For the past few months, our community member, CP, has been part of the Anne Braden Program, which develops white organizers to strengthen principled anti-racist leadership. CP participated in the program on behalf of Jewish Voices for Peace; both their membership and leadership is composed mostly of white Jewish people and their organization is undergoing racial justice transformation work in order to be a stronger, more accountable coalition partner in their work. To date, CP has been able to fundraise $3,600 for Muslim Women For.
We talked with CP about their fundraising efforts and what they learned through this experience. We wanted to share them with you all as we believe their sentiments capture the work happening in North Carolina and the relationships that exist amongst our organizations and communities. We believe CP’s sentiments and fundraising actions are an excellent example of white folks working as collaborators and co-conspirators to Muslims, Black, Brown, people of color and immigrants. This is also a local model for fundraising as it pushes donors to reimagine the way money can move more equitably into emerging and grassroots BIPOC-led groups that have historically lacked access to money and support.
Tell us a bit about your background, identity and who you are
I’m CP, a white anti-zionist Jewish dyke who grew up in the south. I’ve lived in so-called North Carolina for 6 years and am grateful everyday to organize with and learn from members and leaders of JVP Triangle Chapter and our broader movement community. I used to work in (and am recovering from) state electoral politics and am currently figuring out how to get back in the classroom after many years away. I’m chronically ill/ disabled, and spend a lot of time thinking about / experimenting with how to make care a central organizing principle in how we are with each other.
Why did you choose to fundraise for Muslim Women For through your program?
The Anne Braden Program trains white anti-racist organizers to be more accountable and effective in movements for racial justice. The program required participants to fundraise for organizations that are grassroots (led and accountable to its members/constituencies and working for systemic change), BIPOC-led and centered (guided by the belief that those most impacted by white supremacy should be leading movements to abolish it), and the theory of change, mission, vision, strategy, story, and structure of the organization focuses on challenging white supremacy and building poor/working class power. After talking with my JVP chapter, Muslim Women For seemed like a really obvious choice!
I have been so inspired by Muslim Women For’s work, especially as a Jewish organizer. Y’all model beautifully what visionary faith-based organizing looks like outside of white Christianity, how to show up to this work as our full selves, and how our traditions can ground and sustain us in movement work. Our struggles are so bound together. Antisemitism and Islamophobia have claimed the lives of our people. And I’ve learned from Muslim socialist feminists how both these technologies of power (along with anti-Blackness which cuts through both) scaffold neoliberalism and global fascism. Antisemitism directs blame away from the global ruling class and Islamophobia legitimizes U.S. militarism and empire. Anti-zionist and anti-imperialist Jewish organizations need to be building solidarity and power to build bigger and more vibrant movements so we can more effectively fight our common enemy of white supremacy, fascism and US-empire. White nationalists are regrouping and gaining strength, and they want to kill our people. We should be resourcing orgs led by people most impacted with principled and clear visions for a liberated world. When all Black, immigrant, Muslim gender oppressed are free, we all get free.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve mobilized alongside members of Muslim Women For in a rapid response formation that responded to local demonstrations against Israeli settler and military attacks in Palestine. This work has foregrounded the need for strong, accountable coalition relationships over the long haul and the importance of taking direction from Black, Palestinian, Arab and Muslim visionary feminist leadership. As a Jewish antizionist, being in solidarity means actively combatting zionist propaganda which is rooted in anti-Arab racism and Islamophobia. As anti-zionist Jewish organizations, we need to flank our Muslim comrades and root out Islamophobia in our movements. Resourcing Muslim feminist leadership is the bare minimum.
What have you learned about your own community through this experience?
My community of anti-zionist Jewish organizers is bold, brilliant, and committed to this work for the long haul. And, completing the Braden program made it so clear how U.S. empire, neoliberalism, and racial capitalism have alienated members of the broader Jewish community in the US from our allies in the fight against fascism and white nationalism. In other words, many white Jewish people don’t show up for movements for racial justice because we have been violently socialized by our whiteness (and for many of us, our class position) not to. For white Jews, redistributing resources to Black, immigrant and indigenous communities is a mandate.
As Palestinian leaders have said over and over, zionism is a racist, colonial ideology that has murdered and displaced the Palestinian people. And, for Jewish people, it has led our community to accept a violent, alienating lie that we are safer through an ethnostate established by a colonial ruling class. A friend in the program shared a Winona LaDuke insight: “the world is suffering from the fact that Europe has never been able to deal with its ‘Jewish Question’ without some sort of intense barbarity and horror from the Inquisition to the Holocaust. Europe, in particular ‘Great’ Britain, the masters of divide and conquer ‘solved’ the problem by supporting the radical, terrorist, extremist Zionists and their mad plan to resettle the ‘homeland.’”
Building a Judaism beyond zionism requires fighting against and unlearning the violent socialization that taught us to find safety through systems and nation-states that only produce death. This work is about excavating robust traditions of Jewish anti-zionism, socialism, and ritual. I have learned so much from my community about tradition(s) that hold bountiful models for interpersonal accountability and repair / reparations that don’t rely on punishment (teshuvah), traditions that go by the lunar calendar that eschew modern/ capitalism notions of time, and expansive visions of gender diversity that cannot be contained to a binary. White settler colonialism flattens and erases those histories. I have found ritual organizing a really beautiful and welcoming way to nurture a culture of belonging and build trust so that we can take bigger risks together to fight for liberation for all people.
Why this is important
In closing, we want to extend our gratitude to community members like CP. As many of you all know, Muslim Women For began with the deep friendship of three women and is fueled today through the links of community members, intergenerational conversations, grassroots organizers, coalition support, elected representatives, allies, family members, and other comrades in the work. We pride ourselves in our transparency within our own networks as well as to the broader community we serve. We hope that CP’s work can serve as a model for white folks supporting the work of Muslims, Black folks and more broadly, people of color.