This Is Our Selma: Why I Fight For Voting Rights

>>462145453_f14c6548e7_oTwo years ago, I became one of more than 1,000 people arrested for civil disobedience as part of the Moral Monday Movement.

I was protesting the extremist conservative majority in the NC General Assembly that was attacking everything that I love about North Carolina. They restricted access to abortion and contraception, attacked public education and the environment, raised taxes on low income people to give tax cuts to the wealthy, refused to expand Medicaid, reduced unemployment benefits, and passed the country’s worst-ever voter suppression bill (HB 589).

This month the legal case against the voter suppression bill finally went to court. And when the call went out to join the Mass Moral March for Voting Rights in Winston-Salem on July 13th to support the challenge to the bill, I knew I would go. Here’s why.

I went as a feminist. You know, one of those people who, as the adage says, has the “radical notion that women are equal.” Here’s a stark fact: almost 2/3 of voters who do not have approved ID’s are women!  (Voter ID is just one of the provisions of HB 589.) More women vote and women are more likely to vote for progressive candidates. There is no question in my mind that HB 589 was designed to disenfranchise people of color, young people, and women.

I went as a feminist committed to fusion politics. I believe that there is no “one size fits all” feminism and we cannot separate women’s rights from other issues of oppression and justice, including poverty, racism, and LGBT rights. The Moral Monday movement is the embodiment of fusion politics, bringing together a broad spectrum of progressive issues and demographic groups — age, race, gender, sexual orientation, class, faith, even political orientation.

I went as a feminist committed to fighting racism. I believe that white women have a special obligation to push back against racism. Dylann Roof’s statement, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country,”  brought into sharp focus the connection between white supremacy and male supremacy. I went to honor the black women raped by white men. I went to honor the black men lynched or imprisoned by racists hiding behind white womanhood. I went to say to Dylann Roof, as others have, “Not in my name.”

I went as a feminist committed to raising the visibility of women in the justice discussion. For example, when President Obama spoke at the NAACP convention last week, he focused on black men and boys in prison. But the number of women in prison has increased by 800 percent in the last 30 years and girls – many of them girls of color who have been sexually abused – make up the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system. When we talk about minimum wage, let’s remember that 2/3 of minimum wage workers are women. When we talk about Medicaid expansion, let’s keep in mind that 200,000 women in NC are still uninsured. And when we talk about cuts to public education, let’s not forget that a woman in our state needs a college degree to make as much as a man with a high school diploma.

Finally, I went as an optimist. I embrace Krista Tippett’s concept of turning “>>white fragility into courageous imperfection“. The Moral Monday movement welcomes people coming together in a spirit of friendship and good will, knowing that we will learn from each other. We agree with Dr. King that the arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. We embrace the promise of 
a multi-racial movement demanding a just society — without the shadow of fear. We march forward together to make that happen.

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