Reflecting on Black History Month

Happy Black History Month!

As we close out this time of reflection on and appreciation for the contributions that African Americans have made to all aspects of the American experience, including economically, and in society and culture, I hope that you had an opportunity to see NWPC California’s moments of commemorations, particularly as we attempted to give extra light to the role and influence of Black women in the political landscape. Check them out on our social media feeds (InstagramTwitterFacebook).

Normally, February is the time that NWPC California hosts our first in-person board meeting in Sacramento. Under normal circumstances, the 2-day meeting would provide a wonderful opportunity to see friends, celebrate the accomplishments and address wounds of the previous term, and enthusiastically set a path for the next term. 

But, these are not normal times.

Of course, we didn’t give up on our strategic planning, we did what women do: we adapted. Using the tools at our disposal (namely Zoom and Google Drive), and a great deal of patience and flexibility, the state board met virtually last weekend to strategize and set goals for the 2021-2022 cycle. It was an incredibly productive and inspirational weekend, that included a visit from newly elected Monterey County Board of Supervisors chair Wendy Root Askew. We emerged from the meetings with a full schedule of trainings, activities, and events. We were enthusiastic and optimistic about the road ahead and it almost felt like normal, except that we all agreed that COVID exposed an important reality:

We don’t want to go back to normal, because normal was bad for women.

The reality is that the COVID pandemic, as well as the “she-cesssion” (the economic crisis that disproportionately impacted women) and reckoning on racial inequality that it created, exposed the catastrophe of women’s progress. Despite the accomplishment of electing a woman of African and Asian American descent as Vice President, women’s progress has slowed and, in some cases, taken a backward slide.

We came away from our meetings in agreement that we can no longer be satisfied with incremental progress. The COVID pandemic drove home the reality that incremental progress is too tenuous for women. As legislative bodies contend with budgets and policies that focus on addressing the catastrophes of the pandemic, we must be a voice for demanding that the needs of women, and particularly women of marginalized communities who disproportionately bear the impact of these times, be front and center. We cannot be content with going back to normal, because normal was bad for women.

In the coming term, we will continue our work supporting women who are running for office and seeking appointments on boards and commissions to help change laws and policy.

In addition, we will work with our local caucuses to push policies and legislation that centers on women and in ways that are intersectional and equitable. We came away from our meetings enthusiastic that we will use the experiences of COVID to define the new normal for women as forwarding progress rather than going back to normal. Be sure to check out our website for a summary of our meetings and upcoming activities so that you can join us in this work. As always, I look forward to seeing you on the frontlines.

In sisterhood and solidarity,
Karriann Farrell Hinds
NWPC California

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