I'm Rising Up for Justice Today

Executive Director Kimberle Crenshaw is rising up for incarcerated women today at Century Regional Detention! Here are Crenshaw's prepared remarks:

I am rising today because in the words of the great Civil Rights Hero, Fannie Lou Hammer, “I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired.”


I’m sick and tired that, according to UN reports, 1 in 3 women will be raped or beaten in her lifetime—this amounts to over 1 billion worldwide!


Last year over 1 billion people in over 200 countries rose up to end violence against women and girls. This year we are escalating our efforts and focusing on what justice looks like in communities all over the world.


The ONE BILLION RISING FOR JUSTICE campaign recognizes that we cannot end violence against women without ending all intersecting forms of oppression and injustice: poverty, racism, homophobia, war, the plunder of the environment, capitalism, imperialism, and patriarchy.

Standing here, in front of this facility that holds nearly 2,400 women, I’m sick and tired of the fact that there are more than 200,000 women and girls under confinement today, and that the US has the highest rate of incarcerating women in the entire world! The US has only 5% of the world’s population but a staggering 25% of the world’s prisoners.


I’m sick and tired of the fact that most of the incarcerated women are far more likely to be survivors rather than perpetrators of violence, are more likely to have experienced gender-based traumas as precursors to their offenses, are more likely to be here because of an issue related to substance abuse, and are less likely to have access to adequate treatment facilities, or any other support systems to facilitate their re-entry into society upon release from prison.


I’m sick and tired of these issues being ignored, of moneys that should have been saved from re-alignment being reinvested in more prisons rather than bettering the lives of these women.


I’m sick and tired that pretty much everything and everybody is considered “endangered” except the women and girls most at risk of losing their health, livelihood and lives to violence, both physical, mental and economic.

I’m sick and tired of the trickle down justice that we hear from just about everybody, from the President on down, who tell us to wait in line before we prioritize the lives of women and girls.


I’m sick and tired of being told that it is ONLY our boys who are in crisis, when it is young girls who are the fastest growing segment of the juvenile justice system; when it is Black girls 12 and older who have the highest rates of violent victimization when compared to their white and Latina counterparts.


I’m sick and tired of the fact right here in California, Black women are 7.1 percent of the female population, but nearly 70 percent of the girls in detention; and that 85-90 percent of all incarcerated women have reported a history of sexual abuse.


I’m sick and tired that our young black girls are disproportionately arrested for prostitution in Los Angeles—constituting nearly 92% of all arrests in LA in 2010.


I’m sick and tired of the fact that according to Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and The Special Rapporteur of the United Nations, Jails, Prisons and detention facilities often put women at greater risk of more physical and mental abuse, exacerbating the very traumas—physical, emotional and economic—that have entrapped women and girls in the first place.


I am sick and tired of the fact that Native Women have the absolute highest rates of intimate partner abuse (nearly 2 times the average) and yet extending the protections of the VAWA to include them proved to be a controversial proposition.


I’m sick and tired of the fact that trans women of color are routinely housed in male prisons rather than female prisons and, as a result, are raped and abused by guards and inmates at rates higher than cis-men and cis-women.


I’m sick and tired of the fact that even though women of color are more likely to experience intimate partner violence, more likely to suffer from untreated trauma, more likely to be homeless, more likely to be incarcerated, and more likely to be murdered, that we are often shamed into silence by our very own communities, fearful of airing dirty laundry.


I’m sick and tired of the fact that some of our feminist sisters who raise up our mutual vulnerability as women, downplay our differences, ignoring the fact that more police, more prisons, and more punishment are not the universal answers to the problem.


I’m just sick and tired of showing up for others who don’t show up for us.


But . . . standing here, as part of the rising of 1 Billion people all over the world, showing up for each other, my sick and tired is transformed into being fierce and energized.


I am lifted up by the fact that ALL OVER THE WORLD—in over 200 countries and 10,000 risings, other women, children, and the men who love them are casting off any doubt that nothing can change.


We are reaching out, in the spirit of hope, knowing that justice can only come when our global energy shines light into the shadows that breed oppression. And Yes, I’m going to DANCE because we’re sick and tired and the act of dancing is NO Contradiction.


If Rosa Parks could sit down to Stand Up for Justice, then we can certainly dance to the tune of a NEW DAY in which Violence in all its forms is a memory of a world long ago.

So let’s dance . . . and carry that energy, that joy that determination into every space, every place, where justice must be made OUR OWN.