Beirut, Paris, Baghdad, Syria... Too many communities torn by violence. We grieve with the families and communities hurt. Amidst the senseless and inevitable clamors for more war, the many gestures of solidarity that ripple across social media remind us of our common humanity and the enduring demand for peace.
Against this dark backdrop, there are promising signs of light and change as a whole new generation of activists and movement formations roll into action—demanding to be heard as they rise up against inequality, austerity, racism, corruption, state violence and inaction. And they’re succeeding in getting on the agenda and gaining concessions from reluctant power holders—while continuing to strategize on how to sustain change against backlash. Students in South Africa mobilize and defy water cannons to stop the
rising cost of school fees while the accompanying twitter campaign, #FeesMustFall triggers mobilizations by students in the UK and USA who have been simmering with these issues for years. In the Guatemala article
below, students mobilized an unexpected cross-section of society against corruption, giving energy to the long-time battles of human rights and social movements with (#RenunciaYa - Resign now)—forcing President Pérez Molina to resign. #BlackLivesMatter continues to catalyze activism from Ferguson to the University of Missouri and around the globe—placing institutionalized racism and injustice firmly in the American media and political conversation.
Women are at the forefront of these mobilizations and feminism is woven tightly into the intricate webs of ideas and strategies unfolding. When Africa Is a Country compiled an eleven minute video on #FeesMustFall, they interviewed seven women leaders some of whom highlight the influences of afro-feminism, black consciousness and
anti-imperialism. While #BlackLivesMatter is often described as a “leaderless” movement and largely framed by the bodies of slain black men and boys, women of color are at the heart of this movement where again, fresh forms of feminism mix to create new ideas about democracy as lived and demanded. And as the world prepares for another critical round of climate talks, women are on the forefront of climate justice efforts—both pushing governments to take meaningful action and confronting the impacts on their lives and communities as illustrated by Southeast Asia article below.
These are the rays of light that motivate us and remind us that solidarity is the antidote to violence and hate. Not war, but solidarity mobilized for peace.
Stay inspired. Stay together. Keep organizing!
Lisa VeneKlasen & the JASS community