Dispatch #64 April 14th 2020
Day 1250 Post-Ascendency of White Supremacy & Misogyny
Day 1178 Post-Installation of White-Supremacist-Misogynist-Pussy-Grabbing-Self-Aggrandizing-Demagogic-Bully-Illegitimate-PeeeOTUS & his White-Nationalist-Fascistic-Christian-Supremacist-Quislings
Now for something completely fabulous and inspiring!! I thank the heart of my heart — Heather, spouse, partner, friend, soul-kin for sending this to me.
Krista Tippet in conversation with Ai-jen Poo on Krista Tippet’s On Being Podcast https://onbeing.org/series/podcast/ aired on April 2, 2020.
Krista Tippet is a Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and journalist and was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2014 by Barak Obama. Ai-jen Poo is the co-founder and Executive Director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance http://www.domesticworkers.org/ and a 2014 recipient of the MacArthur “Genius” Award.
Listening to these two amazing women talk, I cannot imagine a more loving and moving and inspiring conversation about movement work for social justice. Here are a few excerpts https://onbeing.org/programs/ai-jen-poo-this-is-our-caring-revolution/#transcript :
If you think about it, this work of caring for our children as nannies, or our aging parents as homecare workers, is some of the most profound and important work in our lives. We call it the work that makes everything else possible, because it makes it possible for all of us to go out and do what we do every day, knowing that some of the most precious aspects of our lives are in good hands. And yet, it’s some of the most invisible and undervalued work; millions of women do this as a profession, but it’s not even considered a profession, it’s referred to as “help.”
In the experience of this workforce, you can really see the ways that our society and our culture are still very much structured by a hierarchy of human value, whether it’s race or gender; that we do value the lives and contributions of some people over others. And that is how we sit at the intersection of so much, because it’s not just one hierarchy that we’re concerned with. It’s that there shouldn’t be any; that, at our essence, we should all be whole and human and have dignified work and be able to care for our families. And if we can achieve that for this workforce, the ripple effects for everyone will be profound.
I’ve also seen incredible acts of solidarity and courage on the part of families that support this workforce. There’s a whole organization that’s formed called Hand in Hand, which is of people who hire and rely upon caregivers and domestic workers who’ve decided that they want to advocate for domestic workers’ rights and for good jobs and living wages. And that kind of energy, I feel like, is just multiplying in this period. I think all of us are waking up to the fact that we are interdependent and that we have to start to make some pretty significant changes in the way that we value our relationships, especially our caregiving relationships, if we’re to make it through.
One of the most powerful things I think we can do, in this moment, is, be intentional about where we put our attention. And I think it’s so true that we are dealing with so much bad news, horrible news. And there is also so much beauty happening in the world right now, and so many people who have shown up. I work on immigration issues, family separation in particular, and the number of goodhearted people who have stepped forward to collect donations, to sponsor families, to show up in ways that are quite uncomfortable for them, is so profound. I’ve been an activist for more than 25 years, and I’ve never seen the level of civic participation and energy and just a hunger to connect and to be a part of the solution than I see now.
Do set aside one hour to listen to this podcast. You will feel encouraged and moved to keep fighting.
Another must listen is SUNSTORM – an audio salon hosted by two powerful activists, Ai-jen Poo and Alicia Garza, founder of Black Lives Matters with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi. Ai-jen and Alicia talk to their friends about how women stay powerful and joyful while organizing and advocating for social justice. Their podcast debuted in January 2020. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sunstorm-with-alicia-garza-ai-jen-poo/id1494375133
Ai-Jen describes the podcast like this: “it’s based off of the weather pattern called a sunstorm, where you can have really torrential storm — rain, sometimes even hail — but somehow, miraculously, the sun is still shining….After the 2016 election, it felt, to us, like a political sunstorm — that we were both dealing with unprecedented dangers and threats and unprecedented signs of hope, and that women, in particular, were the leading edge — that they were really the sun, shining through, first responders in our crisis.”
Shout out to Angela Davis who insists: “You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.”
And lest we white women get too self-satisfied saluting women of color, Julie Lythcott-Haims’s review of Hood Feminism Notes From The Women That A Movement Forgot, by Mikki Kendall, is required reading. http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/hood-feminism-makes-a-convincing–and-urgent–case-about-how-race-and-class-divide-women/2020/04/08/4f1d9bf8-69fe-11ea-9923-57073adce27c_story.html
The ache at the heart of Mikki Kendall’s bracing new essay collection, “Hood Feminism,” is whether all women actually have a common set of interests. Kendall never asks this question outright — she takes it as a given and anguishes “when the people who are supposed to be your allies on one axis are your oppressors on another.” But her book appears on the heels of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment — a movement that relegated the needs of black women to the background while centering on the desire of white women to take their rightful place alongside white men. And as she mounts the evidence of what hasn’t changed in the past hundred years — that mainstream feminists still largely ignore the needs of their poorer and browner sisters — one cannot help but ask the more existential question: Do well-off white women regard nonwhite women, and poor women, as their equals?
Lythcott-Haims considers Kendall’s essay collection critically and points out instances of undisciplined and cliched writing that detracts from the book’s topic – a topic that Lythcott-Haims describes as one of the most morally pressing concerns of our time. She concludes her review:
Despite these flaws, the book succeeds in drawing the ineluctable conclusion that poor and working-class women, particularly when of color, lead a profoundly different life in America than their wealthier and white counterparts. As single moms who can’t afford feminine hygiene products, find fresh produce or secure online connectivity for their child’s virtual education, watch wealthier women clamor for more security for themselves, Sojourner Truth’s plaintive question “Ain’t I a woman?” seems as relevant today as when it was first uttered.
“Sometimes being a good ally is about opening the door for someone instead of insisting that your voice is the only one that matters,” Kendall writes. “It means being willing to not just pass the mic but to sometimes get completely off the stage so that someone else can get the attention they need to get their work done.”
We cannot forget that the majority of white women in 2016 – upper and middle class, college-educated – voted for our wannabe-dictator-enfant-terrible-in-chief. Not all are to blame, but everyone is responsible for making amends.