Us & We Art Statement on Race Justice and Intersectional Feminism

When I made the first Badass Women Calendar in 2016, it was a very spur of the moment, explosive project. With very little planning, I created a series of portraits celebrating mostly women who I thought wouldn’t usually be featured in a calendar of badasses— especially politically radical women, queer women, and women of color.


 

(It all started with a Facebook post)

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The following year I put a little more planning into it and ordered and sold about 2500 calendars. I’m very proud to say I worked with a local Philadelphia printing company that employs a bunch of women.

Over the past few months I have been engaging in conversations about my calendars in the context of race— it is important to me that this feminist project is boldly intersectional, and to me that means honoring, celebrating, and recognizing a lot of women of color, who have so often been whitewashed out of the women’s rights movement. That being said— I’m real white! And I want to make sure that while I’m curating this project to inspire all humans to be their most badass selves, I recognizing my own role as white person in the fight for racial justice.

I recently read Ta-Nehisi Coates’ The Case for Reparations, which was heart-breaking, by the way, and opened up a ton more questions for me. I worked hard to make the Badass Women Calendar, and I made a (relatively) big sum of money from the sales— more than I’ve ever made in fact. I’m grateful for the couple of folks who have reached out to me on social media asking me what I’m doing to support people of color— it’s a great question, and I’m grateful for the feedback I’ve gotten from friends who I’ve asked about this too.


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Here we are in this weird world bursting with pain and joy; infuriating injustice and beautiful growth; systemic racism and brilliant change; individuals who tear each other down, and individuals who call out for their allies and ask What are you going to do to help?


After recently doing my 2017 taxes, I have just paid several thousand dollars to the government. As a pacifist it turns my guts to think that 50% of the money I made from making work about caring about each other, is now capitalizing the United States' irresponsibly funded military. I wasn’t really prepared to deal with such an increase in income this year, but I want to have a plan for next year.

Anyway, in light of wanting to address racism, wanting to divest from the military, and wanting to continue supporting myself as an artist, here is my plan:

1. Engage in conversation with you all about what Us & We Art can do to advance racial justice.
2. Commit to an organization or fund* I can support financially with a certain percentage of my income from my Badass Women project.
3. Strategize a financial plan so that I can distribute my wealth to programs and institutions that help develop and sustain the world I want to see, and divest from the parts that destroy us.
4. Invest a certain percentage of my income in sustainable, socially responsible long-term investments.
 

I also recently launched a separate website and Instagram account for the Badass Women Project, which can be found at www.thebadasswomen.com and @thebadasswomen.

 

Until a few months ago, I had never really had savings before. I’m pretty frugal in general, but it’s a new experience for me to not feel limited when it comes to things I need to get by (like rent, food, getting places, self-care etc). I don’t actually like the idea of savings— money sitting in a bank account when there is so much emergency need in the world doesn’t feel right to me, but I’ve always felt frustrated by dirty investment options. Now with some financial responsibility, I’m excited to find ways to invest in things that make an important impact.

I would really appreciate your feedback on all this— I’m a growing, learning, imperfect human just like you! And we all know different things, so if you have thoughts to share about how I can support racial justice with my small business, finding sustainable socially conscious investment options, and organizations or groups that support women of color that I could donate to, or any other related light or wisdom, please reach out to me or comment here. I would especially love to hear from people of color about how white small business owners can best be your allies— and knowing that just like not all women have the same views in feminism, not all folks of color agree on the "right way" to fight racism. We are all our own selves, and we are all in this together.

Thank you.

P.S. For those of you who don’t know me, I am one person. I identify as a white woman (with a bunch of feelings about gender), and Us & We Art is the name of my business.

P.P.S. Quick math, just to be clear: I did not sell 2500 calendars at $20 each and make $50,000 that is definitely not what happened. Accounting for printing cost, multiple-sale discounts, wholesale (store) prices at 50%, donations to fundraising causes, subsidized shipping costs, and general loss, I made about $5-$15 per calendar (which is still awesome!). Just wanted to clarify. Business is expensive, please support small businesses when you can!

*UPDATE: I have already learned about several exciting potential groups to donate to, including:

Trans Women of Color Collective: uplifting the narratives, lived experiences and leadership of trans and gender non-conforming people of color, our families and comrades as we build towards collective liberation for all oppressed people.
Higher Heights: elevating Black women’s voices to shape and advance progressive policies and politics.
Power Rising Summit: providing a space for Black women, from coast to coast, to come together as one.
Black Women's Roundtable: promotes public policies that ensure stable families and a prepared workforce for today and tomorrow.

I really like the idea of offering to pay registration fees for young black women to attend awesome conferences, summits, events etc... More recommendations please!