On The Women’s March

By An Anonymous Member

I don’t want to write this post. I love women. I believe in the political power of women. Women, an experience and identity formed through trauma and pain, is also a site of joy and sexuality and resistance. To organize as women for women is a potent antidote to a world poisoned by white supremacy, male supremacy, and capitalism. And yet, I must ask you all to not support the women’s march occurring tomorrow.

The women’s march could have been something incredible. It could have been the launching point of a reinvigorated women’s liberation movement. Instead, it is an event devoid of politics, integrity, and solidarity with women across backgrounds. The left, including us at BFL, owns some of this. When it comes to populist actions such as the women’s march, the agenda is set by whatever group can get the Facebook event up the fastest. The left has been in a reactionary position for a long time, despite knowing the anniversary of the women’s march would be significant, we did not make moves to organize it.

However, that does not excuse or explain the egregious actions taken by the current women’s march organizers. It is a women’s march, yet no women’s group or antiviolence group is involved in the organizing nor did the organizers reach out to them.

The organizing meetings were kept private (which is not a problem in and of itself), but without subsequent outreach, it resulted in the rest us scrambling to find basic information about who was behind this and how we could plug in. A small group of leftists was finally able to access a meeting last week, where we were continually shouted down by the organizers for bringing up the issue of working with police as well as the fascists who claim to be marching in solidarity with them. They claimed we were disrespecting the process ( a process that dedicated 3x more time to scheduling the next meeting than it did to actually discussing the ethics of paying Cambridge Police Department thousands of dollars for police details).

Yes, you read that right. Our local fascist group, Resist Marxism, has had an event page up for at least a month claiming to march *with* the women’s march, in support of women, and even has a lineup of female speakers (North Shore Antifa has good background information on them at this link). And yes, you read that other thing right. The women’s march organizers are trying to raise $5000 to cover the cost of permits and fees, a large chunk of which will be going straight in Cambridge Police Departments pockets. Anything left over will be split among the organizations involved (again, none of which are women’s organizations or anti-domestic/ sexual violence organizations).

The police are a white supremacist and male supremacist organization. They are a danger and an enemy to all women. They exist to protect the men who hurt us and punish our sisters who speak out. And it is black women who bear the brunt of that punishment. The money given to Cambridge PD will be used to incarcerate, beat, sexually assault, and punish women as well as men of color (and anyone else not rich enough/ powerful enough to buy them off). The women’s march is funding the very institution that is standing in the way of our liberation.

The most egregious aspect coming out of all this the fact that the organizers made the conscious decision to lie to you all about Resist Marxism and the role of the police. Last Thursday, I raised up the point that they are well organized, they will be there, and they will hurt women. In response, the organizers said that it was best to ignore them, that they had a right to be there. As we have argued on this blog before, that strategy allows fascists to grow and it is imperative that they not be allowed a platform of any kind. I responded saying as much as well as emphasizing the danger they were putting the attendants in, not only by allowing Resist Marxism a platform, but by not informing people that fascists would be present.  They eventually agreed to put out a statement.

I want to stop here. I want to write a story where we struggled together, hurt each other but in the end, had each other’s backs. I love women. I believe many of the women involved in this are new and well meaning. I think many of the women involved in this could be incredible organizers, once they have experience and mentorship. I know all of the women involved in this have been targeted by male supremacy in one way or another, we all have. That is why we need to fight. I don’t want to continue writing this. But I have to.

Their statement is lying. You can read it here: https://sites.google.com/site/januarycoalition/announcements/counterprotests-1. This was published after the meeting where I and other leftists informed them of Resist Marxism’s presence. It originally said there was a small chance of counter-protesters, but that was normal and to be expected at any protest event and that they would have peace police keepers to prevent “violence”. It was clear in the meeting that preventing violence meant turning people who confronted Resist Marxism using a diversity tactics would be turned over to the police.

Because of community pressure, they edited the statement to acknowledge that one group of counter-protesters will be in attendance and added that police would only be involved as a last resort. That is still a lie. Resist Marxism is not coming as counter-protesters, the police are already heavily involved, and the organizer’s refusal to face the politics of this situation and provide a coherent analysis of the fascists attempt at cooptation only makes it that much easier for feminist causes to be mutated by white supremacy. Given that the collective organizing this march is almost entirely white and that fascists organizers and collaborators such as Garret Kirkland and Daniel Kontoff (who is also a serial harasser of women) have been freely allowed to comment on their event page, it begs the question of who the organizers are aligned with. It certainly isn’t sex workers or black women or trans women or homeless women or fat women or undocumented women or lesbians or disabled women (despite the claims of the organizers that they are working with the city solely to make the event more accessible) or Jewish women or bi women or women who have been targeted by male violence. Frankly, I can’t think of a single group of women who are being prioritized by this action except for white women who, whether it be for lack of consciousness or malice, are aligned with white supremacy.

I’m a white woman. I’ll be there confronting the fascists as will the rest of BFL. To be liberated from Gender as white women are to openly and proudly reject Whiteness, to betray our race and the violent legacy we are implicated in. We ask that if you plan to attend, join us in confronting the fascists.

We will not be there in support of the march or the organizers, we can’t be. It would betray everything we have fought against and everything we hope to build.  The day will come where millions of women will march together under a united platform of liberation and on that day, we will march with the joy

In Solidarity With #OperationPush

As abolitionists who believe in a free and just society for all people, Boston Feminists for Liberation stands in solidarity with #OperationPush and the resistance of all incarcerated people. operation push solidarityWe echo the demands listed below:

•Stop the overcrowding and acts of brutality committed by officers throughout FDOC which have resulted in the highest death rates in prison history.

• Expose the environmental conditions we face, including extreme temperatures, mold, contaminated water, and being placed next to toxic sites such as landfills, military bases and phosphate mines (including a proposed mine which would surround the Reception and Medical Center prison in Lake Butler).

• Honor the moratorium on state executions, as a court-ordered the state to do, without the legal loophole now being used to kill prisoners on death row.

• Restore voting rights as a basic human right to all, not a privilege, regardless of criminal convictions.

More information can be found here: https://itsgoingdown.org/florida-gears-offer-solidarity-operationpush/

Call for Submissions: End of Secrets Zine

BFL will be self-publishing another zine, this time focusing on themes of incest and childhood sexual abuse. Submissions are open to any women and women aligned nonbinary survivors and there will be several writing/support groups to assist people in their submissions. You can read more about the project here

Schedule of events:
Jan. 5, 6pm : 1st Writing Group 
Feb. 23, 6pm : 2nd Writing Group
March 16, 6pm : 3rd Writing Group 
April 20, 6pm : Zine Release, Reading & Discussion

Submissions can be sent to:  bostonfeministsforliberation@gmail.com or

Boston Feminists for Liberation
549 Columbus Avenue
Boston, MA 02118

Updates!

There will be a longer update post coming down the line, but right now we have two bits of important news to share with you!


First, is regarding the Free Bresha Campaign. Bresha and her legal team were able to reach a plea deal in May, however, our fight is not over! Here is the campaign’s statement on the deal and please check out our #FreeBresha page for ways to support.

“The #FreeBresha campaign is infuriated that 15-year-old domestic violence survivor, Bresha Meadows, has been forced by Ohio prosecutors to submit to a plea deal that would keep her in juvenile detention for a full year (which includes 10 months of time served) and an additional 6 months of incarceration in a “treatment facility.”  Though an earlier version of the plea deal would have released Bresha to the “treatment facility” today, the final plea deal has increased Bresha’s time in juvenile detention for another two months. Prosecuting Bresha, including the pointless punitivity of adding time in juvenile detention, should be condemned by all who care about the well-being of children.

Bresha’s move from juvenile detention to the “treatment facility” is scheduled for July 30th.  Once transferred, this facility has the power to determine whether they will confine Bresha beyond the 6 months stated in the plea deal, opening the door to further incarceration.  Also, Bresha’s family will be forced to pay for the cost of Bresha’s “treatment” confinement, adding yet another economic burden to the family.  As we have stated, we believe that true care cannot and should not be delivered in the context of punishment.  The #FreeBresha campaign is in solidarity with Bresha Meadows and her family who have been forced to make hard choices to try to reduce further harm in a coercive context of violent prosecution and incarceration.

It is truly unconscionable that Bresha has been targeted by prosecutors for taking desperate action to survive domestic violence.  Ohio prosecutors Dennis Watkins and Stanley Elkins’ insistence on punishing Bresha for self-defense demonstrates a disgraceful lack of accountability by the state of Ohio who repeatedly failed to protect Bresha and her family, causing this horrific situation.  If a Black girl who is abused in her home does all the things adults tell children to do when faced with violence — tell an adult, report it to the police, trust family services — and, one by one, each system fails her, what exactly do prosecutors imagine she should do next?  Bresha tried to run away from the violence, but police forced her to return home.  There was nothing else left to do but be beaten and possibly killed or defend her life.  Do these prosecutors believe that it would have been a better outcome if Bresha and her family lost their lives to her abusive father?  Why must a child carry the burden of profound failure by police, prosecutors, family services, and other adults?  When will Dennis Watkins and Stanley Elkins take responsibility for blaming a child for their failures?

Yesterday, we learned details of the abuse in Bresha’s home from her cousin, Ja’Von Meadows-Harris, who stayed in Bresha’s father’s home when he was a child.  Ja’Von shared that he was also a constant target for physical violence, isolation, extreme control, and threats by her father.  Ja’Von was only 12-years-old when he witnessed Bresha’s father repeatedly punch Bresha’s mother while Bresha was a baby in her mother’s arms.  When Ja’Von tried to protect Bresha, he was also beaten and threatened.  The pattern of terror in this home was real, it was relentless, and it was inescapable.  We are so grateful to Ja’Von for sharing his story.

Finally, we want to emphasize that Bresha Meadows is just one girl of tens of thousands of girls in cages across the United States. Understanding the details of how Bresha has been treated is instructive of how the criminal punishment system is a destructive force against children, especially Black children.  As we said in our May 8th statement, the #FreeBresha campaign will continue to push for Bresha’s freedom until she is truly free. We ask all who support her to do the same.

-#FreeBresha Campaign”

free bresha
#freebresha supporters outside the courthouse


 

Second, is that BFL now has a home at Makeshift Boston! Makeshift is a wonderful coworking space dedicated to progressive causes and is now our new office space. We’ll be hosting many of our events there, such as the BFL crafting night coming up this Friday and we encourage people to check out thespace on their own time, during one of Makeshifts fantastic events such as Evan Greer’s Break the Chains or POC yoga on Wednesdays!

 

A Letter to White Boston

This was written by a BFL member who wishes to remain anonymous.

Dear Boston:

This weekend I felt heartsick and ashamed to call you my city. Not because you harbor a handful of militant white supremacists, but because you are home to thousands—probably hundreds of thousands—of well-intentioned white people who are content to denounce racism with their words while still enabling and supporting it in their everyday lives.

When I first moved to the Boston area a couple of years ago it felt like a breath of fresh air. As a white millennial and a gay woman from the South, living in Cambridge—a city that painted the crosswalks and benches in front of City Hall rainbow—felt like I’d made it to liberal heaven. Like many people here, I thought of my new home as a model of progressive values. I was proud to be a part of it. But I didn’t see the racism that pervades our (white) liberal paradise.

Boston racism is not the racism of skinheads and cross burning. Looking around the Commons yesterday, I saw few people who considered themselves white supremacists. Several dozen, maybe a hundred, turned out yesterday for the “Free Speech” rally. And make no mistake—their message of nationalism, intolerance, and racial purity is evil. But it was many of my fellow counter-protesters who left me feeling sick. Yes, there were signs that said Black Lives Matter and denounced white supremacy. But I also saw counter-protesters with signs that in bright, friendly pastels, claimed “All Lives Matter” and “Be colorblind!” and “We are all one race—human.” And I know that they and many other counter-protestors probably went home congratulating themselves on fighting the good fight and keeping racism out of our city.

But even if you “don’t see color,” racism in Boston is as alive as ever. Sure, we can recognize it easily in faces of self-proclaimed neo-Nazis. But what about in the segregation dividing our neighborhoods along racial lines, or the profound income inequality between white and nonwhite Bostonians? According to a 2015 report, white households in Boston have a median net worth of nearly $250,000, compared to $8 for U.S.-born black households about $3,000 for most Hispanics. Census data from 2010 provides a clear map of the racial divide in our city, which placed in the top handful of the most segregated metropolis areas in the nation. We demonstrated this weekend that we can spot the bigotry of militant white supremacists, but do we recognize the racism lurking in our policing and criminal justice system? In our own unacknowledged, subconscious biases?

It’s easy to spend a Saturday afternoon going to a protest in the park. It’s much harder to actually put in the effort to fight the racism entrenched in our city, our country, and ourselves.

I’m afraid that the message we, the well-intentioned white people of Boston, take away from yesterday will be one of victory. I sincerely hope I’m wrong and that instead we take yesterday’s events as a bit of inspiration in the long, difficult battle to dismantle white supremacy. If you agree and are looking for a place to start, I have two suggestions:

Give what you can—money, time, and labor—to groups like Black Lives Matter (national and especially local chapters) that are fighting back against institutionalized racism.

Educate yourself. Then educate others. Read books. Read blogs. Watch documentaries. Do some self-examining. Working to unravel my own ignorance is one of the hardest and most important things I’ve done—frankly, I’m still doing it. There are a million incredible resources out there, but a few I’d recommend are:

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander

Between the World and Me, by Ta-nehisi Coates

Killing the Black Body, by Dorothy E. Roberts

Black Girls Matter, a report by the AAPF and Columbia Law School

Thirteenth, a documentary by Ava DuVernay (on Netflix)

Getting Brave

Imagine having a secret. A secret belief, a secret interest, a source of so much shame that you couldn’t even admit it to yourself. Then one day you meet other people with the same secret. The shame doesn’t go away, but you look at yourself differently. You carry yourself differently, you know you are no longer alone. You feel just a bit braver in the world.

You talk to your new friends and together, you work through that shame and fear. Resentment grows, anger ignites, and you start to feel that push to do something. Your group decides it’s worth the risk and you take your secret to the public. Most scorn you, some laugh but it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you found just a few more people with your secret, your group learns and bonds and knows what to do better next time. You end the day feeling just a little bit braver in the world.

Your group keeps meeting and pushing and rallying and eventually something gives and your secret isn’t a secret anymore, but just a normal facet of society.  There is no any shame and you don’t feel brave because there is no longer anything to be afraid of.

————————————————————————————————————————————

This is how movements work. Power is created through people finding like minds and drawing strength from each other. Power is destroyed by keeping like minds isolated and ashamed.

Fascists are not exempt from this. The very act of a public gathering allows them to meet others like them, build networks and relationships, and find strength in each other. This is why it is imperative to prevent fascist gatherings from occurring, however, we can. This is why student activists fight for no platform and why anti-fascists activists will resort to physical force. The threat of a fascist rally isn’t just the hate coming from their mouths, but the infrastructure and relationships born out of activism and public struggle.  They know this, its why they are fighting so hard for a public forum. They know they have enough power to reveal their secret, they know they have enough power to build even while facing public scorn. Debates about free speech ignore the most basic realities of movement building, that strength is built through struggle. Every second we allow them to gather gives them more power to realize their end goals of genocide, subjugation, and ethnic cleansing

Those horrors are the future unless we use every resource we have to prevent them from gathering. It really is that simple.