Today, feet hit the pavement along parade routes to celebrate Women’s Equality Day. Just yesterday, the feet that marched down those streets were those of white supremacists. And the weight of that evil makes it a cruel joke to celebrate equality today.
However, the weight of that evil also calls upon us to reconcile this moment in time with our history and our future. The contrast of what happened in Charlottesville with the celebrations of the 19th Amendment demands that we remember our history as nothing less or more than it really was. We must remember that even when women’s right to vote became the law of the land; it did not become the reality of our nation. Literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, violence, and English-only ballots prevented non-white Americans from exercising their Constitutional right to vote. Now, despite the progress made in the near-century since, rollbacks of the Voting Rights Act move equality further out of reach.
We have no option but to understand equality for women cannot now, nor could it ever, be divorced from equality for all marginalized communities. It is wholly inconsistent with the idea equality if we leave people who differ from us behind to defend and prove their humanity.
So today, I won’t celebrate Women’s Equality Day as a solution, an answer, or an end. But I will be grateful for this reminder that we have work to do. I will celebrate the beginning of a journey I embarked upon with women who walk with me and support me, but never waiver from challenging me, in sisterhood and solidarity to get it done.
Two years ago, on Women’s Equality Day, we launched Platform— though at the time we were launching a one-time Convention. We picked this day to announce so that we could never forget our history, as a movement and as a country. Our commitment to Platform is a pledge to never grow complacent, to never forget that we have work to do. For us, Platform was, and always be, a beginning. Platform is the recognition that we have an ability to be a part of something bigger than any one of us and it is a promise to step off the sideline of history. Platform is an understanding that our generation has an ability to affect change and we have a responsibility to take ownership over our democracy and our future.
And Platform’s journey can and will only end when we hit the pavement along parade routes to celebrate equality, without tripping over the legacies of Confederate Flags and Swastikas.