We know we must do better | COFEM’s Statement of Solidarity with Black Women

We stand with and up for Black people everywhere.

It was two weeks ago today that George Floyd was murdered. Just over three months ago, Ahmaud Arbery was shot dead while on a run. Last week Breonna Taylor would have celebrated her 27th birthday, and charges have yet to be brought against the police officers that killed her in her home. Their brutal and senseless deaths join them to countless other Black women and men whose lives have been cut down by systemic racism, oppression, and state-sanctioned violence against Black people that have persisted throughout the history of the United States and the world. We stand with and are inspired by, the demonstrations through the #BlackLivesMatter movement rising across the United States, and the world, calling for an end to violence and discrimination against Black people.

For change to happen, we know we must do better. 

As a diverse network of feminists working on violence against women and girls, COFEM supports an intersectional understanding about how the racism that Black women experience intersects with multiple other oppressions, in particular, oppression based on gender discrimination, which multiplies their risk of violence and at the same time, robs them of their rights to safety and justice.

Still, we know that the deep roots of white supremacy, patriarchy, and anti-Black racism continue to manifest in our homes, communities, and even in our feminist values. In particular, white feminism has a long history of dismissing the voices of Black women, by centering white voices and experiences. Other women of color can also perpetuate anti-Blackness and be complicit in reinforcing racist systems of oppression.

For there to be change, all feminists—but in particular white feminists—must examine, acknowledge, and address our privilege and continuously strive to act on our responsibilities for dismantling systems that support or reinforce ideological frameworks that are racist, sexist, or xenophobic. We must broaden our understanding of the multiple forms of structural violence faced by Black women and amplify their stories and experiences in our feminist movement-building.

We are getting to work.

In solidarity with Black women within and beyond our network, COFEM commits to do better in supporting and practicing meaningful allyship with our members of color, and in working with our white members to bring about greater accountability to racial justice.

  • We will seek to ensure that all our work is grounded in an anti-racist, anti-oppression, and intersectional feminist lens.
  • We will commit to promoting ongoing professional and personal anti-racist learning and development of our members, particularly our white members, with the help of experts in racial equity.
  • We will undertake activities to deepen our relationship with feminist organizations led by women of color, and to support their leadership.
  • We will actively take feedback from our community to know what we can do better as feminists to show up for all women.
  • We will use our platform to speak out when we see organizations or individuals perpetuating racist language or actions.

We are on this collective journey with all of our members and allies to ensure that our words translate to actions so that within our network, and in all our advocacy work, we are supporting an essential truth: #BlackLivesMatter.