100 Years Later, Some Female Voters Still Suppressed [SOUTHCOAST VOICES]
THIS GUEST OPINION PIECE BY: The Womxn's Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts. See below for a list of submitting authors.
The Womxn’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts is a coalition of community members,
dedicated to antiracism and intersectional feminism, committed to fostering solidarity between
our social justice interests, and engaging the community through accessible and inclusive
Through collaboration, we will lead the way to a stronger sense of solidarity, civic
engagement, and collective action towards systemic change. As an alliance, we value
collaboration, compassion, integrity, perseverance, inclusion and respect the dignity of all
through recognizing intersectionality.
We are an antiracist organization committed to racial justice, equity, equality, and human
decency. We conscientiously use “womxn” to signify our inclusion of cis- and transgender
women, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming individuals.
“Feminism,” according to Black feminist scholar bell hooks, “is a movement to end sexism,
sexist exploitation, and oppression.” Years earlier, Black feminist scholar and activist Angela
Davis proclaimed “in a racist society, it is not enough to be non-racist, we must be antiracist,”
which calls on each of us to actively participate in combating racism in all forms. hooks
reiterates this commitment to intersectionality and antiracism: “There could be no real sisterhood between white women and women of color if white women were not able to divest of white supremacy, if [they] were not fundamentally anti-racist.”
The Womxn’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts is a part of the continued development of an anti-racist feminist movement; to become “stronger,” at hooks’ urging, by committing to “a vision of sisterhood where all our realities could be spoken.”
August 18, 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment,
guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, following decades of agitation and protest by the women’s suffrage movement; one that was comprised of Black, Indigenous, white, poor, working class, middle class, and wealthy women. Yet the ratification of the 19th Amendment was, in practice, a right reserved for white women only. States constructed voter suppression tactics such as poll taxes, literacy tests, and outright intimidation to prevent Black women from voting, and Indigenous women were not considered US citizens until 1924.
Furthermore, many of the white suffragists held racist, white supremacist views; worked against the enfranchisement and freedom of Black women, and played a powerful role in maintaining white supremacy.
The 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment provides us a critical opportunity for reckoning with the women’s suffrage movement’s racist past, and the battle for equality and equity that persists to this day. This reckoning requires an intersectional framework, one that recognizes multiple systems of oppression. As Audre Lorde proclaimed, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own.” The 19th Amendment Suffrage Centennial prompts us to reconsider this cherished history, to unlearn the whitewashed history of the women’s suffrage movement, to critically examine our strategies for achieving equity and equality today, and to commit ourselves to intersectionality and its refusal to treat race, class, gender, sexuality, country of origin, age, and ability as mutually exclusive.
As August 18 marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, it is also a stark reminder
that voting rights are still far from equal, particularly as voter suppression tactics spread across
the country. This anniversary is part of a larger “wake up call” to recognize and address this
growing trend of systemic voter suppression and to commit ourselves to protecting democracy.
Massachusetts has emerged as a leader in the movement for voting by mail; a tested, secure
process which is shown to improve voter turnout by nine percent and, at this current moment, to protect the health of those most at risk of COVID-19. With the MA Vote By Mail Bill, each
Massachusetts registered voter was mailed a ballot application (with return postage) on July 15 and will again on September 14.
● To register/update your registration: registertovotema.com
● Deadline to Register to Vote for the State Primary Election is August 22, 2020
● Download a mail ballot application: mailmyballotma.com
● Deadline to apply for a mailed ballot for the primary election August 26, 2020
● State Primary Election September 1, 2020
Of equal importance this year is the 2020 United States Census. From how people are
represented in government to the distribution of over $675 billion annually in federal funding for schools, hospitals, and roads, federal census data undergirds critical decisions and policies that impact our community each year for ten years. Everybody benefits from a complete count because everybody relies on the funding and policies determined by the census. The census is a matter of racial justice, economic justice, and political equality in the United States. Complete your census today at https://my2020census.gov/login.
The Womxn’s Alliance of Southeastern Massachusetts is a coalition of community members – individuals and individuals representing organizations and businesses – dedicated to antiracism and intersectional feminism. Individuals committed to social justice interests are welcome and encouraged to join. For more information and/or to join, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Rachel Dzengelewski, Women's Fund Southcoast
– Margo Saulnier, Creative Strategist, New Bedford Creative
– Abby Abrahamson, Intern, Women's Fund Southcoast
– Kelley Medeiros, Clinic Director, Health Imperatives
– Margaret McSweeny, Our Sisters' School
– Corinn Williams, Community Economic Development Center
– Dr. Juli Parker, Director, UMass Dartmouth Center for Women, Gender & Sexuality
– Lindsay Carter-Monteiro, President, Martha Briggs Educational Club, Inc.
– Leimary Llopiz (Pronouns: She/Her/Hers), Advocacy Assistant, YWCA Southeastern
– Kristina da Fonseca, Executive Director, SouthCoast Fair Housing
– Yasmin Flefleh-Vincent, Director of Religious Education, The First Unitarian Church in New
– Coalition for Social Justice
– Joanne Murray, Executive Director, Women’s Fund Southcoast
– Soraya DosSantos
– Gail Fortes, Executive Director, YWCA Southeastern MA
– New Bedford Whaling Museum
– Ashley Moore, Director of Education and Community Engagement, Zeiterion Performing Arts
– Rayana Grace, SouthCoast Community Foundation
– YWCA Southeastern MA
– Andrea M. Garr-Barnes, MSW Diversity, Equity, Inclusion Facilitator & Speaker
– Lee Heald, Director, AHA!
– Raquel Dias
– Rhonda M. Fazio
– Iva Brito, Bristol Women's Center
– Lisa Lemieux, President, Greater Southeastern Massachusetts Labor Council
– Jordan Pouliot Latham, Director of Advocacy and Resource Development, YWCA Southeastern MA
– Helena DaSilva Hughes, The Immigrants' Assistance Center, Inc.
Editor's Note: 'SouthCoast Voices' is a series of guest blogs from newsmakers across the region, on relevant issues that directly impact the people of Greater New Bedford and the surrounding communities. The opinions are solely those of the author. If you are interested in contributing, please contact email@example.com for more information.