Photo by Holly Santman
BY HOLLY SANTMAN
The “Women Makin’ Moves” panel focused on social justice movements, activists and how women, specifically women of color, are erased from many of the movements taking place today.
The panel took place on March 8, which is recognized as International Women’s Day. It featured women working with different organizations around the Des Moines area, including Terry Hernandez, a representative from the Chrysalis Foundation, and Dr. Jennifer Harvey, a professor of religion at Drake.
The event was put on by Student Senate and was organized and led by Bakari Caldwell and his student committee. As the community outreach senator, Caldwell said one of his goals is to break the “Drake bubble.”
“This university is a guest of Des Moines, and it’s not the other way around,” Caldwell said.
The women on the panel answered questions surrounding their work, inspirations and journeys, as well as how students can get involved and become social justice activists. Harvey responded strongly to one question about whether or not women get erased from movements and how this can be seen today.
“My first thought was, of course, women of color get erased,” Harvey said. “And is this happening right now, the answer is yes.”
She said the movements of today’s world, such as the Black Lives Matter and the #MeToo movements, are erasing their leaders as they are happening. Harvey said that in order to remedy this, people need to know the names of the women of color who have led both of these movements and those that have taken place throughout history.
“The one thing that I think is important to remember, even the #MeToo [movement], does anybody know the origins of that?” said Hernandez. “So, it wasn’t a white woman. It wasn’t an actress. It was in fact a black woman about 10 years ago who wanted to work with survivors of sexual assault.”
Kenia Calderon, a local activist working to support immigrants and fight for their rights, agreed.
“It’s not until—I’m just being very real—it’s not until white women get with the movement that people start paying attention, and if you look at history, that is how all movements have gone,” Calderon said.
Due to the size and pressure surrounding social justice movements, it is easy for people to get erased or put out of the spotlight.
Erin Lain, associate provost for campus equity and inclusion, said that “we devalue just those everyday moments where we can stand up for justice” either on campus or in general to ensure people are being seen across movements.
Others on the panel echoed that sentiment, saying that attempting to focus on everything can be overwhelming and committing time and energy to one cause or area can help create change.
“We have to have the conversation, and it has to be had over and over again, and not to repeat the same exact things we’re talking about, but to put those names out there like Dr. Jennifer Harvey was talking about,” Caldwell said.
Throughout the panel, the women reminded students that they must recognize and value the origins of movements in order to continue fighting for their causes.