This weekend’s Women’s March is set against the longest government shutdown in history.
The choice is stark: a multiracial movement led by women to usher in a new day versus an immoral Administration holding the country hostage in order to build a racist, anti-immigrant wall and avoid oversight by the newly elected Democratic House that we fought so hard for.
This is why I will be marching along with other Jewish women of color and allies, and why Bend the Arc is an official partner of the March.
We know that there are a variety of strongly held views within our community this year, so I want to share why we are participating and invite you to reflect and participate with us. This Saturday, January 19th, there is a march in DC, a march in NYC, and marches in cities across the country. Join us if it’s within your Shabbat practice.
Only when people who dream of justice unite in solidarity can we defeat white nationalism. The Women’s March is an intersectional movement that has played an essential role in fighting for our collective safety.
Their north star is ours — a future where our immigrant loved ones are no longer deported, our Black loved ones are no longer incarcerated or killed, our Muslim loved ones are no longer banned, and our Jewish loved ones are safe from the rise of antisemitic violence.
It’s why a group of Jewish Women of Color marching this weekend, led by Yavilah McCoy (a Board Member of Bend the Arc), put out a letter stating:
As Jewish women of color, we support the unity principles of the Women’s March and believe that this is the time for our communities to affirm together that women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights ...
We welcome Jewish women, and all groups who have experienced the pain of not being fully seen and held by our movement work, to actively participate in building liberatory structures and processes that include us and welcome us to ask for and get what we need to be free.
At the same time, we acknowledge and understand the tremendous pain that many Jews feel around the conversations about the Women’s March and antisemitism.
Some of my fellow Jewish women may choose not to participate as a result. Their anguish is real — there can be no progressive, intersectional movement that includes antisemitism of any kind.
I have directly seen the ways in which the leadership of the Women’s March have both privately and publicly grappled with these issues, and I am buoyed by their many public commitments to fight antisemitism, as well as the updated unity principles. This movement is bigger than any one leader, and will grow and evolve only if we continue to build relationships without the fear or threat of walking away.
And thus I will be marching. As a black Jewish woman I must show up for others, even as I show up for myself, and because only a united, unbreakable movement that grows with love will achieve the change we need.
There is still much work to do to root out antisemitism and all forms of discrimination and oppression from our society, including from progressive spaces.
I invite us to resist the urge to separate ourselves in moments of pain and frustration — to instead reach for one another and commit ourselves to building an inclusive, multi-racial democracy that understands our trauma and needs, and the trauma and needs of others. Indeed, in addition to our protest tradition, one of the most effective ways that we change hearts and minds is through empathy and respect, which is impossible to do if we are not in conversation.
On January 19, I and others will march as women and as Jews — who are ourselves a diverse multiracial and multi-ethnic community — to show that we reject Trump’s hatred and the spineless leaders who enable him.
We will march alongside millions to show our shared commitment to dismantle systems of oppression and build a more equitable, just society where all of us can live, love, and thrive.
On January 19, the forces of progress will take the streets, and the forces of white nationalism will face another reckoning.
Chief Strategy Officer, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action
P.S. I also invite you to read in full the powerful open letter from #JWOCmarching (Jewish women of color marching), which you can sign on to here.