Taking the High Road
by asherrem, Fri Apr 25, 2008 at 11:45:20 PM EDT
Suzanne Pharr is an organizer, political strategist, founder of the Women's Project in Arkansas, co-founder of Southerners on New Ground, and ardent feminist.
I am currently majoring in Human and Family Development Studies with a concentration on Women's Studies (I hope to become a Social Worker) and discovered Suzanne through a Women's Studies course I took a few semesters ago. She has since become a woman I deeply admire.
During my short time here at MyDD, I have frequently come across cries of sexism and misogyny that are, in my opinion, unwarranted. While I largely attempt to stay out of "candidate" diaries, I have felt the need, on occasion, to speak out on those comments. In a nutshell, I've been told in no uncertain terms that I am wrong and was even told to "get educated."
I freely admit I am not an expert. I am merely working toward a degree that I hope will enable me to help women and children. There is a personal reason, for that of course. I endured 18 years of emotional abuse from a woman who should have known better than to have children and a system that does not allow children to have rights failed me.
I know what it feels like to be called a whore at the age of ten. I know what it feels like when cries of molestation go unanswered. I know how it feels when my boobs are more important than my brain. I know what it feels like to be a victim and a woman. But I don't expect everyone to agree with me.
Classism, racism, sexism...these are all real problems and so many sit here and attempt to marginalize them. Sexism is not about Hillary Clinton and racism is not about Barack Obama. There is so much more that unites us than divides us.
From `Taking the High Road' by Suzanne Pharr
In the mid-1990's, we are seeing a rapid rise of mean-spiritedness, fed by radio and television, the rhetoric of cynical politicians, and the embittered disillusionment of people whose lives feel threatened. It is a mean-spiritedness that seems to feed upon itself, seeking everywhere someone to blame, someone who is the cause of this pain, this disappointment, this failure to succeed. The airwaves are filled with rancor and anger, cynicism and accusation. Recently, I have been asking people to describe the mood of the country. They respond, "depressed, angry, overwhelmed, feeling isolated and cut off, mistrustful, mean, hurt, fearful." To succeed, our organizing must address these feelings.
Suzanne is describing the mid-1990's here, and dare I say it, not much has changed.
As progressive and moderate voices are excluded or silenced or mimic this rage and cynicism, I worry about our better selves diminishing from lack of nurturance or support. I think of our better selves as that place where our compassion, sympathy, empathy, tolerance, inclusiveness, and generosity reside.
The theocratic Right has been successful in driving wedges between oppressed groups because there is little common understanding of the linkages common to all oppressions. Progressives have contributed to these divisions because, generally, we have dealt only with single pieces of the fabric of injustice. Often we have no knowledge of a shared history. We stand ready to be divided. Our challenge is to learn how to use the experiences of our many identities to forge an inclusive social change politics. The question that faces us is how to do multi-issue coalition-building from an identity base. The hope for multiracial, multi-issue movement rests in large part on the answer to this question.
When we grasp the value and interconnectedness of our liberation issues, then we will at last be able to make true coalition and begin building a common agenda that eliminates oppression and brings forth a vision of diversity that shares both power and resources.
Read Suzanne Pharr's blog at http://suzannepharr.org/