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Rae Steward's picture

"We are the leaders we’ve been looking for." ~Grace Lee Boggs All of us. We can do hard things. And we don’t need to wait for anyone to tell us how to do them.

Our national rolling hunger strike launched on July 30th in Oakland, CA. This movement is in solidarity with the migrant families separated and incarcerated by our government. It was inspired by the mothers hunger striking inside Port Isabel Detention Center to demand the right to speak to their children on the phone. Let that sink in. Incarcerated mothers. Refusing food for days at a time. To demand the right to speak to their incarcerated children. On the phone.  

The why behind this strike is important. And so is the how.  This strike is happening because one passionate and compassionate woman in Oakland posted on Facebook and said, “What if we did a hunger strike in solidarity with these mothers?” Neither of us had ever organized a hunger strike before, or any national action for that matter. Still, the two of us talked on the phone and then we got to work. Then more women and men joined us. And they got to work. Eleven cities across the country are hunger striking in August alone and twenty-three more cities are in the planning stages.

I organized and participated in the hunger strike in Santa Cruz, California, which took place August 5-7. Those three days were a truly beautiful experience.

Fasting with four other women for a cause we all deeply care about was moving beyond words.

We laughed, we cried, we talked about birth, death, sex, motherhood, daughterhood, grief, love, and everything in between.

The incarcerated mothers and families stayed in the forefront of our minds.

When fasting became difficult, we looked around at our support and our privilege. We talked about how unbearable the fasting must be from the inside of a prison, not knowing where your children are, or if you’d ever see them again.

We thought of mothers and children that face food scarcity as a daily reality.

It’s all connected.

Parenting is harder when you’re hungry. 
Working is harder when you’re hungry. 
Articulating your thoughts is harder when you’re hungry. 
Regulating your emotions is harder when you’re hungry. 
Physical tasks are harder when you’re hungry. 
Everything is harder when you’re hungry.

Or poor. Or criminalized. Or oppressed. Or abused. Or scared.

Our system has created unbelievably difficult circumstances for people of color and punishes them for being in the very circumstances we created.

We need immigration reform. 
We need criminal justice reform. 

We need the dismantling of patriarchal, heteronormative, white supremacy.

We are the leaders we’ve been looking for. All of us. We can do hard things. And we don’t need to wait for anyone to tell us how to do them.


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