A call for urgency on March 8

NEWS CENTER –Ahead of March 8, International Women’s Day, Jamiella Brooks and Sarah Haughn stressed the impossibility of celebrating the day without deeper structural change.

Jamiella Brooks and Sarah Haughn, graduate students and mothers at the University of California, Davis, in the U.S. city of Davis, California, commented on the impossibility of celebrating International Women’s Day in the context of capitalism and anti-blackness. The women critiqued the generality of the category of “woman” and called for a state of urgency going beyond a single day.

‘The history of women has always been white and upper middle class’

Sarah called for a reflection on International Women’s Day on “who gets to be a woman” in a world that is anti-black and capitalist. She pointed out that “hopefulness” is only available to certain political projects. Jamiella noted that the history of “women” has always been white and upper middle class, and called for intersectionality in thinking about International Women’s Day. “If we theorize what International Women’s Day should be, it shouldn’t be like ‘world music’ when we go into a music shop. It should be about understanding where different women come from, recognizing the points of difference, and making that the starting point.”

‘How can we recognize when something else is going on?’

Jamiella described the importance of structural transformation. She said that in North Africa, the focus of her research, literacy has been one such transformation, “not in the sense that literacy puts women in the structure of education, which is still imperial and colonial, but in the sense that when we read, we have access to different worlds.”

Sarah noted that the category of woman has been used as a tool by capitalism, imperialism, and white patriarchy, but asked “How can we recognize when something else is going on?” “We both have daughters who will walk through the world and get read as Black. The ways in which they are an impossibility in this world also lets us see the ways in which they are possible. They are here. They are impossible in this world, but that means that this is not the only world,” said Sarah.

‘A state of urgency’

Jamiella recalled a conversation with a professor from Martinique, who when asked about why she was always writing, said “I’m always in a state of urgency.” “There’s a state of urgency that cannot be contained in the temporal boundaries of what we do on that day. But we can think about strategies of heightened risk, and remember that this is connected to the fibers of our beings. Death is inevitable unless we continue to focus on urgency and not complacency,” said Jamiella.