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Justice for All or None: A Note on This New Era and Possible Coalition

:– I was at The Women’s March on Washington. I did not wear a #pussyhat. I have since purchased a pussyhat, in pink, from a woman who’s donating proceeds from the hats to PBS and NPR. I will wear it with my #BlackLivesMatter and #LGBTQIA and #EqualRightsAmendment pins. –:

I want all these newly energized liberal-or-progressive-mostly-white women to hear the skepticism we are getting from women of color and lgbtqia folk, especially trans women:

  1. They want us to show up FOR them.
  2. The do not want us to save them, or fix their movements.
  3. They want us to help in the background.
  4. They want us to come to their marches and demonstrations* and risk for them, too.

I have been a feminist scholar all my life, and have been knocking around social justice movements primarily for the last five years or so. I have interviewed many women in the Second Wave and recorded those interviews for posterity (visit Va NOW’s YouTube to watch, they’re rough edits).

What is missing, still, from “white feminism” is deep engagement with the particular issues and experiences of other kinds of women.

We have a huge historical opportunity right now to build coalitions like never before, simply because so many more people are energized and realizing they have skin in the game.

“Intersectionality” is a word requesting this support, this space-making, this basic sharing. “Coalition” is about the strategy for doing that, finding our areas of common concern and really being concerned in common.

I am asking us to do a little learning. To deepen not only your action as a citizen, but to deepen your commitment to Justice for All. This country did not begin oppressing people last year. It started from the beginning. There are good historical reasons for many kinds of people not to trust us white women. Historically, we have ditched on them — every time.

Reading. Do some. There’s more here than a person can do, I know. But, do some. Show up with some education. Don’t ask people in these movements to get you hip, get hip, be cool.

Remember, make space: You get to center your issue and your symbol at your march, at your action. When you show up for others, and when you work intersectionally, the focus can’t stay on you all the time.

* There are huge practical and legal differences between planned and permitted marches compared to direct actions and spontaneous demonstrations. The latter two often involve some kind of not-very-serious law breaking — like blocking a street or highway or entrance to a building, etc. Those actions can result in arrest. Not all activists can be available for that, but we can all be available in support roles that do not risk arrest.

+ Full Disclosure: I’m the Poetry & Social Justice Fellow at Split This Rock and the managing editor of The Quarry.

 

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Katha Pollitt to Judge ACN’s Abortion Rights Poetry Contest – closes Jan. 5, 2015

Let’s get lots of high quality poems for Katha to admire and reward with lovely cash prizes and nation reknown! Share this everywhere!

Deadline: Midnight (EST), January 5, 2015

The Abortion Care Network (ACN), a national organization of independent abortion providers and prochoice supporters, and Split This Rock, a national organization that celebrates poetry that provokes social change, announce our Fourth Annual Abortion Rights Poetry Contest, to be held in conjunction with ACN’s annual conference in March 2015.

We are pleased that our panel of judges this year will include Katha Pollitt, the reknown polemicist, poet and feminist.  She is currently touring the US to promote her new book Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights (2014), a defense of abortion as a social good.  She is also the author of numerous collections of essays and poetry, including The Mind-Body Problem (2009).

The experience of people who seek abortion and other reproductive services is as varied as the individuals involved. For some, there is safety, relief, and good medical care. For others, there is doubt, harassment, and stigma. For all, health care takes place in a politicized context in which even the most basic choices about our bodies, sexuality, and childbearing can be scrutinized. Reproductive rights are also linked to a whole host of other social issues, such as economic status and the accessibility of safe, affordable health care.

ACN and Split This Rock welcome the submission of poems on these themes. We will award the following prizes: First ($100), Second ($75) and Third Place ($50), and Honorable Mention.

Read last year’s winning poems here.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submit up to 3 poems (6 pages maximum) by midnight, January 5, 2015, using Submittable, here: https://splitthisrock.submittable.com/submit/36539.
  • If the form is not accessible to you, please contact us at info@splitthisrock.org.
  • One entry per poet, please.
  • All styles and approaches accepted.
  • Previously published in print is acceptable, but, please, not on the web.
  • Simultaneous submissions accepted. Please inform us at info@splitthisrock.org immediately if the poem has been accepted for publication elsewhere.

Questions?  Contact: info@splitthisrock.org