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