Dear Mass NOW Community,
Mass NOW must work in partnership and solidarity with Black people and people of color. This partnership and solidarity means that we believe – and stand with – women of color. As recently reported in The Daily Beast and Jezebel, women of color have shared their accounts of disturbing, racist behavior and actions by Toni Van Pelt, the President of the National Organization of Women.
Today I, Sasha Goodfriend, am writing on behalf of the Mass NOW Leadership Board to share with you what we demand from National NOW in response to these unacceptable, racist actions, what we believe our role is as Mass NOW members, and what we’re going to do next to prioritize racial justice in our work.
Calling on Toni Van Pelt, the National NOW President, to Resign
The Mass NOW board is unanimous in asking Toni to resign immediately, joining many State Presidents and National NOW board members who are also calling for Toni’s resignation. Toni has lost our confidence to not only carry out but represent the mission of our organization.
Just like we ask our members to hold their elected officials, workplaces and institutions accountable, we have to model what that looks like in our own organization too. If you would like to join us in asking Toni to resign you can email her at email@example.com. At this moment,10 National NOW board members have asked her to resign and only two more are needed to make it final.
Mass NOW’s Journey to Center Racial Justice in Our Work
We’d like to use this opportunity for self reflection about how we can do better and aim to be as transparent as possible.
As leaders, modeling equity means being proactive and explicit about recognizing our privilege. I have privilege because I am white, cis, upper middle class, able-bodied and I’m still learning more every day. For instance, I know that my privilege has been a part of how quickly I’ve risen to leadership positions both within Mass NOW & the other organizations I’m part of. When I joined the Mass NOW board in 2014 I remember feeling like I was the diversity in the room because around the table of all white women I was the only person in my generation and visibly queer. Even though the leadership board now looks a lot different, we still have a long way to go before we realize our goal of having a representative leadership.
Here are some steps we have taken over the past few years to better center racial justice in our work:
- In 2016, we transitioned to a volunteer-led organization to invest our resources into developing a racial justice strategic plan.
- We worked with a racial justice consultant to hold focus groups and survey our members to learn about our demographic composition and develop a needs based assessment.
- We diversified our board, joined and created new coalitions to ensure more intersectional feminist legislative agenda, the I AM bill chief among them.
- In 2018, the Anti Racism Collaborative facilitated racial justice trainings for our board and last year, we co-hosted Dismantling White Feminism workshops for our community.
Showing Up for Racial Justice Moving Forward
You might be wondering, what does ‘White Feminism’ mean? According to Dictionary.com “White feminism is the label given to feminist efforts and actions that uplift white women but that exclude or otherwise fail to address issues faced by minority groups, especially women of color and LGBTQ women.” Our board aims to address this in all of our programming, but we also know until we have a representative board we will have blind spots, we will mess up, but we pledge to learn and grow. Here are some actions we are taking right now and into the future:
- This year, our board convened a racial justice committee to meet biweekly to continue advancing our racial justice goals – coincidentally our first step was to share with you all our process transparently.
- In Mass NOW fashion, we will convene our community in a Consciousness Raising Tuesday, June 30th 6-7:30PM dedicated to Dismantling White Feminism. Join us in reading these resources from SURJ to inspire our conversations
- Mass NOW must work in partnership with people of color
and take the time to rebuild trust by showing up in solidarity. Furthermore, when we look at the intersections of race and gender identity we know that Black Trans women face compounded impacts of patriarchy and white supremacy and are often invisible from social justice movements. For Mass NOW, one of the best things that has come out of our work is our partnership with the Transgender Emergency Fund. This week, we are thrilled to be supporting the Trans Resistance March & Vigil Saturday June 13th 2020 at 3PM at Franklin Park. Please donate if you are able.
- Additionally, if you live in Boston, we encourage you to sign this petition to Defund Police and Fund Our Communities from Free the People.
Please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions and we are happy to talk more. If you would like to share your thoughts anonymously, here is an anonymous form to share your feedback on how Mass NOW can center racial justice in our work.
The Mass NOW Leadership Board
Sasha, Casey, Julia, Kelsey, Karena, Kate, Ali, Grace, Erin, Helen, Paul, Sam, Linda & Jill