Last Friday, the Workers Center for Racial Justice (WCRJ) participated in an intensive training on workplace sexual harassment and assault facilitated by Healing to Action. During this full day workshop, WCRJ staff explored the root causes and structural impacts of gender based violence, and developed skills to support systems-level resistance to abuse against female workers. In the coming weeks, WCRJ will take steps to develop a leadership base of low wage Black women workers and launch an organizing campaign to counter sexual violence and economic oppression in the workplace.
Dating back to the origins of slavery, the economic exploitation and sexual abuse of Black women have been inextricably linked and deeply rooted in our national institutions. The historical reverberations are evident in the present day, with Black female workers significantly overrepresented in low wage industries which report disproportionately high rates of sexual harassment complaints. Nevertheless, recent public outrage expressed in the Me Too and Time’s Up movements has focused exclusively on the struggles of prominent, wealthy white women, largely discounting the experiences of survivors of color.
As activists voice concern over the unsustainable nature of the #MeToo and #TimesUp moment and debate how best to achieve traction and permanency, WCRJ recognizes that the future success of the movement lies in the collective power of Black women, who have historically led the fight to eliminate gender based violence in the workplace, often at great personal sacrifice and with little recognition. As organizers, policy makers, attorneys, and plaintiffs, Black women have been instrumental in writing federal legislation, establishing legal precedent and shifting public attitudes on gender equity in the workplace.
WCRJ is committed to amplifying the voices of low wage Black women workers in the movement to end gender based violence and economic exploitation. More information on how you can get involved in our fight for racial, gender and economic justice can be found here.