Happy Feminist New Year!! // Jean-Arellia Tolentino

Audre Lorde once stated, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”  In sentiment, I am moved by the concept that “Self care is warfare”.  Last year was rich in struggles and triumphs that further informed this for me.  There are five highlights from 2015 by womyn of color that every feminist could benefit in integrating into their new year’s resolution/intention/vision boarding/life-lesson-growth-goals:
1.    Laverne Cox, resident hairstyling inmate on Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black” became iconic with her #TransIsBeautiful movement for Black trans struggles and injustices in and out of courtrooms. This movement illustrated how to define your own gender by your own terms.  For more inspiration, check out her page: http://www.lavernecox.com/

2.    2015 also reminded us that iconic symbols of deeply seeped oppression hold historic, and very present-day trauma for many of us.  Bree Newsome scaled a South Carolina Statehouse flagpole, and taking down the Confederate flag.  Feminism in 2016 is, not only tearing down the U.S.’s oppressive past, but it’s also about creating new symbols for our future together. For more inspiration, check out her website: http://www.breenewsome.com/

3.    In 2013, the #BlackLivesMatter movement took the U.S. by storm.  From the streets of Oakland to the Baltimore uprising, it became a political force in 2015. With a powerful mobilization of allies and 96 hours of direct action with #Asian4BlackLives and the Third World for Black Lives contingent, 2015 (and already in 2016) tackled a range of pertinent issues like the #SayHerName campaign and Reclaiming Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy. Feminism in 2016 looks like: being better allies to each other, and working in solidarity towards ending oppression.  Not to mention, the co-founders, and many of the grassroots organizer are powerful feminist! For more inspiration, check out their page: http://blacklivesmatter.com/

4.    2015 was also a great year for examples of following your own voice and passions.  There was Malala Yousafzai, the 18-year-old Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner and activist was featured in her own documentary, He Name Me Malala, in 2015 (and, also having time to publicly address presidential candidate Donald Trump for bigoted words toward Muslims and refugees in light of recent terror attacks.)! Also, Nicolle Gonzales, created a one-of-a-kind birth center in the U.S. to serve Native women and families, and Misty Copeland is the first African-American principal dancer in the ballet.  Expressing one’s voice, talents, and passions becomes an inspirational model of following one’s own calling. For more inspiration, check their pages: https://www.malala.org/malalas-story, https://www.facebook.com/thechangingwomaninitiative, http://mistycopeland.com/

5.    If you take anything into 2016, it’s that our youth—our young girls are the future. 2015 taught us that girls are not fragile flowers, or the idiom “playing like a girl” should ever be synonymous with being “weak” (see: US Women’s Soccer Team 2015).  More specifically, 2015 showcased the power of the Radical Brownies.  This powerful group was set up in Oakland, California to empower girls of color and to engage in the community. Unlike the traditional Girl Scouts, these Brownies are not awarded badges for sewing and cooking, but for learning about civil rights and sustainable agriculture. Moreover, there’s also a badge for 'Radical Self Love' and 'LGBT Ally'.  Feminism in 2016 is about instilling young girls with the vision to see themselves as powerful and capable change agents.  For more inspiration, check our their page: https://www.facebook.com/Radical-Monarchs-875969742435827/

We are in the midst of a fourth wave of feminism, and this is the opportunity to redefine Feminism with a bold stance.  From the long overdue June 26th, 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling for same-sex marriages in 50 states to feminist male allies like Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (http://tinyurl.com/hnp9sfx ), these inspirational victories are necessary in keeping us moving in our feminist work for 2016!  The legacy of Audre Lorde’s work illustrated that complex systems within womyns’ lives systematically prevent our ability to “self-care”.  Today, we still face these complexities: from the interpersonal level of shaming each other to the larger systemic injustices like separating undocumented families, creating policies like decreased maternity leave, or Planned Parenthood closures.  It is literally and figuratively warfare when womyn try to self-care.  In the struggle to love one self, and meet one’s basic needs, it is necessary to identify our accomplishments within the feminist movement. 

Here’s to raising each other up, working in solidarity, and working towards equality by equitable means!! Happy 2016!!!

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