Celebrating Women’s History Doesn’t Have to Look Exclusively White

 

By Chemay Morales-James

Growing up, I never felt completely connected with identifying as a feminist.  It wasn’t because I was oblivious to the continued misogyny and social inequities me and my girls continued to experience on a daily, but when women’s rights were brought up in high school and college, they almost never included the voices of women of color nor was there any acknowledgement of the racist, patriarchal division that was ironically upheld by White women during the suffrage and other movements.  In fact, the recent Women’s March on Washington received much criticism from Black & Brown activists in how it initially left out women of color and was protected by law enforcement during the mass protests, which is a stark contrast to the militarized police that often make themselves present during protests lead by Black and Brown communities.

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Decolonizing Education Conference

My former colleagues at NYU are hosting a fabulous conference that anyone who is in the business of raising liberated young minds must attend! If you are a teacher or home educator (like myself) who has taken the first step of disrupting oppressive practices that have been passed down to you but still struggle figuring out what new actions you can take in replace of old habits, then this conference is for you. In order to provide a decolonized education for our children, we must decolonize our minds first!

Want to know how students imagine what decolonizing education looks like?  Don’t forget to check out the creative artwork that will be on display at the Decolonizing Ed. Conference by New York City high schoolers.

Register For This Event!

Intersectional Feminism in the Classroom

On both January 21st and 22nd of this year, three women organized the country’s largest political demonstration, drawing in nearly half a million Americans to The Women’s March on Washington and over 3 million nationally. These women – Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez – sought to amplify the voices of all those who find themselves at the mercy of patriarchy’s clenched fists. In addition to the typically advertised causes of feminism including reproductive rights and the gender wage gap, protesters rose signs calling attention to police brutality against black bodies, waved rainbow flags in support of LGBT identifying folks, and called out against the Dakota Access Pipeline. This was a demonstration of third wave feminism. This was intersectional. And despite the valid intra-community criticisms against the actual execution of the Women’s March, I ask what we as educators can take away from this major event and how can we bring what we learned into the classroom?

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Beyond Diversity 101

My experience in Beyond Diversity 101 was spiritually transformational. In the social justice world we can often spend too much time in our minds over intellectualizing everything that comes at us, perhaps, to prove how “woke” or more “conscious” we are over the next person. When we do this, we forget that equity work is heart work and in order to engage in transformational change, we must be willing and able to fully put forth our mind, body, and spirit into what it is we signed up to do–which is to put to death the cycle of genocide against those of us that don’t fit the “American standard”. A horrific cycle our country was built on and continues to function under today.  If you are looking to experience an in-depth training on what it means to be an agent of change, you need to check out BD101.

What Does it Mean to Be a Woke Consumer During the Holidays?

What does it mean to be a critically, conscious, woke “consumer” in 2016? Ok, so let’s start here, if you consider yourself critically conscious and woke then you really can’t consider yourself a consumer.

A few years back I began celebrating Kwanzaa. As an Afro Caribbean woman steeped in European Christianity, my family gave me a serious side eye about this made up “Black American Holiday.” But among the many reasons why I began to celebrate Kwanzaa, the most salient point for me was because of its movement from consumerism to creationism.

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When you celebrate Kwanzaa the goal of gift giving is to ensure the positive, racial Identity development of Diasporic children. Unlike my experience with Christmas, which was just about giving and getting gifts that you’ve always wanted and couldn’t afford, Kwanzaa is about the thoughtful selection and connection to the seven principles we are to celebrate.

You would have to live under a rock to not recognize the social political context of our current world. We have a racist fascist as President Elect, an extremely conservative Republican Congress and executive branch, and the possibility of a judicial branch to follow suit.

So what are we to do, as critically conscious, woke, folk?

We are to put our money–aka our consumerism–where our mouth, values, beliefs and liberation is.

At my blog, creadnyc.org, we talked about the role economic protest plays in our liberation. And we have many calls for protest. The #notonedime boycott, the #injusticeboycott and the #BoycottTrump app. All of these initiatives are about realizing our economic power in order to wield it for our common liberation.

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But, don’t fret.  I’m not saying you can’t spend a dime this holiday season, or in general. What I am saying is that what you choose to spend your money on and where you choose to spend your money matters. It matters for your family’s access to generational wealth and it matters with regards to this country understanding that Black and Brown bodies, and other marginalized groups, that are being strangled under the boot of White supremacy, consumerism and state violence will no longer be tolerated and accepted.

Here’s what I urge: when you spend your money, you do what My Reflection Matters has been encouraging us to do, which is to consume products that serve and support positive racial identity for all of us, while at the same time supporting many businesses owned by People of Color (POC). And because the internet is most wonderous and full of POC magic, here are just a few links to support your woke consumerism:

But, wait! I have another suggestion this holiday season, which I know is closing in quickly.  Provide, for the children in your life, experiences that allow them to see the humanity of people who look like them. How can we instill in our children the desire to serve? How can we instill in our children the ability to create versus only consuming? Now, I’m not the most creative person in the world, but every Kwanzaa, I commit to making one gift for my loved ones. If you don’t already, see if this year you can take this tiny shift from consumerism towards creationism. Make food, drinks, snacks with your kids and give them away. Make Kwanzaa bags for homeless people, people in shelters, visit nursing homes and deliver a little Kwanzaa joy. Have your kids put on a show, or simply explain why it’s important to celebrate Kwanzaa. Provide opportunities for the babies to talk about the power of economic boycott and cooperative economics.

We don’t know what lies ahead for our government and ourselves, but we do know the power we hold. This power starts in our pockets and in the minds of our children–and how we engage them in the creation of our wealth and the strategic use of our wealth.  Being woke is more than just having knowledge, it’s about using that knowledge to build for our children and our collective liberation.

Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in United States History and Life

Today’s #mrmbookfave is very fitting given the events this week. I attended my first Undoing Racism workshop lead by, author,  Rev. David Billings a decade ago. If you haven’t experienced this powerful workshop, you are missing out on a valuable learning experience! Check out People’s Institute for Survival & Beyond for more information and David’s recent book, Deep Denial: The Persistence of White Supremacy in Unites States History and Life!