Womxn’s March Seattle is amidst change, after it was intended for cancelation. White womxn from former years stepped down to support positions or away completely. Over coffee, the new and returning leaders decided cancelling the march would be a disservice to womxn in a heightened social political climate. With special consideration to marginalized people who are most impacted by historical and systemic oppression.
Seattle Indivisible’s press conference on Dec. 10 marked the leadership transition from Liberty Harrington to Phoenix Johnson, Tlingit & Haida Tribal Nation and the president of Veterans For Peace Seattle. Bianca Davis-Lovelace, African American and of the WA Poor People's Campaign, and three other volunteer steering committee members who identify as Muslim American, Jewish-Latina, and Mexican Immigrant, embarked with ya as we welcomed more diverse leaders spanning generations.
Phoenix laid the path for 2020 to crack away at the layers of social justice, political and feminist movements that rarely benefit marginalized people.
“I am the Future” aims to amplify youth voices to catalyzing change with and for young femmes. Sabreen Nuru Tuku, Ethiopian Eritrean American-Muslim and of the U.S. Climate Strike Logistics Team, said, “I want this to be a space where everyone who has ever been othered feels comfortable… no longer the other.”
However, the new team met challenges. Whereas the former committee had three to six months to plan each year, this handover began 38 days prior.
The Womxn’s March has a perception of centering white feminism. Though this critique is immensely valid, womxn of color were present in former programs. Undertones rung differently. The proprietary mentality that pervaded the space gated most resources. Echoes of these dynamics, and more, seemed reflective of the silence and opposition from potential supporters.
Economic circumstances were crippling; the remaining $4,000 couldn’t be returned and all incoming donations would be unavailable until after the event, per the former year’s fiscal sponsor.
We are caused to ask how society co-signs on class and race injustice even in justice spaces. While white womxn may walk away with intact privileges or survive on volunteerism models, marginalized communities face daily struggles that cannot simply be walked away from. Without exchanges of resources, unrightful burdens on marginalized people continues. Bianca says, “My people built this country for free and yet we have never been compensated for that labor.”
Three organizers stepped away. Reasons included capacity and leading her organization during such a time. Another cited “the crisis at the Canadian border with dozens of Iranian Americans being detained.” The last to leave expressed concerns over destabilized relationships. Over-taxing workloads and exhaustion span the whole team. Marginalized communities are consistently stressed, increasingly under duress, some are under attack, and with little reprieve. While an important catalyst, the march cannot overshadow the attention front lines require; it’s purpose is to support it and amplify it.
Joy and hope are on the horizon. Jasmine Fernandez, Fillipino and of Anakbayan, affirmed, “The fact this womxn’s march is youth centered is so critical because the youth are the truth … and taking on every single issue.”
Ava Sharifi, Iranian and a UW poli-sci student, emphatically said, “I don’t want this to focus on the Trump administration. We have to focus on the systemic issues… and cannot be distracted.”
Tye Reed (Black, queer and of the Transit Riders Union) echoed these sentiments and added that womxn of color leadership is rooted in relationship building.
This year’s team is in agreement that this effort must instill hope.
Miss Teen British Columbia silver medalist swimmer, Simsimtko Whitewing, First Nations, shared her vision: “I see a peaceful march where everyone is respectful to each other, that it will become a space where you feel safe. I envision inspiration that womxn will take back from this future experience.” Also providing hope are our gracious partners, including Coyote Central, Y-We and the Seattle Art Museum who have opened their spaces and networks to build together for a better future. We thank them.
With careful consideration, “Womxn’s March on Seattle 2020: I am the Future” must be postponed. International Womxn’s Day March 8 presents the perfect opportunity to preserve stand alone authenticity and continuity of this march and womxns liberation. Nara Kim, a Korean-American of Sunrise Movement, stated, “It isn't until we actually show up that people can see the tangible results of the work.”
Over the next 60 days, we all have an opportunity to continue to rise. We will build and do outreach with the time we didn’t have and, hopefully, more resources. Please join us as we move toward the future we all deserve for generations to come.
Read the full Jan. 15-21 issue.
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