Activism

Honoring Women Workers On Labor Day

 

Labor Day exists to celebrate the contributions of working men and women so let’s talk about so called ‘women's work’. Women undertake 90% of all childcare and domestic chores, and of the two million domestic workers in America, the majority are immigrants and women of color. They lack the basic legal protections and employee rights, and work long hours with little to no pay. Today is a reminder that not all labor is rewarded equally.

 

Women

by Alice Walker  

They were women then
My mama's generation
Husky of voice stout of
Step
With fists as well as
Hands
How they battered down
Doors
And ironed
Starched white
Shirts
How they led
Armies
Headragged generals
Across mined
Fields
Booby-trapped
Ditches
To discover books
Desks
A place for us
How they knew what we
MUST know
Without knowing a page
Of it
Themselves.
 

Protect Black Women

I'm so saddened and angered by the death of Nia Wilson and the stabbing of her sister Letifah by a suspected white supremacist. Although black women make up 13% of the U.S. population, they are the victims of half of the homicides against women in America. It goes without saying that no woman should live in fear of attack simply because of the color of her skin. Nia had just graduated from high school and has been described by her sister as "the most sweetest person on the earth". I truly hope justice is served.

 Illustration by Kaylani Juanita

Illustration by Kaylani Juanita

Celebrate Immigrants

I’m proud to have had my child participate in this incredibly powerful campaign. An homage to the iconic I AM A MAN photograph from 1968, our hope is that this picture will serve as an important reminder that ALL children are human beings and deserving of our protection regardless of their immigration status. I AM A CHILD. #FamiliesBelongTogether

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Less Empowerment, More Power For Women

em.pow.er                                                                                           

make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights

The week of March 8th is always my busiest of the year. Why? Because it's the week of International Women's Day. The one period when all the world's attention is focused on women, our rights, our achievements and our economic development. The emphasis during this time is usually on how we adjust existing systems to ensure women are given equal opportunities. So I prepared myself for the obligatory round of panels and receptions filled with the same rhetoric, knowing that progress would proceed at its usual glacial pace. 

But this year felt different. Women are done with being 'empowered'. We want real power. We're already strong and confident.  We already have a voice and we plan to use it. And there's no better way of sticking two fingers up at the patriarchy than by starting our own businesses and driving our own movements. Gratifyingly, many of the conversations this year were about women breaking the rules and building their own systems, especially via entrepreneurship. Women who build businesses do a huge amount to change the world for us all, and have an incredible amount to teach the world about how both companies and economies should be run. 

 At Theory's Be Heard event. L to R. Dee Poku, Amanda Hesser, Susan Lyne, Shan-Lyn Ma

At Theory's Be Heard event. L to R. Dee Poku, Amanda Hesser, Susan Lyne, Shan-Lyn Ma

 At Berlin Cameron's Girl Brands Do It Better. L to R. Dee Poku, Meg He, Polly Rodriguez, Kristy Wallace, Jennifer DaSilva, Lindsay Stein

At Berlin Cameron's Girl Brands Do It Better. L to R. Dee Poku, Meg He, Polly Rodriguez, Kristy Wallace, Jennifer DaSilva, Lindsay Stein

Protect Roe v Wade

1973. Today marks the 45th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision protecting a woman’s right to choose.  This right continues to be threatened by the current administration and we must defend the ability of all women to have access to quality, affordable reproductive health services. 

At the Women's March this weekend, I wore this t-shirt, a collaboration between Kulestripes and Prinkshop to signal my reliance as a mother, on the ability to control when and how I have children.  All proceeds to the National Institute for Reproductive Health.

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Intersectional Feminism And The Women's March

At last night’s panel for the launch of the new Women's March book, Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World, former Teen Vogue Editor in Chief Elaine Welteroth said something that really resonated. That when Philando Castile was killed she felt isolated in her grief when she went to work the next day. I would like to think that the Women’s March changed that. That people and the conversation have evolved.

The march was a pivotal moment for so many. For some it was their first introduction to activism, for others it was a wake up call. For those already doing the work, it brought welcome new awareness and attention to their movements. But what I’m grateful for is that it drove home the true value and need for intersectional feminism. As co-chair Linda Sarsour put it during the panel discussion: “It wasn’t about this narrow white liberal feminist lens of what women’s issues are. We dictated what women’s issues are - they include immigration, gun violence against people of color, the environment, poverty. To quote Audre Lorde, ‘There is no such thing as a single issue struggle because we don’t live single issue lives.”

The book is filled with photographs and essays that demonstrate the breadth and impact of the march and the influence it had on all of our lives. It is dedicated to the "women, documented and undocumented: the daughters, the mothers, the caregivers, the workers, the trans warriors, the witches, the artists, the refugees, the leaders.  Buy a copy!

 Elaine Welteroth, Cassady Finlay, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Paola Mendoza, Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez

Elaine Welteroth, Cassady Finlay, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Paola Mendoza, Linda Sarsour, Carmen Perez

 Cassady Finlay,  Linda Sarsour, Elaine Welteroth, Cleo Wade, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Paola Mendoza, Cindy Leive

Cassady Finlay,  Linda Sarsour, Elaine Welteroth, Cleo Wade, Sarah Sophie Flicker, Paola Mendoza, Cindy Leive

I added my name to the TIMESUP Letter of Solidarity

300 leading women across the entertainment industry just launched a wide reaching campaign to combat sexual harassment and support disenfranchised women on the receiving end of unwanted advances. Entitled TIMESUP, the initiative does three key things:

  • Provides a $13 million legal defense fund to help women in blue-collar jobs and farm work
  • Drafts of legislation to punish companies that tolerate sexual harassment and to discourage nondisclosure agreements in such cases.
  • Pushes to reach gender parity in Hollywood studios and talent agencies; and a call for women walking the red carpet at the Golden Globes to wear black as a sign of protest and solidarity.

This is an important step in the right direction, particularly in its support of women without the power or platform to stand up to abuse. The campaign was launched via a full page open letter in the New York Times. I just added my name to the Letter of Solidarity and donated to the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund.  It feels like a powerful way to start the year.

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And The Word Of The Year Is Feminism

Merriam Webster just announced that feminism is its word of the year. It was the most looked up term on its online dictionary, generating 70% more searches than 2016. In the year of the Women's March, Wonder Woman and the #MeToo movement, it's no surprise that interest in the word spiked. Women are speaking up and speaking out in greater numbers than ever in a quest to create equity for all.

We are still hugely marginalized across all areas of society - socially and economically - making up pitiful percentages of leadership positions, receiving less pay than our male counterparts and on the receiving end of constant harassment. Globally, we're seeing an increased use of systematic rape as a weapon of war in modern conflicts. 

The Webster dictionary defines feminism as "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" and as the "organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests." After a year where many of society ills and injustices against the female population were laid bare for all to see, lets hope 2018 marks the beginning of real and lasting change

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