Yes. I have high hopes for the Autumn.
There is a gathering in Detroit at the end of October.
I am of course thinking of Seneca Falls, but also of Julia Ward Howe’s words:
In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women, without limit of nationality, may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient, and at the earliest period consistent with its objects…
The Women’s suffrage movement made some poor judgments mid-Nineteenth Century and the along the way through the 20th Century. They addressed class but chose to exclude race from the scope of their concerns. After an inclusive beginning at Seneca Falls in 1848 which Frederick Douglass attended and at which he spoke, and at which abolitionists were well represented, something happened. That something was silence. White privilege is not a new concept. Inherent bias within the ruling class, whites, existed pre- and post- Civil War, and existed on both sides, not just the Confederate side. After the Civil War the North needed to walk the walk at home and in the southern lands and peoples that lost. They did not do this. It was more comfortable for white women to stick with white concerns and less painful for them to avoid the integrative issues, such as economic inequality.
We have started to own up to this history and must continue to do so. It benefits no one to engage in counting wrongs. Wrongs cannot be compared. I may have been raised in poverty and diminished by sexism, but I will not compare my personal history with anyone else’s. I will not pretend I can right the wrongs of the past either. I can acknowledge them. I can try to stop their perpetuation.
I know I am not alone. For almost 5 years a group of Tucson women writers have met once a month to discuss blogging and social media as it relates to business, personal writing, ethics, and legacy. The group is actively engaged in creating a better world. We are meeting the weekend of the Autumnal Equinox to have a retreat/conference. I know of at least a dozen other women’s groups in the area working to similar ends. Such groups and numbers, when combined, across the US and world, can and will change everything.
For 10 years prior to that I was a local, regional, and national level activist in a women’s peace and justice group.
The time is right.
The combining mechanism has been announced. The Women’s March has announced the Women’s Convention at the end of October of this year, 2017.
It is time for the aspirations of Seneca Falls to meet the full spectrum of American women in Detroit.
I will be there, will you?
Carol Cassara (@ccassara)
Seneca Falls. It’s hard for me to believe that I’m from the part of NY state that led the women’s movement. It was something I knew growing up, but didn’t know as much as I should have.
So… It was a difficult era for women and I find it hard to look back to it with the filter of today’s values. Yes, of course, race should have been a bigger thing, but it wasn’t as big as it should’ve been, anywhere in the country. We were, as they say, clueless. I can imagine the private strategy conversations that went on focusing on the idea of “one at a time.” Women had been denied so long that I’m sure they felt adding race was adding a layer of complication that would delay women’s rights. Of course, here we sit in 2017 and the ERA was never ratified, although other rights did arrive. But really, a lot of things haven’t changed. There’s sexism and there’s racism and…sigh. This is really a conversation to have and I have hopes we’ll have it one day. I won’t be in Detroit, though. xox