Letter to the Revolutionary Communist PartyRadical Women
113 West 128th St., New York, NY 10027 – 212-222-0633 – firstname.lastname@example.org – www.RadicalWomen.org
July 17, 2013
To the Revolutionary Communist Party:
I am writing to protest your organization's exclusion of Radical Women Organizer Emily Woo Yamasaki from speaking on behalf of Radical Women at the July 14th 1pm rally in Harlem against the Trayvon Martin verdict. Toward the beginning of the rally, the RCP representative who was leading the program told the crowd, "We want to hear from everyone!" Following that, Ms. Woo Yamasaki approached the rep and told him she'd like to make a statement. He responded that she could, and she positioned herself near the speakers' area.
Several speakers later (including two different speakers from the Internationalist Group), Ms. Woo Yamasaki approached the RCP rep again, and again he said she would be able to speak. She continued to stand right near the speakers' area. Several more speakers later, that RCP rep disappeared and Ms. Woo Yamasaki then approached Sunsara Taylor. She told Ms. Taylor that the other rep had told her she could speak. After more speakers and still not being called on, it became clear that the RCP was excluding Radical Women from speaking.
The program featured a number of speakers from the RCP, including at least two who exhorted the crowd to repeat back statements of support for RCP leader Bob Avakian "mic check" style. This rhetorical and sectarian attitude towards rally participants prompted a man to shout out, "I don't want to follow Bob Avakian." An older woman in the crowd urged you to let the man speak, and your response was to shout the man down. Where is the democracy in that? The RCP rep's statement, "We want to hear from everyone," was an empty one.
The fact that the RCP may have initiated the rally does not mean you have the right to dominate it or that you "own" the Trayvon Martin issue. This sectarianism is a total disservice to the Harlem community and the Left as well as to the Trayvon Martin issue itself. It is mis-leadership and the kind of behavior that instills a distrust of Left groups among grassroots people.
This treatment of Radical Women is especially deplorable given the work for the past three years that RW has done in collaboration with the World Can't Wait representative in the defense of Dr. Emily Women's Health Center in the South Bronx. Radical Women has always been open to and inclusive of RCP members speaking at the reproductive rights rallies at Dr. Emily's. Think about what it means that you excluded the one, openly feminist group at the July 14th Trayvon rally. This conduct smacks of anti-feminism and sexism.
The exclusion of RW at the Harlem Trayvon rally is all the more appalling in light of our recent collaboration with the RCP and others to organize the Bradley Manning Contingent for the NYC LGBT Pride March, which was in fact led by the Freedom Socialist Party, Radical Women's sister organization.
With the heightened attacks on people of color, women, queers, radicals, the poor, and workers, it is imperative that Left groups work together in a mutually respectful and democratic fashion rather than exclude and silence each other. There must be a way for organizations and activists to work together while maintaining our differences. The future of the movement depends on it. Radical Women is fully committed to doing this, are you?
Executive Committee, New York City Chapter, Radical Women