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Anti-Racism and Feminism: Can They Co-Exist?

02/09/2015 03:14 pm ET | Updated Apr 11, 2015

Anti-racism and feminism: Can they co-exist? For Chicago Foundation for Women that question is not an intellectual exercise. We have to answer the question with a resounding "yes" or surely we fail at our mission to lift up all women where we find them. But, answering with a resounding "yes," unfortunately, is an aspirational undertaking. Our work is not done on the issue and we need help to chart our course carefully.

To that end, Chicago Foundation for Women is hosting a "30th Anniversary Conversation: Race & Feminism. Where Do You Stand?" in the evening on Tuesday, February 10, 2015. RSVP's for the event have poured in. Registration is at capacity and is closed. Women in Chicago realize that this issue can be divisive, must be acknowledged, needs to be discussed and must be dealt with in an open forum where all voices are heard.

It is no wonder that the event filled quickly. The panel for the conversation features women at the forefront of the issue. Under the guidance of award-winning journalist and adjunct professor at Columbia College Chicago, Sylvia Ewing, the panel and attendees will openly and frankly discuss the intersection of race and feminism ("intersectionality") across generations and cultures. Panelists include: Veronica Arreola, professional feminist, writer, and mom; Mikki Kendall, noted blogger on the issue of race and feminism and creator of the satirical yet serious hashtag, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, which lit up the blogosphere in August 2013; Joy Messinger, Deputy Director of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health and core member of Invisible to Invincible (i2i); and Ann Russo, Associate Professor in the Department of Women's and Gender Studies at DePaul University whose work is committed to accountability and transformative justice.

This conversation will be a unique opportunity for women from all over Chicago to gather to do some "reckoning" in the name of feminism. I cannot say it better than writer Roxanne Gay:

While feminism is the belief that the rights of women are as inalienable as the rights of men, feminism, at its best, is so much more. No one assumes only one identity. We cannot consider the needs of women without also accounting for race, ethnicity, gender, citizenship, class, sexuality, ability and more. Such nuanced awareness, such intersectionality, is the marrow within the bones of feminism.

For Chicago Foundation for Women our goal is to adopt a feminism that is by definition intersectional -- meaning our brand of feminism is self-aware enough to see privilege where it lies, injustice where it lives and inequality when it holds back any woman from her goal, our goal. CFW works hard every day to meet women where they are on their journey and to assist them when assistance is needed and to listen to them when their voices need to be heard.

I hope to share with you next month some of those voices from the evening of February 10. Be sure to follow the #areuafeminist hashtag and participate in the LIVE EVENT TWEETUP.