By Tough Love/Allie, the Conversation Starter
Due to time constraints I was unable to deliver my speech at the Annapolis Women’s March on Saturday, 20 January 2018. As I co-emceed the event, and then later watched other marches online, I recognized that these words I have written need to be said. Here is what I feel needs to be addressed for the movement to keep its momentum and continue to sustain itself.
The definition of sisterhood is when two siblings of the same gender share common DNA from a parent (if not adopted); it can also mean a community of women with common interests, beliefs, or religion who develop a bond so strong that they treat each other as if they had been born from the same mother. This is what the Women’s Day March has come to represent for all of us who are here today or, at another march somewhere around the nation.
The march has garnered much attention. No one really fathomed that so many women could be mobilized in order to show support for one another, as well as unify their voices to say enough is enough!
But that said, this has to be more than a feel-good moment, a moment where we, as females, stand in solidarity for one day out of the year proclaiming love, admiration, and unity; and then by tomorrow morning we go back to our respective corners. We speak to one another of the march with nostalgia and reverence instead of with vigor and sisterly determination and purpose.
As you came to march in solidarity, what and who did you come for? Honestly—who did you come for? I ask this question because our relationship as sisters is extremely fragile. Yes, we are here today. Melanated women—African American, Indigenous/Native American, and Latinas—are here with you, white women. Yes, I am speaking to you. Where have you been for us? And once this march is over, will we see you, and will you support our causes? Because the truth and reality of who is most impacted by the patriarchal system we all live under is that melanated women are. We struggle the most. We lose the most. We are scorned and violated the most, and we are the ones who die under it the most. The empirical data is there for you to find.
Yet you, my non-melanated sisters, even though we have been responsive in supporting the national cause of resistance to the current administration of racism and favoritism for the rich, you have not shown up for our very specific causes, which include: missing and murdered Indigenous women, as explained by Indigenous advocate Aminah Sane Ghaffar; an Indigenous youth suicide crisis; systematic racism; mass incarceration and police brutality; education; DACA and Dreamer concerns; and last but not least, the fight against pipelines. These issues are fought on the local and federal levels in our communities. They are social-justice issues that include us all at the local level.
We have “gotten national” in response to your call, and now you need to “get local” in response to ours. Too often it happens that our numbers are limited when you “invite” us to participate. Our Indigenous sisters are excluded entirely. It even happens that we may be shut out of a process that we either established or helped you to get started.
Am I chastising you? Yes, I am, because that is what family—sisters do. They keep each other honest and accountable. This sisterhood will not sustain itself if the ties that bind us together are not strengthened. We are strong in the light, but in the dark, where it counts, we are weak, fragile and fallible.
Sisterly advice: Research, reach out, and learn. Realize that sometimes you will not get to lead, nor should you. Know that our voices will lead at times. When it comes to our Indigenous sisters, it is your responsibility to learn about their community and issues—not for them to “let you know” what they are. All of our issues are of significance. We are expecting you to recognize ours just as we “know” the bigger issues that we all face, as women in this country.
It is 2018, the year of the woman taking action! We are Action. United we can change the scope of not only this county but also of this state and this nation. We cannot do it separated. Support must go both ways. As melanated women, we are expecting you to show up. Show up! We have had your backs, now we need you to have ours, because that is what sisters do!
2018 Is the year in which we as a sisterhood shift our paradigm towards being intentionally responsible and supportive of each other. We need to really think about what sisterhood means and what it should look like. We should only get stronger!
Allie Simmons is the mother of three, an educator, activist and community organizer. Allie established a business, The Change Starter, LLC as well as founded a coaliton called The Conversations Starters. Both are grounded in educating the masses on racism while dismantling it at the same time; through consistent raw and honest Conversations on race and its issues.
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