Dear Mass NOW Community,
Recently, menstrual activist Ileri Jaiyeoba wrote a powerful article A Call for Accountability: Anti Blackness in the Menstrual Justice Space about her experience with manipulation and marginalization from Nadya Okamoto and Period.org. Upon sharing, many other activists have come forward with similar stories of plagiarism, efforts to dissolve “competition”, misrepresenting housing instability as homelessness and claiming to be the first on initiatives like National Period Day. As an organization that has partnered with Period.org, honored Nadya with the 2019 Wonder Woman awardee at our Feminist Affair this past fall and is committed to radical transparency and honesty in our ongoing antiracist work – we take these accusations very seriously and are committed to the following action steps:
- Nadya and PERIOD are no longer apart of the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition
- Retract the 2019 Wonder Woman Award from Nadya and redistribute the award to QTBIPOC menstrual equity activists in Massachusetts
- Convene the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition this month to reflect on our role and complicity in anti-Blackness and develop an accountability plan with QTBIPOC-led organizations in the menstrual justice space.
Mass NOW stands in solidarity with Black organizations and businesses in the period space, and until PERIOD and Nadya meet the accountability demands of the activists, they will no longer be a part of the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity coalition.
Mass NOW and the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition is committed to reflecting on our role and complicity in anti-blackness and are doubling down on our work to partner with QTBIPOC-led organizations in the menstrual justice space. The Mass NOW board has decided to retract the 2019 Wonder Woman Award, and instead will be redistributing the award to the QTBIPOC activists who’ve been leading menstrual equity work in Massachusetts. We are still developing what this and accountability overall for our coalition looks like and will be convening the coalition this month to discuss our action plan.
As a currently and historically white led organization, we recognize Mass NOW’s privilege to amplify period poverty without ever having experienced it ourselves – and are committed to working in solidarity with impacted communities and QTBIPOC-led organizations. We know that this means we have blindspots, make mistakes and want to be transparent when we do and hold ourselves accountable. We will be following up more to acknowledge ways Mass NOW & the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition have been complicit in anti-Blackness and what action steps we will take to dismantle the structures that have allowed for this complicity. The Mass NOW board is currently in the process of developing a racial justice accountability plan for our organization too and would love to hear feedback from our community directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or anonymously anytime.
We am incredibly proud of and grateful for the activists in this coalition who made us aware of the situation and immediately took action. Read this statement of solidarity on the Massachusetts Menstrual Equity Coalition website. We have shared here some of the black-led organizations and businesses in the menstrual equity space and encourage everyone to support these organizations and businesses and commit to educating themselves, not only by exploring the work of those listed, but also by continuously seeking to find and learn more about black-led organizations and businesses in the period space. You can read a statement from one of our coalition members, the former Brandeis PERIOD chapter here. If you need, here is an anonymous form to share harms experienced from Nadya and PERIOD.
In the meantime, we want everyone to know that it is thanks to Manikka Bowman’s advocacy, by the 2017/18 school year the Cambridge Public School System was the first in the Commonwealth to implement a menstrual product policy in schools. We can’t wait for every school, shelter & prison in Massachusetts to follow in their footsteps. Menstrual products are necessities. Period.
A lot of the dialogue has been on instagram. Here are some links to read more: