Last month, George Zimmerman walked free after murdering Trayvon Martin, a young, unarmed, black man. Last year, Marissa Alexander, a black woman from Florida, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot into her kitchen wall to scare off her abusive husband, against whom she had a protective order. Just a month later, CeCe McDonald, a black transgender woman, was sentenced to prison for defending herself against a racist and trans-phobic assault. These cases have demonstrated the way in which our “justice” system routinely devalues the lives of people of color in this country.
Additionally, black people continue to face unemployment rates double those of white people, police brutality in epidemic proportions, increasingly segregated schools, and disproportionately high incarceration rates. Today there are more black men behind bars than there were enslaved in 1850, and black women are the fastest-growing prison demographic.
Fifty years after the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream Speech”, the struggle for racial justice continues. On August 24th, we march on Washington. The National Action Network and NAACP are mobilizing thousands of people across the country for a march, dubbed the National Action to Realize the Dream March. Over seventy high-level groups have endorsed the march, representing a diverse range of organizations, including unions and religious and youth organizations. While the original focus was to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, protests for Trayvon Martin surrounding the acquittal of George Zimmerman have reshaped the context, further radicalizing the black community and its allies, and more sharply politicizing the demonstration. We, Boston Feminists for Liberation, march because we recognize that sexism is only one of myriad interlocking systems of oppression. We are committed to fighting racism, classism, imperialism, ableism, homophobia, and cissexism both within the feminist movement and in society as a whole. As organizers dedicated to liberation, we know we cannot succeed in any one of these fights alone, and that the capitalist system has always relied upon the division of oppressed groups in order to reproduce and maintain its existence.
While national conversations on race have centered upon Trayvon Martin, the cases of Marissa Alexander and CeCe McDonald illustrate the intersections of race, gender, and class in this country. In a letter about the racism of the criminal justice system and in support of the August 24th march on Washington, CeCe McDonald wrote, “I feel a revolution is amongst us, and I know that there is no better time than now.” It is not enough to adopt anti-racist rhetoric in our meetings or assert the need for more voices from feminists of color. How can we talk about abortion access without calling for an end to forced sterilization? How can we talk about domestic violence without talking about undocumented women who are deported when they call the police on their abusers?
White feminists have historically failed to act on their supposed commitment to “equality for all.” We are attending the march on the 24th because we know that past failures of white feminists have contributed to a world where black lives are devalued. We are heartened to see that several other feminist groups are organizing for the march, including Unite Women NY, Feminist Majority Foundation and Black Women’s Health Imperative. As feminists, we need to struggle and support the fight for black liberation, recognizing the strength oppressed groups have when united. Fighting patriarchy without fighting white supremacy is as impossible as it is meaningless. Women’s liberation requires black liberation, just as black liberation is unachievable without women’s liberation.
We either fight for all people’s liberation, or we are fighting for no one’s.
See you in DC,
Boston Feminists for Liberation