We must change culture of oppression in addition to the laws

In light of recent violence I am reminded of the quote from Nikki Giovanni, “The 60s were one big funeral day”. It is hard to know how best to respond to the multiple emotions that communities throughout Pennsylvania and the United States are feeling.

Our nation was founded on very high principles of individual rights and conversely sexism,racism and classism (voting rights were originally for white, property owning whites). We have a long history of interpersonal violence and societial oppressions that effect us today.

What can we as activists do? Often our work is like non violent “wack-a-mole”. We win one battle, like marriage equality and have three more issues of inequality pop up. It can be easy to become discouraged, or to tune out. However, what is needed is the opposite. Advocates must change the culture in addition to the laws.

Pennsylvania NOW works to get feminist legislators elected and support progressive laws, like those of the PA Women’s Health Agenda and we work with allies such as CLUW, AAUW, Making Work Pay PA and Women’s Law Project. All of this is essential but NOW’s biggest impact is in changing the conversation on human rights.

The oppressions of patriarchy and white supremacy plus a fractured and divisiveness political environment can only be countered by an intersectional approach to totally reimagines power, community, freedom and the purpose of politics.

I do not know the answer, but I urge our members, and allies to stay engaged, to support one another and most importantly engage.

Michele Hamilton-President PA NOW