Aerial shot from the 2018 Eureka Women’s March

With less than a week until the off-again, on-again 2019 Eureka Women’s March — which, for the record, is set to take place this Saturday, Jan. 19 starting at noon under new leadership — the event’s initial group of organizers issued an “Open Letter to Community Members” Monday. In the message, which you can read in its entirety below, they attempt to further explain their reasons for postponing their march while also announcing their intent to boycott the subsequently planned march. 

That new planning has largely been taken on by Linda Atkins, a former member of the Eureka City Council, who was disappointed when the original march was called off. The Outpost learned today that Atkins suffered a heart attack over the weekend. According to Kathy Srabian, who was helping to plan Saturday’s event, Atkins has been released from the hospital and is now recovering at home.

Srabian, meanwhile, was concerned when she saw the press release below that people might think the march has again been cancelled. It has not. 

“I’m taking over the to-do list,” Srabian said. 

The press release from the original organizers says canceling the march was the right thing to do: “No march is better than another one which does not derive from the leadership, and perspective, of those women who are most oppressed by the current system.” A little over a week ago original organizer Kelsey Reedy went on Fox News to state her case further. Watch below. 

Srabian, who admitted to being just one inexperienced person, said she doesn’t see why the march must necessarily be organized by those “most oppressed by the current system.” She and Atkins, she said, are “taking a neighborly approach to creating a space for a march to happen — for the people who want it.”

She’s also doesn’t object to boycotts. 

“I want all the people who want to boycott to boycott and all the people who want to march to march,” Srabian said. “I’m fine with that.”

Mostly she just wants people to know the march has not been canceled. 

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Original Women’s March organizer’s letter below:

An Open Letter to Community Members

This group has been honored to organize the “Eureka Women’s March” in Humboldt in order to facilitate women’s empowerment and to send the message that our County will resist President Trump’s sexist and racist practices and policies. As we begin 2019, we know that the political climate in the country, and in our county, continues to demand that action be taken, that a stand be made.

But our actions must be meaningful and inclusive for real change to be possible. We reflected that our group’s leadership was comprised of almost entirely women who identified as white. We did not want to lead a “White Women’s March” that ignored the issues directly impacting underrepresented women, including those who do not benefit from the system of white supremacy. Nor did we want to lead a march that only reacts to the president’s actions, as the problems goes far beyond him. Pink hats resembling women’s reproductive organs are problematic, as not all people who identify as a woman have vaginas, not all vaginas are pink, and they are horrific reminders to many Indigenous women of when colonists would kill Indigenous peoples and cut off their genitals to wear on their hats and belts as trophies.

For these reasons, we decided to postpone the March, and we choose to boycott the January 19th march, which appears as if it will resemble previous marches. In solidarity with local Indigenous leaders, the LGBTQ+ community and communities of color, we could not in good conscience plan another march which does not include them in a meaningful way. No march is better than another one which does not derive from the leadership, and perspective, of those women who are most oppressed by the current system.

Instead, we plan to organize a women’s event in Eureka on March 9, International Women’s Day, which will place Indigenous women, LGBTQ+ women, and women of color front and center in the planning and on the day of the event.

Some have argued that our new vision for a women’s mobilization constitutes “social justice issues” not “women’s issues.” But, safety for the LGBTQ* community, Justice for Josiah Lawson, protection for immigrant peoples, and justice for missing and murdered Indigenous women—these are all real problems that dramatically affect women’s lives in this community. Because these issues do not directly affect white women nearly as often, they are often brushed aside as “non-women’s issues.” These issues reflect the reality of marginalized women in our community.

In 2019, let us not continue to make the same historical mistakes made by the women’s movement in this country. We must stop the marginalization and exclusion within the movement. We will no longer support events which do not prioritize the experiences of marginalized women.

Please join us in taking this stand. Besides joining the March 9 event (details to be announced), please support local actions, including:

  • Supporting Charmaine Lawson and Justice for Josiah at the next vigil this Tuesday, January 15th at 5:30 p.m. outside of the Eureka Courthouse. We also encourage people to put pressure on the District Attorney Maggie Fleming who has had the case for over 2 months now. Please like, share and follow the Justice for David Josiah Lawson FB page.
  • Attending the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration on Monday, January 21, in Eureka, and be ready to listen
  • Attending the NAACP’s Black History Month activities in February.

*Disclaimer: We are aware that there are some people in our community who do not agree with the use of racialized language terms such as people of color. We understand that race is a social construct and we are hopeful that the community could engage in discussions about possible alternative wording to use and ways in which we could further decolonize our language and move the community forward. We would greatly appreciate help with this going forward.