By Julie Reardon, Operations Associate
In January, I had the honor of participating as a delegate for the US Chapter of the World March of Women at the Women’s March in DC. As a womxn of color contingency, we brought our diverse representation to a space that is predominantly held by affluent, white narratives.
Womxn of color face the most dire forms of oppression at a disproportionate rate: poverty, violence, criminalization, trafficking, dehumanization, and exploitation. We came together from all around the country, carrying these lived experiences in our hearts.
But before we could march, we broke bread, laughed and cried together. We deepened relationships and planted the seeds of new ones. We came as indigenous, black, brown, and some as both colonized and colonizer, trans, two-spirits and cis.
Our first day together, we connected by co-creating art. We painted posters to represent the hxrstories of endless intersections in our struggles. We hung banners from bamboo donated by the local community garden, and collaborated in making batucadas and drumming tools.
Before marching the next day, we stood grounded in prayer, recognizing the genocide on stolen land and the fallen matriarchs of our movements, like indigenous leader Berta Caceres and politician Marielle Franco. Moments before stepping off , I was very emotional as both a daughter and a mxther of two daughters. I felt the love and rage of generational trauma in my heart, and the solidarity of sxsterhood that demands the cycle of violence on our bodies ends now.
With intention to not privilege one language over another, we chanted in both English and Spanish as we banged on our batucadas, demanding that frontline communities lead our fight for collective liberation. Spanish speaking folx near our contingency were moved to hear their language represented in the microcosm of pink pussy hats and gleefully sang and danced with us. We shared the work to support sweet Baby D on their journey through the cold streets of DC and reaffirmed the value that weekend that the movement to build a grassroots feminist economy must be intergenerational.
Not long after we returned to our warm hotel rooms, we were contacted by our comradxs at Indigenous Environmental Network. Native youth organizers in DC were demanding justice for Nathan Phillips, an indigenous elder who was mocked at the Indigenous People’s March the day before by white, Catholic boys in MAGA hats after attempting to defuse a toxic situation through prayer.
For nearly two hours, more than 30 people stood outside the Basilica, national headquarters for the Catholic church, in solidarity with the Native people harmed by perpetual violence and erasure. We listened to Uncle Nate, as the youth referred to him, as he demanded accountability from the Catholic church, for this behavior. We honored him through song and dance, and surrounded him with our bodies and our love.
During our last day together, we gathered for political education, and discussed the challenges in building a grassroots feminist economy. We identified, first and foremost, how we must heal in order to do this work. We can dismantle and rebuild, so that we carry a gender justice lens in our work, both internally with our respective organizations and externally in how we organize our movements. We held conversations around supporting parents in organizing spaces, normalizing children in work and coalition spaces, providing childcare so a parent can fully participate in a training, having nursing tents at rallies, and redefining the exhaustive and unpaid reproductive labor known as “womxn’s work.” Demanding inclusion of the many types of familial structures and recognizing that our biology is not the decider in our right nor ability to nurture and heal our communities.
I am truly grateful to have shared space with our amazing delegation and the support of Grassroots Global Justice Alliance for the opportunity to carry OPAL’s name with me to DC.
However you are able to celebrate International Womxn’s Day- whether you are striking from your job(s), marching or practicing intentional self-care, know that you are honored.
In solidarity with our global sxsterhood who suffer at the hand of the violent patriarchy- we fight together for the dignity of our bodies, our communities and Mxther Earth. #IWD2019