“There’s a Chinese saying, ‘women hold up half of the world’. In the case of the civil rights movement it’s probably three-quarters of the world.” - Julian Bond
I love that March is Women’s History Month. To me, it’s the perfect extension of Black History Month in February because Women’s History Month allows us to shine a spotlight on the women who were movers and shakers in Black History. When discussing history, we tend to pay attention only to the great men, and forget the great women and the great number of relentless individuals dedicating their lives to a cause greater than self. Great figures are necessary for movements because they are the rallying voice of millions and can channel the energy of many into a singular persuasive argument that those resisting the relinquishing of power can react to and interact with. But social movements do not happen because of singular individuals. Revolutions require solidarity and a vast support network. The real power of social change lies in the strength of grassroots organization. It requires the people who march en masse, those who bring food to people standing in line to register to vote, organizers for carpool rides so that a bus boycott can continue indefinitely, and behind the scenes volunteers that are the backbone of social justice organizations.
During months like February and March designed to celebrate “radical” history, I remember the leadership and strength it takes to be the face of a movement, but also the amount of commitment it requires from ordinary individuals who simply want to live their lives free from oppression. During these months, I remember the women whose hard work throughout history has often gone unnoticed. I remember the women like Ella Baker, Fanny Lou Hamer, and Diane Nash whose commitment to grassroots organizing and community programs paved the way for future generations, as well as all of those men and women who carried the weight of the civil rights movement on their shoulders unnamed. I remember groups like SNCC and the BPP that went to communities to serve them, who provided services and risked their lives without waiting for permission, and exemplified the idea of participatory democracy.
It doesn’t take a lot to serve. Serving can be as simple as being open and honest with people about injustice, building positive relationships with others, or giving help to anyone who needs it. Especially when it comes to feminism, the way in which you relate to others and the sexual environment you create for yourself can be a radical act in & of itself. To quote the late great Howard Zinn, “small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world”. I appreciate National Months such as these because they have the ability to remind us that we all can make a difference and have a duty as citizens to build the beloved community Dr. King and others have worked for.
Holy shitballs, girls; I LUFF you!! USA!!
What a great team of ladies.
Women-friendly / empowering music for your International Women’s Day.
Above: Destiny’s Child - Independent Women
India Arie - Video
Destiny’s Child - Girl
Jill Scott - Hate On Me
Barbara Streisand - Don’t Rain On My Parade
Tupac - Keep Ya Head Up
KRS One - Womanology
Common - Faithful
James Brown - This is a Man’s World
and of course,
Spice Girls - Wannabe
WOMEN IN THE WORLD TODAY READING LIST
A 2011 video from the Economist on women’s economic opportunities around the world.
Happy International Women’s Day!
Rep. Lynn Woolsey, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Donna Edwards, Ritu Sharma, Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Rep. Marcy Kaptur. Ritu Sharma, Co-Founder and President of Women Thrive Worldwide, and female Members of Congress celebrate their unified commitment to fasting in solidarity with poor women around the world. (PRNewsFoto/Women Thrive Worldwide)
You know it makes me unhappy (what’s that)
When brothas make babies, and leave a young mother to be a pappy
And since we all came from a woman
Got our name from a woman and our game from a woman
I wonder why we take from our women
Why we rape our women, do we hate our women?
I think it’s time to kill for our women
Time to heal our women, be real to our women
And if we don’t we’ll have a race of babies
That will hate the ladies, that make the babies
And since a man can’t make one
He has no right to tell a woman when and where to create one
So will the real men get up
I know you’re fed up ladies, but keep your head up”
— Tupac Shakur, “Keep ya head up”