Last week, in Santiago, Chile, I had a fantastic dream. I was in a little shop run by two younger women. Our conversation turned toward physical capacity, and I told them I was lucky to be very healthy except for my bones. “I can still run faster than you!” I quipped, and hightailed it down the street. Of course they caught up with me within seconds. Each took an elbow and up we went into the air—fast!—a three-wonder-women rocket on an exhilarating mission.
That’s the sisterhood I envisioned in a piece in the New York Times this fall, a call for women to quit competing to “stay young” and come together across the generations to challenge ageism, sexism, and patriarchy. The dream perfectly captures my hopes for 2018: that the outrage behind #MeToo continues to build, helping fuel the Black Lives Matter movement and resistance of all kinds. That just as different forms of prejudice compound and reinforce each other, so do different forms of activism.
We’re only going to reach this tipping point if we follow the advice of historian Barbara Ramsby: “Always ally yourselves with those on the bottom, on the margins, and at the periphery of the centers of power. And in doing so, you will land yourself at the very center of some of the most important struggles of our society and our history.” She was speaking on the 40th anniversary of the Combahee River Collective Statement, written by radical black feminists to address what they felt was the failure of white feminist organizations to address racism in the US. In 2016 fifty-four percent of white women voters chose a racist rapist. If we want a movement against ageism that leaves no one out, we need to do better. The women of the Combahee River Collective identified the necessary tools as solidarity and coalition-building. I’m just starting the awkward-conversation stage, dreaming of allies of all colors and backgrounds taking flight together.