Whether its women supporting each other in Congress, or women hearing each other out after a long day at work, there is something powerful about seeing and validating one another’s experience. Even the simplest act to show that another person understands what I am going through helps me and encourages me to keep calm and carry on. There is strength when women support each other even if the issues impacting our lives can be different.
Sexism impacts women differently depending on their identity and life experiences of race, socio-economic class, sexual orientation and other identities. Immigrant women, trans women, Black women, Latinas, this year I want to show up and support my peers whether the issue impacts my life directly or not. Women’s rights are not a singular issue but include and span Reproductive Justice, immigrant rights, police brutality, the wage gap, the school to prison pipeline, trans discrimination and all other issues impacting the lives of women and girls.
Popular culture would have us believe that women are catty, competitive, and not to be trusted. The reality is, everyday women show up for each other, support one another and when it counts fight for one another. Women give of themselves to their children, partners, and communities and exhibit leadership that rarely gets acknowledged or celebrated. Women and their contributions to historical movements are often rendered invisible. I celebrate teachers, I celebrate activists, I celebrate youth workers and foster parents and all the women who not only march on a single day but demonstrate everyday care in their communities.
I celebrate women from different generations. When I think about the struggles of my grandmother and mother and the sacrifices that they made so that I could live a better life, I feel gratitude and humility. Both the women in my family and friends in my life are people who help me to feel as if anything is possible and when I feel like giving up remind me of who I am and what I was put on this earth to do.
I would encourage you that if you do have close friends that are women, particularly women of color check in on them, encourage them, build them up. If you are seeking community and these types of friendships get plugged into local organizations that support women and girls. And lastly, show love to the young girls in our lives- be a mentor!
“We need to support the incredible, powerful women around us. We need to encourage that power. We need to delight in it. We need to make sure the power of other women is enjoyed and celebrated”- Shonda Rhimes
Black and Brown communities have long been plagued by the same oppressive tactics of disenfranchisement, violence, and criminalization of their identities. We live side by side, going to the same schools, going to the same grocery store, working the same jobs. Our struggles are similar and yet often we are bystanders rather than active in solidarity. This is not accidental, historically and culturally carrying over to the present day; communities of color have been divided and pitted against each other as a means of control.
Growing up Latinx, there are subtle and explicit ways in which I was socialized to be anti-black. Whether it was family members that complained that their Black coworkers weren’t pulling their weight or even in dating the phrase “mejorar la Raza” literally means make the race better by marrying whiter. Not to mention external forces in mainstream media that bombard the psyche with stereotypes.
Living and growing up side by side with Black people in a diverse community like Sacramento, meant that I have always had friends that were Black for as long as I could remember. And its easy when you have friends that are Black to feel a sense of exemption from the racism that swirls around us. Yet the real test of our friendships, of our values, of our love of people is where we stand when times get tough; our capacity to empathize and show up for each other.
Our reactions to the live action anti-blackness we witness tell the truth. When there is police brutality, do we shrug our shoulders and ask why they had x in their hand? Do we take to the streets and console crying mothers who will never again see their sons? When a coworker get passed over for a promotion or is put down in a meeting, do I stick my neck out for them or stay silent to avoid rocking the boat?
There are risks to solidarity, of being seen as a trouble maker, perceived loss of status and or being called overly sensitive. In a systemic racism, there are rewards for compliance, to being a bystander, to turning a blind eye, to mimic and be in proximity to whiteness. In essence to be a token, is to subscribe to the ideologies of whiteness, even to the detriment of communities of color. And often non-black people of color choose to be a bystander out of sheer survival. This how systemic racism continues to thrive as an environment in which we ignore history and its implications that play out in the day to day in the lives of Black & Brown people.
We can do better, I can do better. We do not have to resign ourselves to apathy but rather we can choose to live out a life that values others enough to take on their struggles as our own. While I may never know what its like to walk this earth as Black person, I can hold space for the pain, the anger, and show up for people. Because today its for you, tomorrow for me.