- Gabrielle Galchen
Friday June 26th, 2020: The Intersectional Feminism Project
The message of feminism is simple: the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes. As women are of all different ethnicities, races, sexualities, economic statuses, and nationalities, one would assume that all feminists are intersectional feminists as well.
However, intersectional feminism is currently classified as a type of feminism; in fact, the feminist movement has historically excluded women of color. Today, in comparison to white women, women of color have higher mortality rates due to inadequate health care, receive lower wages, have lower educational attainment rates, and are more likely to experience harassment and sexual assault.
On June 26, the Bipartisan Feminist Project hosted a webinar about Intersectional Feminism. Many speakers were from Sisters Circle, an organization which provides long-term mentoring to empower young women of color and prepare them for the future.
“Our goal is to provide exposure to experiences that the mentees might not have otherwise had,” Stephanie Radday, the Director of Middle School Programs, describes. “We empower girls to explore their own identities and to express themselves.”
After undergoing an extensive training program, the mentors in Sisters Circle make a seven year commitment to their mentees beginning in the mentee’s 6th grade year. 90% of the mentees are black or African American, and 52% of the mentors are white; as such, an important part of the mentor's training is on white identity and how white women can support women of color. Mentors meet their mentees twice each month, one meeting of which is a monthly Sisters Circle event. These workshops range from fun activities like cooking and theater productions to important discussions about issues relating to teenage girls like social media, body image, college preparations, or healthy relationships.
Cydnee Martin, a mentee at Sisters Circle, described her experience with an almost tangible smile in her eyes: “We have grown so much and had opportunities there that we know a lot of girls don’t always receive; we are so lucky and very appreciative of what we have.”
Another speaker was Sophie, the founder of the NYC Youth Collective. She believes that it is the youth who must be most informed about current social justice issues: “I know people three times my age who don’t know about the issues black and brown people face, and don’t care to know. But kids want to know everything. We need to bring the message in a kid-friendly way to young people.”
She is currently focusing on advocating for cutting funds from the police - as in, redistribute funding to homeless shelters, youth development programs, hospitals, and education. She believes that the most underrepresented groups, for instance, disabled black trans women, should be at the forefront of the feminist and Black Lives Matter movements.
Morgan Bates, a pastor and mass motivator, was the last speaker. Having lived in a segregated community in Alabama while attending an integrated school, he says he understands that “it’s very difficult to acquire a conviction about something you haven’t experienced yourself.” As such, he has given inspiring speeches in 80+ nations to add new perspectives to a variety of audiences.
“You can’t offer systemic change but you can listen. Be aware of what people who aren’t like you are facing,” he reiterated.
Besides self-educating, he believes that everyone can use their gifts to advocate for intersectional feminism and spread the word about anger, privilege, and politics, whether it be as writers, actors, social media advocates, or protesters. The fight against racism is a multifaceted approach taking place in everyday life, not simply on the ballot.
This inspiring webinar was recorded and will soon be available on our website. We highly recommend you check it out!