Each seasonal exhibit of the Women Soaring Project (WSP) seeks to focus on a particular theme celebrating women. This year, WSP elected to focus on "Women Antiracists".
What does it mean to be antiracist? To be antiracist is to make a conscious and concerted effort to eliminate racial inequality at a personal and institutional level. Antiracist work involves calling out racist actions, identifying racist policies and practices, acknowledging personal racial bias or privilege, and actively seeking to provide equal opportunities for all people. This form of action moves beyond being a passive nonracist who maintains the status quo of inequality. Merely agreeing that racism is wrong does not create change. Achieving equality for all requires action and an active mindset to effectively remedy racism in society.
In the face of relentless racism, there have been notable women antiracists throughout U.S. history. Angela Davis is among them. In 2020, Time magazine featured Davis as one of the 100 most influential women in the past century in honor of the 100th Anniversary of Women’s Suffrage. After having spent 18 months in jail and being acquitted of all charges against her, Davis’ experience with the criminal justice system led her to fight fervently for the social justice of "black women, black prisoners, and black poor." As a well-known academic, author, and activist, she has sought to abolish the current U.S. prison system that has resulted in the mass incarceration of people, particularly people of color.
Alongside Davis, other prominent women antiracists have similarly persevered in their efforts to fight racism in a myriad of ways:
Jane Elliot - internationally-known diversity educator and creator of the “Blue-Eyes/Brown-Eyes” classroom exercise
Dolores Huerta - co-founder of the United Farm Workers Association and leader of the Chicano civil rights movement
Evelyn Yoshimura - leader in the Asian American civil rights movement and community activist who sought reparations for Japanese internment
Sacheen Littlefeather - actress and activist for Native American rights who was the first in history to make a political statement at the Academy Awards
These women have paved the way for a new crop of women antiracists today such as: Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi - co-founders of Black Lives Matter, Isabel Wilkerson - Pulitzer Prize winner and author of The New York Times Best Seller Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, and Rachel Cargle - academic, writer, lecturer and creator of “The Great Unlearn”. All the women mentioned above represent the epitome of those who have gone well beyond being simply a nonracist and instead have committed themselves to transformational antiracist work in society. Their work is essential in moving towards neutralizing the effects of racism by not only acknowledging its pervasiveness throughout society, but also offering antiracist solutions and strategies.
The tragic death of George Floyd has put antiracism at the forefront of the human agenda today, and it has led to a ripple effect of antiracist movements throughout the globe. WSP’s upcoming Spring 2022 exhibit, Women Antiracists, commemorates eight notable women who fought against systems of racial bias and oppression in U.S. history (see below) while inviting individuals to submit 2-D artwork that honor women antiracists. Please click HERE for more information on how to submit.