Today, I guardedly exhaled for a moment in celebration of the inauguration of the Biden-Harris administration and felt joy at the long overdue historic first woman and woman of color Vice President Kamala Harris. Then the anger rushed back into my heart and head. I am angry that the fight to defend democracy, in all its imperfection, is more urgent than ever. Angry because January 6th, 2021 will live forever as the day the white supremacist insurrectionists followed the directions of the President and breached the Capitol carrying the confederate flag through the door-a door so many advocates and survivors of color have patiently waited to be let through. But anger truly turns to rage when I think of all those who have for decades, and who will again once the fury dies down, look away-denying their role in propping up, however indirectly, the racist, misogynistic, and bigoted personal and institutional manifestations, structures, and practices of this “democracy.”
As a country we were destined to end up here from the beginning; our very Constitution was created by, and for, the Founding Fathers-cis white men-with the intentional exclusion of women and people of color. How could we have a true democracy without considering the rights of women-fifty percent of the population-and people of color? Reduced to a few lines in history books, we ignore the reality that the Constitution was based on the structure of government created by the Iroquois Confederacy, in which women wielded the power to influence governance. In contrast, the Constitution embedded in its creation the unequal distribution of rights and opportunities enforced through its laws and systems. Given this history, why should we be surprised that law enforcement, military personnel, corporate executives, and potentially elected officials supported and participated on January 6th?
Recognizing these difficult truths, it is no coincidence that we live in a society marked by racism, sexism, misogyny, xenophobia, heterosexism, ableism, ageism, and classism that disproportionately impact girls and gender-expansive young people.This has been our inheritance: a hierarchy of human value, a term coined by Dr. Gail Christopher, where cis and trans girls and young women, and gender-expansive young people, particularly youth of color, are pushed to the bottom. As a result, generations of girls and gender-expansive young people have and are experiencing epidemic levels of chronic adversity and violence. This deeply embedded injustice is perpetuated implicitly and explicitly by social ideologies and systems that further marginalize, traumatize, punish, and stigmatize them, their families, and their communities.
As a national advocacy organization, National Crittenton is committed to working toward the eradication of all forms of oppression-including their individual, social, and systemic manifestations. These forms of oppression, and the false narratives that underlie them, must be disrupted, dismantled, and replaced with a society that provides support and services grounded in compassion, healing, opportunity, and justice.
We know that this transformation is personal, it is political, and it is complex. After more than a century of focus on girls, young women, and gender-expansive young people, the National Crittenton team is entering 2021 impatient for change; emboldened and unapologetic about our passion for the transformation that must occur. As we launch our new microsite (with more to come) we are choosing hope by channeling our rage into action and we invite you to join us in the journey to achieving social, economic, and political justice with and for girls and gender-expansive young people.