PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania — On Monday, March 15th, The Womanist Working Collective became aware that our organization had been named in City of Philadelphia resolution No. 210200 introduced on March 4th by Councilmember Cindy Bass. We as an organization want to make it clear to all members of the Philadelphia community that we were not involved in any way in the drafting of this resolution nor did we consent to being named in its contents.
The Womanist Working Collective views and names this as an attempt to exploit the social capital of our Collective of laboring Black women & femmes in order to validate an empty gesture. The drafting of this resolution is low-hanging fruit—a performative display of solidarity intended to placate the People and avoid redirecting resources towards grassroots collectives actually doing the work of supporting marginalized women in the Philadelphia community. International Women’s Day has formally been in existence since the earliest years of the 20th century and was born out of union-member, Socialist, Communist, working women's demands that the material conditions of their lives be improved. To pat oneself on the back for adopting into city ordinance a day which has been observed for over a century and is already globally recognized, without any mention of nor commitment to material support to improve the quality of life of marginalized women, and while exploiting the social capital of Black women and femmes, is an extension of Neocolonialism. It is also White Feminism in action.
The Womanist Working Collective firmly objects to being named and identified in conjunction with this resolution. Furthermore, we formally demand that this resolution, should it stand, be re-drafted within 10 business days and any mention of The Womanist Working Collective be removed. We were invited to offer "input" on this resolution and we declined. We were asked again via email, to which we simply did not respond. We later learned that our organization had been named in the document anyway in disregard of our explicit NO. This is what Systemic Violence looks like. The Womanist Working Collective is a Black women & femmes-led radical grassroots collective and is not contracted with nor an employee of the City of Philadelphia or any other government. As a result of this gross overstep, we have decided to withdraw our volunteered labor from all community-based projects affiliated with the City's Department of Public Health, specifically a committee providing oversight and direction in developing a city-wide health report centering Black women and girls.
The Womanist Working Collective also demands that the reallocation of funds away from the Philadelphia Police Department and towards grassroots community-based groups already doing the work of supporting Philadelphia’s women be included in the City of Philadelphia budget for Fiscal Year 2022. These redirected resources should be unconditional, flexible, consistent, and free of government and philanthropic oversight. We demand that the City prioritize Black, Indigenous, and other Communities of Color, making funds available to folks doing community work outside of non-profit spaces. These funds should be given to no fewer than 100 grassroots community-based organizations, groups, collectives, and community organizers throughout the city, including The Womanist Working Collective, to be used as we (as part of The People) see fit in continuing to provide direct and tangible support to marginalized women in our communities. If the City of Philadelphia wants to make a commitment to women, this is how we demand that they do so.
We ask the community to always look to The Womanist Working Collective's official channels for any clarity on our position regarding public issues. If a communication has not been formally shared via our website or social media platforms, no assumption should be made as to our knowledge or endorsement of said content. We ask this in order to guard against any future attempts to exploit our labor, name, or perceived endorsement. The Womanist Working Collective will be following up with the community regarding the response to our demands.
The Womanist Working Collective
Cierra Freeman, Co-organizer
Okichie Davis, Co-organizer
LaTierra Piphus, Co-organizer