At the Empowering Women of Color conference in March this year, I was moved to hear Grace Lee Boggs, in an open dialogue with Angela Davis, say that we must re-imagine everything; change how we think, what we do, to re-invent our society and institutions in order for revolution to happen. And as I listened to female MC and rapper Rocky Rivera give short glimpses into the revolutionary lives of three iconic women activists—Gabriela Silang, Dolores Huerta, and Angela Davis—in the 16 bars of “Heart,” I wondered who would be our next movement builders.
According to a report from United for a Fair Economy—“State of the Dream 2012, the Emerging Majority”—by the year 2030, a majority of U.S. residents under 18 will be youth of color. By 2042, blacks, Latinos, Asians, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, and other non-whites will collectively comprise a majority of the U.S. population. But numbers alone are not enough to shift the political and economic landscape if income and wealth remain overwhelmingly in the hands of a small group of whites. Although there have been many social and economic gains made for all races since the Civil Rights Movement, people of color continue to be left behind. The stark disparities that exist today in wealth, income, education, employment, poverty, incarceration, and health are the remnants of hundreds of years of racial oppression. To create a new world, we must sever the connection between race and poverty.
Excerpted here are the voices of young activistas who redefine what it means to be part of the new majority as women of color. They have chosen to confront the challenges plaguing their communities and build to eradicate institutionalized confines, while engaging in the struggle for social, economic and environmental justice. In their fight for liberation, they embody that famous quote from African American poet June Jordan: “We are the ones we have been waiting for.”
- Viridiana Martinez (ncdreamteam.org) is undocumented, unafraid and unashamed. She is co-founder of the North Carolina Dream Team and a young community organizer and activist for immigrant rights.
North Carolina Dream Team – Download Audio
- Yeashan Banks (peopleorganized.org) is an organizer for the Bayview Hunters Point Organizing Project at People Organized to Win Employment Rights (POWER). For the last year or so, she’s also been advocating for free public transportation for youth.
Young Organizer Advocates for Transit Power – Download Audio
- Favianna Rodriguez (favianna.com) is a celebrated printmaker and digital artist based in Oakland, California. Her composites, created using high-contrast colors and vivid figures reflect literal and imaginative migration, global community, and interdependence.
Women of Color in the Movement – Download Audio
- Smita Nadia Hussain (chaaweb.org) is a poet, blogger and photographer who serves in leadership capacities for local young Democrat and API organizations, including Community Health for Asian Americans (CHAA), the English Center and the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum (NAPAWF). She recently traveled with Habitat for Humanity to build homes in Vietnam.
South Asian Freedom Fighters and Refugees – Download Audio
- Shanelle Matthews (shanellematthews.com) does online media communications for Forward Together, advocating for women of color and families on the margins who have strategically been left out of the socio-political debate on reproductive health and rights.
Reproductive Health – Download Audio
- Rocky Rivera (rockyrivera.com) is a hip hop journalist by day and MC by night who found international acclaim by winning a Contributing Editor position on MTV’s docu-series, “I’m From Rolling Stone” (2007).
Misogyny and Women Revolutionaries – Download Audio
- Ya-Ting Liu (transalt.org) is a federal advocate for the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and also the campaign manager for Rider Rebellion at Transportation Alternatives.
Transportation Justice – Download Audio
- Theresa Q. Tran (miroundtable.org) is a youth program specialist at the Michigan Roundtable for Diversity and Inclusion. She received her M.A. in Social Work at the University of Michigan where she studied community organizing with youth and families.
Youth Diversity and Ethnic Studies
- Raquel Nunez (lvejo.org) is a youth organizer for Little Village Environmental Justice Organization.
Sustainability and the Environment
Christine Joy Ferrer is the design and publishing editor for RP&E and founder of eyesopenedblog.com. Special thanks to Irene Florez (ireneflorez.wordpress.com) who helped to engineer and produce the podcast. Florez is a radio producer at KPFA, Berkeley, California. Music Interludes: “Joe Metro” by Blue Scholars and “Heart” by Rocky Rivera.