Welcome to another edition of Feminist Friday! That part of the week where we gather around our virtual water coolers and fangirl over a handful of videos, centered around an intersectional feminist theme. This week it’s all about voting, and specifically, the importance of women’s votes and their ability to shape the country, and how those rights were gained throughout history.
August saw the 100th commemoration of the 19th Amendment, which enshrined the right of white women to vote. Sure, it was a huge step forward, but one that left out women of color and exemplified how racism has been embedded into a number of American systems, even those that have typically been thought of as inclusive.
To get an idea of why this history is important, Vox put together this excellent explainer for the anniversary of the 19th Amendment.
“On this landmark 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage, historians Martha S. Jones and Daina Ramey Berry reflect on what the 19th Amendment means for Black American women. The women’s suffrage movement was a predominantly white cause, one that sacrificed the involvement of Black suffragists in return for support for the 19th Amendment from Southern states. The 1920 legislation enfranchised all American women, but it left Black women, particularly those living in the South, to fight racial discrimination when registering to vote and going to the polls. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that this type of racial discrimination was prohibited by federal law. The voting rights fight is still not over, however. There’s evidence that restrictions to voting disproportionately affect minority populations — measures like voter ID laws, voting purges, gerrymandering, and closing polling locations,” says the video description.
The second video comes from Be Woke Vote, a social media philanthropic initiative to encourage non-voters to vote and young people to discuss political issues affecting our communities. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, they released a video called #LadiesBeWoke, featuring Kim Kardashian, Maxine Waters, Chelsea Handler, Blac Chyna, Zulay Henao, Erika Alexander, Robert F. Smith and more.
The organization is holding a number of events from now until the presidential election on November 3 to encourage people to use their right to vote and also helping to register people to vote.
In order to move forward, we must acknowledge the past and work on the issues that presently stand before us. One of those is to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act, something which Georgia Congressmen and Civil Rights activist John Lewis pushed for before his death recently. The House of Representatives passed it, but it is now up to the Senate, and the current or next president to complete the process. This push happened after the Supreme Court invalidated key parts of the Voting Rights Act in the 2015 case Shelby County v Holder.
The right to vote isn’t just for us, but an acknowledgement that we are fighting so that those who are still disenfranchized can gain their rights as well. Watch the Be Woke Vote below:
The final video this week is a heartwarming 2 minute clip of Duchess Megan Markle interviewing feminist activist and author Gloria Steinem, in the Duke and Duchess’ new home in Los Angeles where they recently moved to.
Produced by Makers Women, the two iconic women discuss representation, why each vote matters and how all women “are linked, not ranked.”
“If you don’t vote, you don’t exist”, says Gloria in the interview, the full version of which you can read here.
Throughout the discussion they spoke of the disenfranchisement of black and brown women’s votes, noting how they have been fighting for decades to be treated as full and equal citizens in the United States.
“There was a Native Alaskan named Elizabeth Peratrovich who fought for and ensured the passage of the 1945 Anti-Discrimination Act, and she said: ‘Asking you to give me equal rights implies that they are yours to give. Instead, I must demand that you stop trying to deny me the rights that all people deserve’,” said Megan.
They also recognized how important it is to not just celebrate the 19th Amendment on its face, but to continually talk about the women who were left out 100 years ago.
“We keep saying that women won the right to vote in 1920, which is true, it was the beginning. But Native American women came later, Asian American women came later, African American women only came really mostly with the Voting Rights Act in 1965,” said Gloria.
Watch the short video shared on Instagram below: