming out of an even like this that women of color have a lot to gain by continuing to support each other’s voices and demanding that our work and our issues are not tacked on additions, but central and instrumental to the work of the mainstream feminist movement moving forward.
Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships and Outreach. She has a girl crush on every single one of the panelists described above.