Ten Quotes from "What is Solidarity for Women of Color?"

Every month the National Organization for Women-New York City (NOW-NYC) activist alliance hosts an activist night addressing the many layers of the women's equality and rights movement. In early October, NOW-NYC sent out an event invitation for this month's activist night, "What is Solidarity for Women of Color?" The hot topic was prompted by this summer's Twitter hashtag #SolidarityisforWhiteWomen. Feminist blogger, Mikki Kendall created the satirical hashtag in response to Tweets from self-proclaimed "male feminist", Hugo Schwyzer.

In the course of a month the activist night grew in number of attendees and NOW-NYC invited amazing women of color feminist writers and activists to sit on a panel and discuss the racial inclusiveness of the feminist movement. The panelist included Olivia Canlas, NYC Chapter Coordinator for AF3IRM; Tiloma Jayasinghe, Executive Director for Sakhi for South Asian Women; Nicole Moore, Founder of The Hotness; Patricia Valoy, Feminist Blogger for “Womanisms” and “Everyday Feminism”; Lori Adelman, Executive Director and Writer for Feministing

We spent two hours weighing in on the representation of women of color in politics and legislation, media and pop culture and topics ranging from Miley Cyrus to economics. Audience members used the hashtags #NOWWomenofColor and #SolidarityisforWOC to open the conversation up to social media outlets. Although plenty was said, there were ten standout quotes from the panelists that I shared with my Facebook followers. 

  • "For women of color we can't lean in, we have to lean on. We need to come together because the institution itself doesn't work for me, and its not working for you." -Nicole Moore
  • "A lot of successful feminist work has been off of the back of other women, particularly women of color." -Olivia Canlas
  • "I have something very specific in mind when talking about centering women of color. Are the women of color the center of the discussion? Are they participating? Writers are writers, they're not necessarily activists... I took that responsibility. There is a very clear documented history of a global movement excluding women of color." -Lori Adelman
  • "Black women are over it. Miley Cyrus is just a part of reappropriation 3.0. Juxtapose that with Rihanna, to everyone she is slut, she is prostitute. Madonna did the same thing and was hailed as a feminist by white women." -Nicole Moore on Miley Cyrus
  • "How do you affirm that you are American?" -Patricia Valoy
  • "We have had a lot of women of color who have made a significant contribution to our movement be overlooked. We have had a woman of color write something about race on the site and it was poorly received. " -Lori Adelman, on Women of Color contributing to Feminitisting
  • "We are the other, we are the side of the margins. How do you expect the mainstream media to pay attention to the other?" -Patricia Valoy on Latin American immigration
  • "We weren't at the table to put our voice in. We didn't have a strong voice on the hill advocating for us. Mainstream organizations were there. We have 5 years, we have to get on it. Rather than to have money to give visas to victims of crime, they allocated the money to see how many visas were used as fraud. They were looking at women who look like me. VAWA fails, it is a law and order reaction to domestic violence. I have women of color who will not call the police because of the embedded racism." -Tiloma Jayasinghe on VAWA
  • "Racism and sexism can't be solved just by us. Sometimes we put that on ourselves. I hold other people accountable for making hostile work environments where I have to be this assertive." -Lori Adelman
  • "I am trying to thrive in a country where the first lady gets judged by her body parts. Marissa Alexander is serving 20 years from shooting a warning shot into the ceiling to get away from her violent husband." -Nicole Moore

Lori Adelman recapped the event in a piece for Feministing and you can visit NOW-NYC's YouTube Channel, "NOWNewYorkCity1" to see last week's panel discussion.