Over 30 people participated in a March 10 discussion hosted by Workers World Party connecting the struggle for gender liberation with the struggle against U.S. empire. Featured speakers included Megan Malachi of Philly REAL Justice, Palestinian novelist and activist Susan Abulhawa, and Black transgender organizer Liora Libertad. Megan Murray with Workers World facilitated. The event was the third in a monthly series of classes called Anti-Imperialism 101, based on writings by political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and others.
Malachi raised the need to understand that sexual violence is a form of political violence. She stated that the system has always directed special cruelties and oppression at Black women because of the critical role they have played in our communities dating back centuries.
Malachi noted that Rosa Parks began her activism as an anti-rape investigator and that Joanne Robinson and the women who organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott (December 1955 to December 1956) focused on the transit system specifically because of the violence committed against them on buses. “Exploiting Black women is acting in the service of empire,” Malachi said, “regardless of who is committing the acts.” She went on to say that sexual violence is rooted in white supremacy and that gender oppression is not a “secondary issue.”
Susan Abulhawa, speaking as a Palestinian woman, began by saying, “One of the primary forms of gender violence is denial of someone’s existence, then trivializing their existence.” She drew on the example of Leila Khaled, a revolutionary and militant Palestinian who led a campaign of hijackings and other direct actions against Israeli occupation in the 1970s. “Only through revolutionary violence was the world forced to recognize our existence.”
In a very similar message Liora Libertad raised the struggle for LGBTQ2S+ liberation. “My pronouns are they and that is nonnegotiable,” Liora began. “My name means that I have light and freedom.” All the gains won by the movement, they explained, began with the Black and Brown transwomen-led, anti-police uprising at Stonewall.
In a wide-ranging talk, the three speakers also discussed the purposeful erasure of trans people by the institution of the nuclear family, a structure that is necessary for capitalist production. Trans people subvert this structure by demanding their existence be recognized.
MOVE Minister of Confrontation Pam Africa and Indigenous organizer and community leader Carmen Guerrero participated in the Q&A period that followed. Abulhawa, who took part in the discussion via Zoom video, also raised a dire warning about the spread of the COVID19 virus and implored workers to take the necessary precautions. She stated, “The bourgeois state is once again demonstrating its unwillingness and inability to protect the lives of workers, particularly those who face unique oppressions because of their gender and race.”