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Today marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. And while many have focused the conversation on those women in the rest of the world, we wanted to bring the day closer to home.

For some of us, the “international” before “women” can dissuade us from identifying with the day. It is something that celebrates the global community of other women, too often an abstract concept that floats and trends on Twitter while the rest of us go about our days with other concerns.

However, today in the Huffington Post, activist Marian Wright Edelman made a case for black women to remain concerned about women’s global rights. In her op-ed “Ain’t I A Woman?,” Edelman imagines the return of one civil rights icon to see the state of women today.

“If Sojourner were alive today, I feel certain she would be standing before crowds of people roaring about the injustice and inequality still challenging so many poor children and children of color in America.”

Edelman’s piece allows us to put into perspective the fact that African-Americans still share many of the struggles of their counterparts outside the country. And while the injustice and inequality are shared, there is a marked difference in how we empathize with the face of the woman we see watching world news.

Often in retort to this topic, Black women use the very divides wedged between us to build our argument on. A common example of this is delineation between the African-American and Black immigrant communities. Whenever this debate arises, I often see sisters using the foreign as a reason not to care or using the foreign as a reason to guilt others for not being as invested.

The truth is that International Women’s Day should not be about the divides that determine borders but rather the ones that limit the progression of women’s rights, the human condition and positive change.

One of the most glaring absences in the discussion on the rights of women around the globe are the diverse voices of American women of color. This was seen again this week with the release of The Daily Beast and Newsweek’s “Women in the World.” Though the list features notable Black women like Oprah, Michelle Obama and Condeleeza Rice, it made us wonder when the old guard of sisters leading will finally become a vital part of the wider conversation.

If Sojourner could return today, I think she would ask us to believe in the power of the Black woman’s spirit to change a nation and the world. Because while today is about the world’s women, we may need to remind ourselves we are part that network as well.

 

Kerry Washington reads Sojourner Truth, “Ain’t I a Woman?” (1851) from Voices of a People's History on Vimeo.

What are your thoughts Clutchettes: is International Women’s Day on your radar?

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  • African Mami

    The international before the women just shows the globalization and interconnectdness that we share as women across the globe! It was not a term conceived to alienate a woman in Chechenia, and her sister in Peru. Let’s focus in on making it a day to celebrate other women across the pond other than ourselves!