White Women: Let’s Talk.

Chosen side of oppressor_optMy disbelief and astonishment at Kavanaugh’s advancement seems silly now. It’s clear now that my perspective before Kavanaugh was directly tied to my whiteness. It’s the whiteness that gave me privilege—and blinders.

I say this as a white woman who has already done a fair amount of work on understanding white privilege—as someone who has studied history and actively worked on grassroots engagement and advocacy on issues including environmental racism, racial justice, and immigration and detention. As white people go, I’m more woke than most. But still…the blinders were real.

The Kavanaugh episode showed me that the people in power in our government—people who are mostly white and mostly men and mostly wealthy—are not just indifferent to me and the issues and the people I care about. They don’t just have different starting perspectives about what’s best for our country, and they aren’t just swayed or blinded by connections with political party, big money, and corporations.

No. The mostly white, mostly male, and mostly wealthy people in power are actively opposed to me and the issues and the people I care about. Continue reading

Expanding Notions of Justice

woman-picking-potatoesWhen I was done speaking, I walked back to my seat in one of the front pews. The conference broke for lunch a few minutes later and as I stuffed my spiral notebook into my backpack, the morning session’s first speaker came over and shook my hand. It was an honor to meet the director of a religiously-based international relief organization; it was even more an honor, to speak right after he had that morning.

As I shook his hand, I thanked him for his work and was about to say more when he posed a gentle challenge. “I listened with interest to your presentation,” he said, “especially the part about charity and justice. And I wondered: isn’t the work that we’re doing also justice work, even though it’s not legislative advocacy?”

Gulp. Had I just unintentionally diminished the good work of an international relief organization?  Continue reading

Why We Still Need Religious Women’s Groups

suffrageOnce upon a time—not too long ago—I thought religious women’s groups were destined to be a relic of the past, and that was okay by me. Women of previous generations needed women’s groups; in them, they organized for women’s rights, public schools, health services, and so much more. For those pioneering women, coming together in congregations for mutual support, encouragement, and communication was vital and essential. Religious women’s groups were activist training grounds, places of refuge, and centers of power.  Continue reading