A Women’s Equality Day Wish List

Note: Some of this has been amended from the KFW Hot Flash weekly newsletter that went out Friday, Aug. 24.

In 1971 the U.S. Congress designated August 26 as Women’s Equality Day. The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote after nearly 100 years of organized protest. Although women in some states and localities had been voting, it took a Constitutional Amendment for that right to be recognized for all women in the United States.

As we know, however, the amendment didn’t extend to black women or to black men.

Today, we still see fragmented equality. Access to healthcare, education, and even clean air varies depending on what state and sometimes what neighborhood a woman lives in. Single black women have a median wealth value of $100 while single white women’s median wealth stands at $41,000. The poverty rates for Hispanic and Native American women are 25 percent and 26.4 percent, respectively, while it’s 10% for white women. Women of color have disproportionately higher rates of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, hypertension, and certain forms of cancer, and also have increased mortality rates for certain forms of cancer.

These examples of fragmented equality are why I think many black women still aren’t hip to feminism. White women get gains, sometimes as a result of the true freedom black people have demanded for themselves, and black women stay behind. White women end up with TV shows with no black people in the cast and with rich white woman problems poor black women can’t relate to, like giving up a national foreign policy position to return to a tenured professor job and spend more time with your children and husband.

Nonetheless, I see the fight for women’s equality as black women’s–and men’s–fight, too. We’re all being damaged by America’s worship of masculinity, and black women usually end up getting the worst of it. And given the many feminists I know who also fight racism, I know they see that the spoils of war in this fight for equality haven’t been evenly distributed.

I’m grateful for partners in the fight, but by next Women’s Equality Day, I want to see a groundswell of black women as excited about feminism as they are about racial justice. I want them tired of being on the bottom and ready to use their collective strength and power to demolish sexism, racism and the greed that drives much of world policy.

In addition to that, I wish that:

  1. Every woman loved being a woman.
  2. Girls and women never bullied or fought one another, at any age.
  3. Every woman were secure in her sexuality, in her personal finances and in her health.
  4. There were no double standards about sexual activity.
  5. Teen pregnancy would be wiped out.
  6. Access to all safe family planning choices, including abortion, are legal and unrestricted, in every state in the U.S. and all over the world. 
  7. Being born with a vagina wasn’t seen as a great disappointment or a curse in some parts of the world.
  8. No woman would ever experience intimate partner abuse or sexual assault.
  9. Everyone who wants to enter into what I’ve heard is one of the hardest commitments in the world—marriage—can.
  10. Everyone, but especially rich people, would stop acting like there isn’t enough currency or resources to go around. Just stop being stingy. Real talk: Just stop being stingy.
  11. The USA would face, accept and make genuine amends for its foundation of misogyny and white supremacy.
  12. All black men would pull their pants up.
  13. All black men would feel useful and purposeful and would behave accordingly.
  14. All black men would join me in making these wishes come true.
  15. Men and women of all races, nationalities, persuasions, etc. who don’t see this list as crucial to the future of humanity would go kick rocks. On another planet.
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