A Feminist Survival Guide to Seattle
By Jocelyn Macdonald
On December 16, 2014, Seattle Black Feminists presented a Speak Out, hosted and co-organized by Radical Women at New Freeway Hall in Columbia City. After a chili dinner and plenty of time to catch up with comrades and activist friends of all stripes, organizers called the Speak Out to order. Sarah Stott read a selection from her novel-in-progress, about entrenched racism in higher ed. She raised questions of identity — how do people of color construct their own multi-dimensional identities in light of the fact that they are othered by the dominant culture. This othering whittles us into easily identifiable traits, and allows us to quantify and qualify the experiences of the marginalized. In her piece, one of the characters, a bi-racial woman, checks “white” on her school application, to be sure she is not accepted due to affirmative action. It was the perfect tone to kick off the conversation.
And with that, the mic was open for folks to come up and share poems, stories, and stump speeches. Themes of pain, identity, and anger were woven in among calls for concrete strategies, like affirmative action, to ease the chokehold of white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. The movement is getting organized, and the crowd was determined to create clear demands and better branding than some of the movements that have faltered under neoliberalism in the last few decades. Calls for a civilian review board were many, along with disarming the cops, and putting pressure on our county prosecutor, Dan Satterberg, who consistently refuses to prosecute cops. Again and again, the group of mostly women affirmed that women of color, and especially black women, must lead us in stopping police brutality and the general dehumanization of the 99 percent. We learned many lessons from the Civil Rights movement of the 60s, and we are learning those lessons again, right now, in Ferguson, Missouri. As Seattle NAACP attorney Sheley Secrest said, “the power of the people is stronger than the people in power.”
Look for more events by Radical Women and Seattle Black Feminists, and some of the other amazing activists we met last night on our calendar.