Guest post: How the shutdown affects my family, by Amanda Hernandez

[Ed. note: I met Amanda during this summer’s protests against HB2. Amanda is a Democratic activist. She’s also a struggling mother of two, newly married, whose family is endangered by the shutdown. Austin NOW is nonpartisan. But we share Amanda’s outrage at all the members of Congress who made this happen. – Carrie]

The government shut down affects my family: My husband and I work in health care, and thanks to no unions, right to work, and whatever other greed protection power in place, even with both of us working we could not break the living wage mark ($23/and hour – that’s BOTH of our pay combined). Before 2008 I could make a living wage; the cost of child care and healthcare was too expensive, I was losing money with both of us working, so I have opted to stay home. EVEN with staying home, we still don’t break even enough to make all the bills barely, we live pay-check-to-pay-check.

My WIC is supposed to no longer be available, it is said that the cuts mean WIC will no longer be making payments as of today. I rely on those few food, milk, fruit, and other items to feed my 4 and 2 year old. I’m going to see if I can get it today. It really is going to hurt if we don’t have the WIC.

After I pay rent today I don’t know what were going to do. And I’m tired of asking family who are already hurting themselves, and don’t know how they will retire because they keep stretching themselves out all over to help also.

I was going to apply for help with food (SNAP/food stamps) because I checked the numbers, and we qualify. I was going to apply for help with power bill, ect., bills, welfare. But I find out that the power assistance program and TANF (the welfare checks to assist families in need) were part of the shut down. I don’t even know if I can apply for assistance because no one is answering at the office, and I could drive to the office, but I have to save gas for my husband to get to work and back-work where he is NOT paid enough for the hard sweating, running, caring for critical patients.

I think we qualify for health coverage, but that doesn’t kick in till January. We’ve been without healthcare for almost a year now because it costs one paycheck a month to cover all of us.

We make it, we survive, we scrape by. We manage to go without and keep the bare minimum, living in cheap apartments where we are at times scared for our safety. We wonder if we’ll have enough to make rent or leftover for all the things we need for 2 small children and ourselves.

I can’t help thinking of the many, many people who don’t have just enough to get by like we do: the people who need their pension, their TANF (welfare check), their WIC, Disability checks, and their kids in Head Start, students trying to make it through college… all these things mean their very lives. They don’t know where their next meal is coming from. They don’t know how they are going to make it without these programs. And my heart breaks for them. I wish I had more money,  ability, and power to help them, so they wouldn’t be hurting or in need as they are now thanks to these cuts.

I’m stressed out for me, and my family. But I also think of those doing far worse than I am. And I want to know, what can we do to stop this madness?

I know I’m organizing and working hard to turn out the vote to get rid of republicans, as a Democratic precinct chair. But I want to know what can we do RIGHT NOW, that will help turn this over. I want to know what we are doing to help those affected the most. I know I’m talking about it, and signing petitions, and contacting representatives. But I want to riot, I want to open shelters, and food kitchens, and homes. And since I can’t do any of those things, what with no money, and 2 small children to tend to, will someone please tell me WHAT CAN WE DO RIGHT NOW?

Posted in Calls to Action, Economic security, Everything is a feminist issue, National issues | Leave a comment

10 things I’ve learned on my journey as an anti-racist ally

Monday there was a really great panel here in Austin about the impacts of HB2. Along with the folks usually represented at such events – Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas, and Lilith Fund – I was especially glad to see my colleagues Christian from the YWCA of Greater Austin and Paula Rojas from Mama Sana included. They addressed race and racism in ways that we as a feminist community have not talked about enough this summer.

I understand that Paula in particular experienced pushback from some white folks who weren’t used to hearing about racism or being asked hard questions like the ones she asked – for example, why there’s less public outrage about Latinas being four times less likely to have access to health care and Black babies being three times as likely to die as there is about abortion access in Texas.

My intention here is not to speak for Paula or Christian. I’m white, and it is not my job to speak for women of color. As Christian and Paula quite conclusively showed on Monday, they are more than capable of speaking powerfully and beautifully for themselves.

My intention here is to stand with them. What I can do as an ally is to offer to white folks who had trouble dealing with what was said about race on Monday some of things I’ve learned as I’ve worked and continue to work to be an intersectional feminist.

Many things I say here may sound harsh. I say them with love – the muscular, difficult love described by M. Scott Peck and bell hooks: the commitment to another’s spiritual growth. Being an anti-racist ally is hard work. But if I’m going to go around calling myself a feminist, it’s work I have to do. As Audre Lorde said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.”

Here are 10 things I have learned on my ally journey, things I remind myself of all the time. When I say, “you,” keep in mind that it’s a general case you addressed to white folks – and that I’m also talking to myself here. Because I’m not perfect, I’m still learning, and I’m still trying to do better.

1. De-center yourself. This is often really hard for people with privilege. We are so used to that one-up position. We spend our whole lives in it. The world is set up for us, to make us comfortable, to make things easier for us. Well, y’all, if we want to make a different world, one where everyone’s human rights are respected and difference is valued, we are going to have to change that. Stop placing yourself at the center of the world, at the center of any discussion. Most things in the world are, in fact, not about you. So check your ego along with your privilege. Learn to step out of the spotlight and focus on others.

2. Be quiet and listen. If you want to understand racism, you need to listen to the voices of people of color. Read their books, articles, blogs, Tumblrs, Twitter feeds. Listen to their music, their podcasts, their panel discussions. As Mikki Kendall (@karnythia) writes in her fantastic recent XOJane piece, “Not to rebut, or chime in, or do anything else but hear and understand what is being said, blogged, tweeted, etc. Just listen.” Practice listening without responding. Sometimes the best thing we can do for someone who has faced the pain of oppression is witness it with compassion.

3. Assume that people of color are telling the truth. I hate that I have to write this, but I do. I’ve seen it happen over and over again that white people, confronted with the ugly realities of racism, react with denial – even when what’s happening is that a person of color is standing in front of them saying, this is my life, this is what my family, friends, colleagues, and I face every single day of our lives. I have learned in many feminist trainings and discussions that it’s vital to acknowledge that everyone is the expert on their experience. Many of us have no trouble accepting this when it comes to sexual assault survivors or women who’ve been harassed at work, but lots of us white folks have serious trouble with this when it comes to racism. Just because you have never seen something happen or don’t know about it doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

4. Take in what you hear and allow it to change you. What you will hear will be painful. It will be hard to hear that people you know and love commit large and small acts of racism that hurt people of color. It will be hard to hear about how much pain and injustice white people inflict on people of color. It will be hard to hear the truth about the United States’ bloody history that was whitewashed or ignored in your history classes: draft riots, race riots, white women blaming and punishing Black women slaves for ‘tempting’ white male slave owners into raping them, white people blowing up Black homes and churches, white women sexually scapegoating Black men who are beaten or killed because of it, white people treating lynchings like social occasions, the horrible injustice of the US government simultaneously interning Japanese American families and drafting their men, the brutal murders of civil rights workers, people of color spat on for daring to go to predominantly white schools…

And then there are all the racist abuses that continue today, like redlining, the school-to-prison pipeline, discrimination in employment, police violence against people of color, companies that knowingly expose Latin@/Chican@ workers to dangerous chemicals and refuse to improve working conditions…

The litany of horrors never seems to end. It will change the way you think about this country, yourself, and everyone you know. It will change you. And it should. Learning the truth is the only way you begin to glimpse the scope of the problem and thus understand what we need to do to create healing and social change.

5. Do not make your feelings people of color’s problem. I have had some big, overwhelming, awful feelings as I have learned about racism. I’ve felt rage, sorrow, guilt, grief, astonishment, disgust, horror. Those are all tough to deal with and they deserve attention. They deserve my attention, and I’m glad to have trusted friends who will listen and talk through them with me. You know what neither I nor these feelings deserve? The attention of people of color. If someone shares their experience of racism with me, what they deserve from me is my full attention, my compassion, and my gratitude for their trust and the opportunity to learn. But it is not even a little bit their job to help me with my feelings. They’re the ones who have been oppressed and discriminated against, not me! They’ve got enough to deal with.

6. Take care of yourself. The truth about racism is overwhelming, and the feelings can be, too. It’s okay to acknowledge your limits. It’s okay to put in the bookmark or close the tab, say you’re done for the day, and go hug your partner. It’s okay to talk to other allies and ask how they handle their feelings. But do also take a moment to remember that you can put aside thinking about racism for a few hours. People of color can’t.

7. Honor the anger of people of color. People of color are often angry when talking about racism. They sometimes talk shit about white people. This should not be a surprise. They’ve got a lot to be angry about! Unless they’re angry at you, personally, for something you did, don’t take it personally. Don’t get defensive. Just witness it. Sit with it. Resist the urge to say you’re not like that. I tell myself that their baseline suspicion of white people is kind of like my baseline suspicion of men as a multiple sexual assault survivor: it is a completely understandable learned response that helps them stay safe.

8. Accept that you will make mistakes. Take responsibility and commit to learning from them. I think one of the barriers that keeps white people from doing anti-racist work is fear: fear of screwing up, being called out, being embarrassed. Well, y’all, let me save you the suspense: you will screw up. You’re human, you’re not perfect, and sometimes you will just fall flat on your face. Sometimes it will be embarrassing. I have screwed up. I have been embarrassed. But you know what? It’s not the end of the world. Feelings aren’t fatal. Keep in mind that we are trying to do something incredibly hard! We grew up in a racist culture. We have been soaking up racism and white supremacy in overt and subtle ways our whole lives. We are trying to name it, find it, rip it out by the root, and change the way we think, speak, and act. That’s a lifetime journey. It won’t ever end. You’ll get up tomorrow and keep going.

The key thing here: when you mess up as an ally, you’ve probably hurt someone. Take responsibility and apologize. And unless the person you hurt is a friend or colleague that you have a personal relationship with and that person is willing to talk through with you what you did wrong, do NOT ask them to educate you. That’s not their job.

9. Take the responsibility to educate yourself. Do you dislike being asked to be the Official Lady or Queer or Person With Disabilities in your office, college class, book group? Me, too. It’s dehumanizing. It’s asking people to talk calmly and somewhat theoretically about all the ways the world kicks them in the teeth. That’s not okay. So don’t ask people of color in your life to be your go-to on race and racism. There are books, blogs, podcasts, pamphlets, trainings, nonprofit organizations…. a million resources are available to help you. Take advantage of those, not of other people. A few places to start: the NOW Combating Racism Committee’s anti-racist feminist resource list, Frances Kendall’s piece on how to be an ally for people of privilege, this Southern Poverty Law Center roundtable discussion on how white people can be allies.

10. Learn to count higher than two. When we talk about race in the US, we often only talk about Black people and white people. That’s wrong. It erases so much difference, so much complexity, and the experiences of so many people.

Here in Texas, we really need to talk about how Latin@/Chican@ folks who live on the Texas border suffer unbelievable violence as the result of the US government’s racist so-called “war on drugs,” how hundreds of women have been sexually assaulted and killed in Juarez with no justice in sight, how Latin@s are disproportionately impacted by cuts to state family planning funding and restrictions on abortion, and a whole host of other things.

We need to talk about Native American folks and how the legacy of westward expansion, genocide both literal and cultural, and the theft of their ancestral lands is still damaging those folks and their communities today. We need to talk about how Native American women face the highest rates of sexual violence of any ethnic group – and that the vast majority of that violence is committed by white people.

We need to talk about how Asian Americans on the west coast were subjected to racist segregation and violence as well as immigration quotas that broke up their families. We need to talk about how the “model minority” stereotypes erase the racism that Asian Americans still experience today. We need to talk about how the category of “Asian American” is not monolithic; it encompasses people of a wide range of ethnicities and national origins, and each of those groups has unique challenges.

We need to talk about how native Hawai’an people watch their sacred sites desecrated by tourists and often can’t afford to live in their home islands because rich white people seeking pretty scenery have driven up the cost of living.

We need to talk about multiracial folks, such as Afro-Latin@s, Black Native Americans, creole folks, and many more, and their unique experiences.

We need to talk about a whole bunch of different kinds of folks and how racism impacts them.

 

So that’s my list. Other allies, what is your process and practice like? Please feel free to share in the comments!

Posted in Being an ally, Everything is a feminist issue, Race | Leave a comment

Recommended reading for 50th anniversary of March on Washington

50 years ago today, thousands of people made history as they filled the national Mall for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. The date was chosen because it marked the anniversary of the abduction and brutal murder of Emmett Till, who was targeted because he was a young Black man who whistled at a white woman.

They marched for racial and economic justice. They marched for basic human rights. And they changed this country.

50 years later, we have unquestionably made vital progress. President Barack Obama, the first Black person to hold that title, gave a wonderful and moving speech today (well, mostly – see this smart criticism) commemorating the March and asking us to find our empathy, listen to each other, and continue the fight for justice for all.

As the President said, there is so much more to do. So many folks have been doing some great writing in the last several days about the march and the fight for justice and human rights. Here are some of my favorites, plus a classic piece by Dr. King:

 

 

 

 

That’s what I’ve been reading. How about y’all?

Posted in Awe-inspiring, Being an ally, Everything is a feminist issue, Hope, Poverty, Race | Leave a comment

ACTION ITEM: urge DSHS to put Texans’ health first in implementing HB2

Time to dig out the orange t-shirts! There are two opportunities to speak out for reproductive justice in Texas this week.

HB2 is law now. We can’t change that. However! The Department of State Health Services is responsible for implementing a lot of the details of HB2 and they have some flexibility in how stringent they’re going to be. And they are taking public comment! So that’s a chance for us to stick our activist crowbar in and move them a liiiiiittle bit in the right direction.

WHEN:

  • Wednesday, August 28 at 1PM – State Heath Services Council Work Session
  • Thursday, August 29 at 9AM – State Health Services Council Meeting

WHERE: Department of State Health Services, 4900 N Lamar Blvd – Brown-Heatly Building, Public Hearing Room. It’s a big complex and kind of confusing, so do get there early if you can. Expect parking to be kind of a pain.

Jessica Luther has a great post with the details of what to expect, how to sign up to comment, etc, on her blog.

“But,” you might be asking, “I’ve only got two minutes to talk, and DSHS is in charge of the very detailed, inside-baseball minutiae of medical regulation. I’m not a doctor. What can an average person say that will make a difference?”

Excellent question! What I offer here is:

1) general tips on how to be effective and

2) the text of the testimony I plan to give, based on my conversations with other advocates about what will be most useful. Please feel free to use my testimony as a jumping-off point.

TIPS ON HOW TO GIVE EFFECTIVE TESTIMONY

  • Write it down. If you are not an amazing, genius impromptu public speaker like @VictorianPrude – and I’m darn sure not – I highly recommend writing out what you want to say in advance. Even if you remember most of what you want to say, it’s always nice to have backup.
  • Decide on a few key points you want to make and stick to those. Remember, you only have two minutes to speak. What do you most want to say? Consider brainstorming a list of the points you want to make, and choosing two or three to prioritize. Then write out your testimony based on those.
  • Be concise. Two minutes goes by quickly! The rule of thumb is that a page of typed, double-spaced text takes about two minutes to read. You can fit more in if you read faster, but then you run the risk of not being understood or losing impact. When I was writing mine, I set a goal of no more than 1.25 pages of text.
  • Make it personal. DSHS folks hear from a lot of experts. One important thing we as grassroots activists can bring to the table is our personal stories about the real-life impact of policies on us and our communities. Did your local clinic cut its hours or close? Did your sister, niece, or bestie have to miss work and travel 300 miles to get an abortion or a well-woman exam? Tell DSHS about it! Remember, though, that it’s always a good idea to get permission before sharing someone else’s story.
  • Practice, practice, practice. Meetings like this can feel really stressful! A packed room, the opposition out in force, a bunch of white people in suits staring down at you from the dais… It can feel overwhelming. So if you want to sound clear, calm, and convincing, it’s a good idea to practice reading your testimony out loud a few times. It can feel a little silly, but it really helps. My cats have heard a lot about reproductive justice this summer, y’all.
  • Ask for feedback. If you’ve got a partner or roommate, ask them if they’ll listen to you read your testimony and then let you know what they think. Or call a protest buddy and see if they’ll do so!
  • Time yourself. As we all saw at the Capitol, especially when meetings are crowded and they expect a lot of speakers, the staff tends to enforce the time limits pretty strictly. Time your comments to make sure you get to say everything you want.

Got some tips from your experience at the Capitol this summer? Please feel free to share in the comments.

WHAT I PLAN TO SAY: Continue reading

Posted in Abortion, Body politics, Calls to Action, Politics, Reproductive Justice | Leave a comment

Outrage of the Day: Perry vetoed equal pay bill after retailers asked

Sign that says, Equal work deserves equal payIt was bad enough that Gov. Perry vetoed HB 950, the state-level Lilly Ledbetter Act. This was a really smart, relatively simple bill filed by Rep. Senfronia Thompson in the House and Sen. Wendy Davis in the Senate. It does two basic things: 1) It allows employment discrimination claims to be filed in state court. 2) It resets the statue of limitations every time an employee receives a paycheck based on the discriminatory pay rate.

What does that mean? Here’s the deal: a statue of limitations is the deadline by which a legal action must be taken. Remember your Law and Order, kids: the government only has a certain amount of time after the commission of an act to file charges. It’s the same in civil court. Except there’s a problem when you’re talking about pay discrimination: the employee probably wasn’t in the meeting where the pay decision got made and they probably don’t know when it happened. And employers do tend to get cranky when people ask these things or even share information about salaries.

So how is an employee to know when the pay decision was made or if it was discriminatory? Seems a bit unfair to hold them responsible for knowing information they were probably specifically prevented from obtaining, doesn’t it? And doesn’t the employer have the chance to fix the situation and stop discriminating every time they issue a paycheck – in other words, isn’t the discrimination ongoing? I think so. Congress thought so, too, which is why they passed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009.

Thanks to Patricia Kilday Hart’s piece in today’s Houston Chronicle, now we have a better sense for why the Governor vetoed it. Continue reading

Posted in Economic security, Money, Politics, Righteous anger | Leave a comment

Take action for reproductive justice in Texas – handout

Here’s the text of the handout from Thursday’s meeting, cleaned up a bit for the web. You can also download the handout as a pdf! Click here – 7-18-13 Action Abortion Repro J

Take Action for Reproductive Justice in Texas!

Educate yourself about the reproductive justice framework. The theory of reproductive justice was crafted by women of color to be a human rights-based, intersectional approach that includes the right to have children, not have children, and to parent the children we have in safe and healthy environments. Some resources to learn more:

Join, volunteer with, or give to (if you can) these folks:

Take grassroots action. If protesting is more your speed than writing letters to the editor, check out Rise Up Texas/Levanta Tejas! They’re on the web at http://RiseUpTX.org, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/RiseUpTX/, and on Twitter as @RiseUpTX.

Work to end abortion stigma. The antis frequently shame women who have had abortions and use that shame politically to pass laws restricting the more uncomfortable forms of abortion care, like late-term abortions. There is nothing shameful about abortion. Talk about abortion. If you’ve had an abortion and are comfortable sharing your story, share it – talk about it, blog about it, Facebook about it. Let others know you are a safe and supportive person to talk to.

Stay connected to feminist and reproductive justice communities. If you’re on Facebook, follow/Like the groups above, plus the Feminist Justice League and #atxfem.

If you’re on Twitter, here are some folks to follow: @feministleague, @scatx, @andreagrimes, @lilithfund, @TEAfund, @TX_women, @unrulymobTX, @naraltx, @SocialWorkersRJ, @DrJaneChi, @robinmarty, @rhrealitycheck, @PPGreaterTX, @feministtexican, @WholeWomans, @Fem2pt0, @shelbyknox, @alexisjkostun, @nancycardenas91

Get registered and vote. Did you know that Texas has the lowest voter turnout in the whole country? And that less than half of Texas women under 35 who were eligible to do so voted in 2012? Bills like HB 2 will continue to pass unless we change who’s making the decisions! That means registering to vote and then voting for candidates who support reproductive justice.

How to register: Texas is old-school – you have to fill out a paper form and mail it or take it in person to your county registrar (typically the county Tax Assessor-Collector) at least 30 days before the election date. Here in the Austin area, voter registration cards are available at libraries, DPS offices, post offices, and all Travis County tax offices. See http://www.traviscountytax.org/ for more information.

ABOUT VOTER ID: As of right now, with few exceptions (see VoteTexas.gov for more info), Texas requires valid or under 60 days past expiration government-issued photo ID to vote. That may change, but for now, the Texas Secretary of State says you have to show one of the following:

  • Texas driver license issued by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS)
  • Texas Election Identification Certificate issued by DPS
  • Texas personal identification card issued by DPS
  • Texas concealed handgun license issued by DPS
  • United States military identification card containing the person’s photograph
  • United States citizenship certificate containing the person’s photograph
  • United States passport

Make sure your registration is current. If you change your name or address, you must update your voter registration at least 30 days before the election date. If you moved within the same county, you can update your address online (link is for Travis County) and a new voter registration card will be mailed to you at the new address. About name changes, from the Secretary of State: “If the name does not match exactly but is “substantially similar” to the name on the OLRV, the voter will be permitted to vote as long as the voter signs an affidavit stating that the voter is the same person on the list of registered voters.”

Help others register to vote. Become a Volunteer Deputy Registrar! It just takes a one-hour training which is good for two years, ending 12/31 of the next even-numbered year. Travis County offers the training on the first Tuesday of every month at 10:30AM, 12:30PM, and 6:30PM at the Travis County Voter Registrar’s Office at 5501 Airport. To qualify, you must: be a US citizen; be at least 18 years of age; not have been declared mentally incompetent; not be a convicted felon; and not have been convicted of identity theft. See the Travis County Tax page on becoming a Volunteer Deputy Registrar for more info.

Get people to the polls! Got pro-choice Republican friends? Ask them to be sure and vote their pro-choice values in the March 4, 2014 primary. Remind them and everyone else you know who’s registered to vote for reproductive justice in November 2014!

Posted in Abortion, Body politics, Calls to Action, Everything is a feminist issue, Politics, Reproductive Justice | Leave a comment

Link roundup: reading recs for white feminists this week

Fellow white feminists – our Black sisters are asking where we are this week. To be sure, some of us have spoken up about the injustice of the verdict in the Trayvon Martin case. For example, NOW called on the Department of Justice to continue investigating. But many of us haven’t.

If you don’t know enough about the case, or for some reason you don’t think the whole things stinks, I ask you to read the following:

Katy Otto at Feministing on white womanhood, protectionism, and complicity

Dr. Philip Cohen at Sociological Images on who’s afraid of young Black men

Isobel de Brujah at xoJane about why people of color aren’t surprised by the Zimmerman verdict

Dr. Eric Grollman on families of color, parenting, and racial discrimination

Jes on juror b37 and the racist complicity of white womanhood

Jamila Aisha Brown at the Guardian on why we probably wouldn’t know Trayvon’s name if he’d been a Black woman

Jason Silverstein at Slate on how our failure to empathize with people of color perpetuates racism

Brittney Cooper at the Crunk Feminist Collective’s Black feminist take on the verdict

Annie-Rose Strasser at ThinkProgress on three self-defense cases that went the other way - all with Black defendants

Dr. Lisa Wade at Sociological Images on how “Stand Your Ground” increases racial bias in justifiable homicide trials

Edward Wycoff Williams at Salon on how our real problem is white rage

 

Posted in Being an ally, Everything is a feminist issue, Race, Violence | Leave a comment

Some reasons #JusticeForTrayvon is a feminist issue

  1. Because our Black sisters tell us it is.
  2. Because this is a reproductive justice issue. How? Because our Black sisters tell us that they fear for their children. Because, as I’ve seen over and over on my Facebook and Twitter timelines, many of our Black sisters are afraid to bear children because they know that this could happen to their babies anytime, anywhere in this country.
  3. Because here in Texas, where HB2 just passed, I keep seeing my Black sisters and trans* friends say something like this: “This week has basically taught me that I have no right to exist & can’t expect any protection from the same body I’m subject to.”
  4. Because the way “Stand Your Ground” and self-defense laws play out in real life is deeply racist, sexist, and queerphobic. Also in Florida, Marissa Alexander, who is Black, was sentenced to 20 years in jail for firing warning shots trying to stop her abuser from hurting her again. She already had a restraining order against him. In Minnesota, CeCe McDonald, who is a Black transwoman, was sentenced to over 3 years in jail for defending herself against racist, queerphobic violence.
  5. Because the jurors in this case were six white women. It is white women who are responsible for this verdict.
  6. Because, as Flavia Dzodan wrote, our feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullsh*t. We will stand with ALL our sisters or we will fail to be practicing a feminism that is about ALL women.

Recommended reading:

The NOW Combating Racism Committee’s resource list. I worked with many sisters of color and allies to make this list.

If you read only one book, I suggest Audre Lorde’s Sister Outsider. It’s not academic. It’s written in beautiful, evocative, everyday language. It contains the essay, “Age, Race, Class, and Sex: Women Redefining Difference,” from which the following quotation comes:

Some problems we share as women, some we do not. You [white women] fear your children will grow up to join the patriarchy and testify against you; we fear our children will be dragged from a car and shot down in the street, and you will turn your backs on the reasons they are dying.

That’s why.

Posted in Being an ally, Body politics, Everything is a feminist issue, Race, Reproductive Justice, Violence | Leave a comment

So what’s next?

NOW logo on orange texas, with text, "We won't back down"

Not now. Not ever. We will remember. We will keep fighting.

I want to thank each and every person who did their best for reproductive justice in Texas over the last few weeks. I am so proud to be part of this community and proud to fight alongside all of you.

I know it was hard, tiring, and infuriating. I know it’s really hard that we lost. Here are some things you can do in the coming days:

Give yourself time to mourn. This was a big loss. A lot of people will suffer because of this law. That’s heartbreaking. It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be sad.

Give yourself time to rest. This was a long, hard fight. There were a lot of incredible moments. I will remember for the rest of my life the ROAR that filled the building after Sen. Leticia Van de Putte asked her now-famous question about what a female senator must do to be heard. I will remember the fierce joy of watching all the incredible legislators who fought for us stand strong for science, for privacy, for autonomy. I will remember standing in the rotunda, bursting out laughing and crying at the same time when Cecile Richards told us, “SB 5 IS DEAD.”

And I will also remember for the rest of my life the sheer fury of watching the bill’s supporters stumble over the most basic questions about women’s health, of watching in disbelief as exceptions for rape and incest got voted down in landslides, of hearing a sitting Texas Senator say that mental health doesn’t count as health.

There were some very high highs and some very low lows. That’s emotionally exhausting. It takes time to recover. Take a few days. Breathe. Eat healthy food again. Sleep in. Take care of yourselves and each other.

At the same time, acknowledge what we accomplished. What we accomplished was pretty incredible! We killed the bill. Remember that they only won because they cheated. We made this a national story. We inspired people from all over the country, all over the world! And they inspired us, too, fueling us with pizza, sandwiches, cookies, coffee, and the knowledge that we weren’t alone in this fight, that they were with us. We made amazing things happen! Be proud of that!

REMEMBER: This is not the end. This is the end of one battle. The war continues. And we have to keep fighting together.

When you’re ready, take some action. Here are some things you can do:
Continue reading

Posted in Abortion, Body politics, Politics, Reproductive Justice, Righteous anger | 1 Comment

How to send food to the #FeministArmy today

Hey, Internet, feed us, please!

Here’s what we need: pizza, sandwiches, and drinks. Cookies are nice, too! All of these things are easy to pass out to people in line to get into the gallery.

Here are local businesses that deliver to the Capitol (and please tip the driver well, because it’s a pain to deliver food to the Capitol):

Here’s where/to whom you send stuff:

Carrie Tilton-Jones, Texas Capitol, 1100 Congress, Room 1N.8, Austin, TX, 78701. If they need a phone number, email info@nowaustin.org and I’ll get you one.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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