Message by Lois Danks, Radical Women Organizer, Port Angeles, Washington
December 30, 2013
Let's begin the new year by celebrating women who stood up in 2013 for the rights of females, immigrants, the poor, and the working class!
To start, here's rave reviews for working women who are walking out over low wages and lack of respect—nurses, teachers, public employees, and those in home care, fast food, agriculture, and Walmart. From Athens to Detroit, women have protested cuts in social services and called for canceling the debt. They've sent a message that the vulnerable should not pay the price for an economic crisis created by the ruling class.
A tremendous toast to activists who inspire others from prison cells! Nestora Salgado is a naturalized U.S. citizen who organized for indigenous rights in her hometown of Olinalá, Mexico and was thrown in jail on trumped up charges. Radical civil liberties attorney Lynne Stewart is unjustly imprisoned under draconian Patriot Act rules and fighting for her life against cancer. And military whistleblower Chelsea Manning, who has courageously come out as transgender, is behind bars for exposing U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Click on these links to join the international campaign for Nestora, demand compassionate release for Lynne and win clemency for Chelsea.)
A shout-out for Rasmea Odeh, a gutsy Palestinian-American feminist arrested by Homeland Security on ridiculous charges after working for 40 years to empower Arab women and demand justice for Palestinians. Released on bond, she and the Committee to Stop FBI Repression build support for her trial.
Spirited salute is due to Marissa Alexander, an African American mom in Florida who was originally sentenced to 20 years for firing a warning shot to stop an attack by her abusive husband. Public outcry led by the Free Marissa Now campaign exposed the deeply racist treatment of Black women who fight back and won Marissa a new trial that begins in March.
Heartfelt kudos also go to Sybrina Fulton and Lucia McBath (the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Jordan Davis) who are fighting to overturn the racist Stand Your Ground law that shielded their childrens' murderers.
Rousing applause for 7-year-old Oklahoma student Tiana Parker and 12-year-old Vanessa VanDyke of Florida who beat their schools' bigoted policies prohibiting dreadlocks or afro hairdos.
And let's commend courageous voices for immigrant rights. Eighteen women in the El Paso Detention Center went on a hunger strike to oppose the practice of holding immigrants months after they've met all conditions for release. In city after city, young women chained themselves to deportation buses and detention center gates to demand an end to deportations, the right to attend college and keep families together.
A huge hurrah to those who broke with the twin parties of business and elected socialist Kshama Sawant to the Seattle City Council. This is sparking even more interest in examining the causes of poverty, bigotry, and injustice. And it is opening doors to discuss ways to create a society of shared wealth and health for all.
Cheers to women in Albuquerque for defeating an anti-abortion initiative. And hats off to the women in Texas who took over their state capitol to protest anti-abortion legislation.
Give a roar of respect for those who are breaking the silence about sexual assault–from college campuses to within the U.S. military. Daisy Coleman and Paige Parkhurst, two teenagers in Missouri, are heroines who went public after charges were dropped against their attackers so that no one else would "be afraid of speaking out about being sexually assaulted."
Salute and join with indigenous women who are leading the fight to save the earth by blocking logging trucks and fighting oil pipelines, coal trains, fracking, and dam building.
Honor all the women who defy convention globally. Malala Yousafzai, who at age 14 was shot for attending school in Pakistan, braves death threats to agitate for education for all girls. Egyptian and Turkish women have demanded an equal voice in movements for political change. Women by the thousands said "no more"–to rape in India and to the deadly effects of illegal abortion in Ireland.
One or many, old or young, of every race, on every continent, women are not bowing to the attacks on themselves, their families, or their co-workers. They are boldly drawing the line, reaching out to male allies, and stepping up. So let's join together to carry on–the rising of the women means the rising of the whole working class!