There is no getting around it – this last year has been tremendously hard. We have lost so much and so many. But amidst that loss, we have also gained new perspectives, and practices, and new understandings and opportunities.
Reflecting Back, Looking Forward
Last March after my partner Jenny and I started sheltering in place, my dining room table became my new office. I spent a Monday signing off on a new round of grants to our core partners so they could simply afford to buy laptops and Zoom accounts to ride out the stay-at-home orders. I spent my Wednesday on back-to-back zoom meetings with allies strategizing on how to respond to the huge spike we were seeing in domestic violence rates across the state. Then I closed out the week working to convince the Governor’s office that not everyone was safer at home, and planting the seeds for what would become our $50M Relief and Resilience Fund.
As a result of those conversations, we worked side-by-side with the Governor’s Office and the Blue Shield, Stuart, and Levi Strauss Foundations as well as many individual donors to provide funding to every single domestic violence shelter in California. As it has for so many issues, the pandemic shed light on an old problem in a new way. We haven’t yet solved the intersecting challenges of gender-based violence and housing insecurity, but we have changed the context and the narrative and we know we have the potential to change our culture away from violence and towards safety. From the New York Times to Glamour magazine – the issue of domestic violence is part of the public discourse in a way that is unprecedented.
The Opportunity in this Moment
More people are tuned into the issues we’ve been working on for decades: a mom who has had her fourth meeting of the day on Zoom is interrupted by her 5-year-old and she’s ready to take action for affordable child care for everybody. She joins legions of women -especially women of color- on the frontlines of work and home who need better options.
A first time voter in LA this November, got to cast their ballot with racial justice in mind to put nearly one billion dollars towards community health and safety. And they got to vote for Madam Vice President. And they got to put Holly Mitchell in office on the first all women board of County Supervisors.
More people are asking: How are we caring for the people who are taking care of our people?
There is opportunity. There is momentum. And we are challenged to do more, recognizing that we’re all a part of the continuum of women’s experiences. How can our interconnected feminism create a bigger vision for what is possible? And, how will we continue to meet this moment?
Feminism Requires Collective Action
Part of the answer to that question is that we will find our way together. Feminism requires collective action and it demands an intersectional approach. We must radically challenge anti‐blackness, anti Asian hate, and liberal white supremacy as they manifest in our lives.
Our opportunity now is to build the California we want and that we all deserve. And we do that work in partnership. As a publicly supported foundation, we are accountable to the community leaders we support and to the community of donors who trust us to steward their resources. Together, we are reimagining and redesigning a feminist future for California.
Among the many things I have learned over the past year is that there is no going back to normal. Building “back” to a day-to-day experience, economy, and political system that did not center the needs of our communities but perpetuated patriarchy, white supremacy, and capitalism is not the aspiration.
Rebuilding + Reshaping California
I hope we are all seeing light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. In that light let’s hold strong to what we do want and know is possible.
Together, let’s rebuild a feminist economy for California that celebrates life and creates thriving communities. Let’s reshape our laws and our communities to put the wellbeing and safety of Black and brown people at the center of what we do and how we do it. We know that whatever comes next, women and gender nonconforming folks, Black and brown people, and those who are closest to problems are ready with the solutions we need to build a feminist future in California and beyond.
One of the many ways to support our feminist future is to join The Continuum – our community of monthly donors who support our work together at Women’s Foundation California and invest in our collective strength. Whether you give $5 or $500, when you join the Continuum, you ensure organizations led by women, people of color, and gender non-conforming folks have the resources they need to realize lasting solutions across California.