October 20, 2020

Womxn’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts

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The Womxn’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts is a coalition of community members, dedicated to antiracism and intersectional feminism, committed to fostering solidarity between our social justice interests, and engaging the community through accessible and inclusive programming. Through collaboration we will lead the way to a stronger sense of solidarity, civic engagement, and collective action towards systemic change. As an alliance, we value collaboration, compassion, integrity, perseverance, inclusion and respect the dignity of all through recognizing intersectionality.

We are an antiracist organization committed to racial justice, equity, equality, and human decency. We conscientiously use “womxn” to signify our inclusion of cis- and transgender women, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming individuals.

“Feminism,” according to Black feminist scholar bell hooks, “is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” Years earlier, Black feminist scholar and activist Angela Davis proclaimed “in a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist,” which calls on each of us to actively participate in combating racism in all forms. hooks reiterates this commitment to intersectionality and antiracism: “There could be no real sisterhood between white women and women of color if white women were not able to divest of white supremacy, if [they] were not fundamentally anti-racist.” The Womxn’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts is a part of the continued development of an anti-racist feminist movement; to become “stronger,” at hooks’ urging, by commiting to “a vision of sisterhood where all our realities could be spoken.”

August 18, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, following decades of agitation and protest by the women’s suffrage movement; one that was comprised of Black, Indigenous, White, poor, working class, middle class, and wealthy women. Yet the ratification of the 19th Amendment was, in practice, a right reserved for White women only. States constructed voter suppression tactics such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and outright intimidation to prevent Black women from voting, and Indigenous women were not considered US citizens until 1924. Furthermore, many of the White suffragists held racist, White supremacist views; worked against the enfranchisement and freedom of Black women, and played a powerful role in maintaining White supremacy. The 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment provides us a critical opportunity for reckoning with the women’s suffrage movement’s racist past, and the battle for equality and equity that persists to this day. This reckoning requires an intersectional framework, one that recognizes multiple systems of oppression. As Audre Lorde proclaimed, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” The 19th Amendment Suffrage Centennial prompts us to reconsider this cherished history, to unlearn the whitewashed history of the women’s suffrage movement, to critically examine our strategies for achieving equity and equality today, and to commit ourselves to intersectionality and its refusal to treat race, class, gender, sexuality, country of origin, age, and ability as mutually exclusive.

As August 18th marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, it is also a stark reminder that voting rights are still far from equal, particularly as voter suppression tactics spread across the country. This anniversary is part of a larger “wake up call” to recognize and address this growing trend of systemic voter suppression and to commit ourselves to protecting democracy. Massachusetts has emerged as a leader in the movement for Vote By Mail; a tested, secure process which is shown to improve voter turnout by 9% and, at this current moment, to protect the health of those most at risk of COVID-19. With the MA Vote By Mail Bill, each Massachusetts registered voter was mailed a ballot application (with return postage) on July 15th and will again on September 14th.

• To register/update your registration: www.registertovotema.com 
• Deadline to Register to Vote for the State Primary Election is August 22, 2020
• Download a mail ballot application: www.mailmyballotma.com  
• Deadline to apply for a mailed ballot for the primary election August 26, 2020
• State Primary Election September 1, 2020

Of equal importance this year is the 2020 United States Census. From how people are represented in government to the distribution of over $675 billion annual in federal funding for schools, hospitals, and roads, federal census data undergirds critical decisions and policies that impact our community each year for ten years. Everybody benefits from a complete count because everybody relies on the funding and policies determined by the Census. The Census is a matter of racial justice, economic justice, and political equality in the United States. Complete your Census today at https://my2020census.gov/login 

The Womxn’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts is a coalition of community members -- individuals and individuals representing organizations and businesses --dedicated to antiracism and intersectional feminism. Individuals committed to social justice interests are welcome and encouraged to join. For more information and/or to join, please contact womxnsalliancesema@gmail.com.

Rachel Dzengelewski, Women's Fund Southcoast
Margo Saulnier, Creative Strategist, New Bedford Creative
Abby Abrahamson, Intern, Women's Fund Southcoast
Kelley Medeiros, Clinic Director, Health Imperatives
Margaret McSweeny, Our Sisters' School
Corinn Williams, Community Economic Development Center
Dr. Juli Parker, Director, UMass Dartmouth Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality
Lindsay Carter-Monteiro, President, Martha Briggs Educational Club, Inc.
Leimary Llopiz (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers), Advocacy Assistant, YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts
Kristina da Fonseca, Executive Director, SouthCoast Fair Housing
Yasmin Flefleh-Vincent, Director of Religious Education, The First Unitarian Church in New Bedford
Coalition for Social Justice
Joanne Murray, Executive Director, Women’s Fund Southcoast
Soraya DosSantos
Gail Fortes, Executive Director, YWCA Southeastern MA
New Bedford Whaling Museum
Ashley Moore, Director of Education and Community Engagement, Zeiterion Performing Arts Center
Rayana Grace, SouthCoast Community Foundation
YWCA Southeastern MA
Andrea M. Garr-Barnes, MSW Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Facilitator & Speaker
Lee Heald, Director, AHA!
Raquel Dias
Rhonda M. Fazio
Iva Brito, Bristol Women's Center
Lisa Lemieux, President, Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council
Jordan Pouliot Latham, Director of Advocacy and Resource Development, YWCA Southeastern MA

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