#TIMESUP deserves all the kudos

-edited

I respond to critiques of last night's actions at the Golden Globes

I missed any negative commentary about #TIMESUP last night because I was too busy tweeting the hell out of this amazing cultural intervention that our friends pulled off. But upon waking, I see from Malkia Devich Cyril and Alicia Garza's timelines that there was enough to be concerning. Even without digging for these critiques, I know what they say because this isn't my first walk around the block.

* This is not real action because it involves fancy clothes and a party
* Celebrities are not really committed to ending patriarchy/racism/violence
* This changes no policy or conditions on the ground
* These women couldn’t possibly be connected to suffering women in actual communities
* And this old stand by -- Why these women? Why do they get all the money/attention/kudos?

I’m going to respond this one time and then no more because serious threats are looming and we’ve all got other work to do.

Last night, Alicia asked on her Facebook timeline what we think is required to build a movement in the millions. In my humble 33-year view of social change, I think it takes EVERYTHING. Everything we’ve got. Every member, every leader, every ally, every platform, every tactic and every dime – all directed toward specific goals at specific moments. Those moments where you can take your ideas big don’t come around that often. When they do, we have to move. We can’t predict what will come out of each tactic, but we move fast and big and on faith.

This was one of the most effective actions I’ve seen in those 33 years, pulled off by some of the best organizers I’ve ever known, and I’ve known a lot. The message discipline was unbelievable. The call to action made it so much more than “raising awareness.” I mean, they organized the one and only Oprah to give one of the best social justice speeches I have ever seen, for pity’s sake. I know that it took dozens of people months of work to make this happen. Just my tweets alone had some 150,000 impressions.

Some activists don't want any of our campaigns to reach millions of people because if they did, that meant they had gone mainstream and been stripped of meaning. Well, I’m grateful for some historic victories. The weekend. Clean water. The right to vote. I would not have these things if someone’s organizing and art hadn’t gotten to millions of people. These policies have to be protected and expanded for sure but the notion that we should keep our ideas out of the mainstream so they don’t get corrupted is a head-in the-sand cowering, not the basis of a social change strategy. Others say that celebs are too shallow to do much beyond sartorial protest, and to that I say, so what? Most humans are too shallow to do more than the bare minimum on anything. I'll take that shallow action over nothing any day. The artists who organized last night, among them the intrepid and committed Reese Witherspoon and America Ferrera, are going to show up again and again. I don't doubt that even a little bit.

And let’s talk about the organizers – Saru Jayaraman, Ai-jen Poo, Tarana Burke, Rosa Clemente, Monica Ramirez, and so many others. These are women who have given their lives to social justice, to the fullest form of feminism. Tarana Burke has been organizing girls of color with tiny, tiny resources for decades until like six months ago. In fact, the resources are probably still pretty tiny. Are we really going to hate on her for organizing celebs and going to the Golden Globes? Come on, people. I understand envy – I feel its twinges too because I am human and a Scorpio to boot. But I let that shit out to my mother or bestie or therapist and then I get on the bus. Because everything is required now. Not tomorrow, after I’ve read the critiques and decided whether or not I can support, but now.

That's all I've got. I hope it's enough to redirect our energies toward organizing the millions we need to end violence and abuse in the workplace. #TIMESUP

Comments
No. 1-8
Rinku
Rinku

Editor

Clarifying that the part about envy at the end was about organizers being envious of other organizers, not us being jealous of the actors.

Rinku
Rinku

Editor

Replying here to praxedis and anonymousfornow as I can't yet on this system reply to specific comments. Thank you both for your posts. Praxedis, I do refer to the Left in the Nation piece, but I didn't write the headline (editor's job), and I would have done that differently. I'm not sure what you mean about the 33 years being misleading. That's how long I've been in the work. Don't think I needed to mention it twice, but there it is. Anonymousfornow, I am sorry to hear about your family's troubles, and yes, often women and children do carry the burden disproportionately. Your perspective is valuable and I pray (and will work so) that the system develops ways to address misconduct without increasing that burden. I really appreciate your willingness to share. I know it must be scary.

anonymousfornow
anonymousfornow

I loved your article. That is until the very end. I loved hearing how resources are being allocated to those who need them most, but what was meant to be funny, seemed trite and very painful to me. I’m not envious of these celebrities; I am desperate for their resources. Let me explain. My husband lost his job for sexual misconduct. And my children and I lost everything. We are not wealthy and can’t support ourselves like in the high profile cases. We lost our income, our home, our health insurance and everything that makes us feel safe and secure. I am cool to suffer for the movement. But my children? It causes me a great deal of pain and helplessness not to be able to protect them. And here’s the truth, in crises you don’t always get what you need- I can’t call my mother, she is suffering too. I can’t call my therapist; because I just lost my health insurance. I can’t call my friends as much as I should, because I have just spent the last six years of my life in the throes of raising young children and have neglected friendships. Not to mention I have neglected my career. My husband risked everything that also belonged to me. For all of our progress, we still live in a world where being a caregiver is not a valid career choice. There is no safety net for my kids. I have lost years of income and can’t support three kids on my own at my current income. Their father will likely have a very hard time gaining employment because we can’t explain this situation away in the new, and better world we live in. Nor should we. And I mean that. This is a better world, and it is getting so much better. Movements are often fast and furious and they leave a wake of suffering. But should they? In that way critiques are good, it helps us be better and work harder. I struggled with whether or not to comment, as speaking up about my situation puts my family at great risk, since we are still dependent on their father’s possible future income. Also at play are the feelings and privacy of his victim. I don’t want to cause anymore pain and suffering by sharing our story. Our burden should NEVER be theirs. Believe me, I would rather do this anonymously, to protect all of our privacy and I hope those reading this will respect us during this very difficult time.

But then I realized, there must be more people like me. And maybe even worse off. (I’m lucky enough to be living with my in-laws for now.) And maybe we can help them. But right now, my critique is that some people, may be even celebrities, are still naive to to that fact that the burden of the movement is falling back on women to pick up pieces. I know I will be strong enough to do it, eventually, but for now some of those resources sure would be great. I will not let my children be collateral damage for the movement. I will fight for them. They are minors. We did nothing wrong and this is happening to #themtoo.

praxedis
praxedis

I also applaud the work of the organizers and supporters of #timesup. I do think that in order to have a non-"binary" view of looking at social justice, we also need to listen to those who have specific and valid critiques. The bullet points you seem to want to deflect are all valid concerns. I think it's possible to support the efforts and also continue to have concerns and want to continue to improve and that does involve bringing people together.

I was brought here from the version of this post at The Nation. You refer in that article to the people who have concerns as "lefties." Not productive or helpful. It's a little demeaning, actually. You also reference your "33 years of social-justice work." I think that's also a little misleading.

Thanks for your viewpoint on this.

BIBOLOVE
BIBOLOVE

BIBOLOVE🌍Thank you Rinku for your transparency your wisdom of 33 years as an activist and your call to action no matter how small My mama used to say a little is a lot💙❤️💚💛❤️The power in the People✊🏿✊🏾✊🏽✊✊🏼✊🏻BIBOLOVE🌍

Stories