OFFICIAL STATEMENT: Reevaluating Ties to Women’s March, Inc.

We share the concerns of Minnesotans about Women’s March, Inc. (WMI) and the controversy surrounding the national leaders’ connections with those who have engaged in anti-Semitic, anti-woman, and anti-LGBTQ hate speech. We have been asking questions of WMI and working towards accountability and understanding since the news first came to light in conversation. This was done in expectation of learning, growing, improving, and representing the concerns and fear of all women, and gender non-identifying folks. We have not been satisfied with the communication and support from WMI for several months and, for this reason, will be reevaluating our relationship with WMI after the January 19th march.

Many of our Jewish siblings have shared their feelings of fear and disconnection from the march as a result of the actions of WMI, the stories coming out in the media, and the time Women’s March Minnesota took to learn, listen, and understand from WMI and from affected communities as we sought, and continue to seek, an intersectional way forward. However, we have not been clear about this process. We understand that, to some of you, it seemed we were not reacting or listening. We acknowledge the harm we unintentionally caused by not being more transparent about the work that we have been doing to learn and address the issue.

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Women’s March Minnesota is committed to learning and taking action based in intersectional feminism. This in part means that we must always identify the root cause of social justice issues while navigating and addressing the symptoms of the disease. We understand that white supremacy works to erase and revise history. But our education, our work, and the testimony of our communities will always win over that harmful and irresponsible narrative. Antisemitism, for example, is not an issue of the past. Antisemitism is alive and growing. Women’s March MN had not listed Jewish women in our Unity Principles. We apologize for the hurt and fear that may have caused. We believe that it is necessary to explicitly acknowledge the status of Jewish people as an oppressed group. And, as is fundamental with our mission, we recognize the diversity and layered lived experiences in the voices within the Jewish community.

That intersectional feminist commitment has been practiced heavily when addressing this issue over the last several months. We recognize that these issues are nuanced, and that this nuance has been lost in the way that the stories have been covered in social media and in the national media. The importance of acknowledging and fighting against antisemitism, and the voices that have been lost in that call, have been brought to light.

In all of this, there are also issues of racism, white privilege, anti-blackness, and anti-Muslim rhetoric that must be acknowledged. The systematic oppression, physical and emotional trauma, and lack of support and resources that white supremacy and toxic masculinity have built in this country make it very complicated to navigate issues as people who fight for justice. Women and gender non-identifying folks suffer violence, separateness, oppression, and denial of safe spaces every day, and those with intersecting identities often suffer in unacknowledged isolation. We must all continually check privileges and understand the layers of experience and harm as we work to solutions that will bring us together.

We want to be clear that we, Women’s March Minnesota, do not and will not tolerate the language or practice of hate. Women’s March Minnesota launched as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in February 2018. As a separate entity, we have our own board and leadership, independent of Women's March national. We are committed to fighting all forms of oppression as outlined in our Unity Principles. We will not tolerate antisemitism, racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia and we condemn these expressions of hatred in all forms.

Our Women’s March Minnesota community and the 2019 Women’s March in Minnesota is a space dedicated to inclusion, safety, and the celebration of all women, and gender non-identifying people. It is our hope to use this platform to elevate and raise the voices of women, and gender non-identifying siblings who are doing the work of making Minnesota a place where all are welcome, safe, respected, heard, and understood. This includes those who are Jewish, Black, Indigenous, Muslim, disabled, and identify as LGBTQIA.

We are charting a new course into what 2019 looks like for Women’s March Minnesota, what our future looks like, and we want to hear from anyone who feels we could do better. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and check privilege to make change - as an organization and as individuals - and as an intersectional organization, we want our community to come together to work out what it looks like to act in solidarity and strength.

The only true way to make change is to figure this out together. We will be having many community conversations and learning opportunities in 2019, and we hope that you will join us as we decide together what our progressive, inclusive, intersectional future looks like. On January 19th, we are coming together in unity. We extend an open invitation to those who have felt alienated, unsafe, or marginalized in this Women’s March movement. We hope to see you at the march in St. Paul this month or in the future at a community conversation or program.

Jackie Craig