Tuesday, January 9, 2018

The other women at the Golden Globes were activists

Ai-jen Poo, right, was a special guest of Meryl Streep at the Golden Globe awards show last Sunda.

IT WAS HARD to miss the unfamiliar women at the Golden Globes awards held Sunday (Jan. 7). They were seated up front in seats usually reserved for Hollywood's most well-known stars. 

The unfamiliar faces were women activists invited as guests of luminaries such as Meryl Streep, Amy Poehler, Emma Stone, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Michelle Williams, Susan Sarandon and Emma Watson.

It was in keeping with the unofficial theme of the night sparked by the #MeToo movement and the sexual harassment and misconduct that powerful men foist on women, including the entertainment industry.

The activists stood out in contrast to the glamorous stars of the motion picture and television industries because  seven of the eight were women of color and the eighth was a lesbian, tennis legend Billie Jean King. 
Recognition of minorities is still a hurdle the entertainment industries need to tackle. The evening underlined that situation with only four awards given to people of color: Aziz Ansari for his acting in Master of None, Guillermo del Toro for directing The Shape of Water, Sterling K. Brown for his role in This Is Us and the first black woman to win the Cecil B. DeMille award, Oprah Winfrey, whose rousing acceptance speech was a rallying cry to end sexual harassment and abuse.

The invited guests were Tarana Burke, senior director of the nonprofit Girls for Gender Equity and founder of the #MeToo movement; Marai Larasi, executive director of Imkaan, a British network of organizations working to end violence against black and minority women; Rosa Clemente, a community organizer focused on political prisoners, voter engagement and Puerto Rican independence; Monica Ramirez, who fights sexual violence against farmworkers and pushes for Latina empowerment; and Calina Lawrence, a Suquamish Tribe member, singer and activist for, among other causes, Native American treaty and water rights.

Among the activists were two Asian/Americans, Ai-jen Poo and Saru Jayaraman.

Ai-jen Poo, who was invited by Meryl Streep, is the executive director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) and the co-director of Caring Across Generations. She is an award-winning activist, thought leader, and social innovator, and a leading voice in domestic workers’ rights and family care advocacy.

As co-founder of the Domestic Workers United (DWU), a city-wide, multiracial organization of domestic workers, she help lead the way to the passage of the nation’s first Domestic Workers Bill of Rights in 2010, historic legislation that extends basic labor protections to over 200,000 domestic workers in New York state.

In 2011, Ai-jen co-created the national Caring Across Generations campaign to ensure access to affordable care for the nation’s aging population and access to quality jobs for the caregiving workforce.

Ms. Poo’s numerous accolades include recognition as a 2014 MacArthur Foundation “genius” fellow, a 2013 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and was named to TIME magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2012, as well as Newsweek’s 150 Fearless Women list that same year.

In 2015 she was recognized as one of Fortune.com’s World’s 50 Greatest Leaders and the NonProfit Times Power & Influence Top 50 lists in 2015 and 2016. Her work has been featured in many publications, including Marie Claire, The New York Times, Washington Post, TIME, Glamour, and CNN.com. She is author of The Age of Dignity: Preparing for the Elder Boom in a Changing America.

Amy Poehler hosted Saru Jayaraman.
Amy Poehler's guest was Saru Jayaraman, who is the co-founder and co-director of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley. 

After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC, which now has more than 18,000 worker members, 200 employer partners, and several thousand consumer members in a dozen states nationwide. The story of Saru and her co-founder's work founding ROC has been chronicled in the book The Accidental American.

Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was profiled in the New York Times "Public Lives" section in 2005, named one of Crain's "40 Under 40" in 2008, was 1010 Wins' "Newsmaker of the Year" and New York Magazine's "Influentials" of New York City. 

She was listed in CNN's "Top10 Visionary Women" and recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, and a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015. 

Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door, a national bestseller, and has appeared on CNN with Soledad O'Brien, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, Melissa Harris Perry and UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams. Her most recent book is Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University Press, 2016).

Before the Golden Globe ceremonies, the women activists, representing women who don't have the high-profile  or the media platforms of their entertainment hosts, released a joint statement: 
As longtime organizers, activists and advocates for racial and gender justice, it gives us enormous pride to stand with the members of the Time’s Up campaign who have stood up and spoken out in this groundbreaking historical moment. We have each dedicated our lives to doing work that supports the least visible, most marginalized women in our diverse contexts. We do this work as participants in movements that seek to affirm the dignity and humanity of every person.

Too much of the recent press attention has been focused on perpetrators and does not adequately address the systematic nature of violence including the importance of race, ethnicity and economic status in sexual violence and other forms of violence against women. Our goal in attending the Golden Globes is to shift the focus back to survivors and on systemic, lasting solutions. Each of us will be highlighting legislative, community-level and interpersonal solutions that contribute to ending violence against women in all our communities. It is our hope that in doing so, we will also help to broaden conversations about the connection to power, privilege and other systemic inequalities.

Many of us identify as survivors of sexual harassment, assault and violence ourselves and we believe we are nearing a tipping point in transforming the culture of violence in the countries where we live and work. It’s a moment to transform both the written and unwritten rules that devalue the lives and experiences of women. We believe that people of all genders and ages should live free of violence against us. And, we believe that women of color, and women who have faced generations of exclusion—Indigenous, Black, Brown and Asian women, farmworkers and domestic workers, disabled women, undocumented, and queer and trans women—should be at the center of our solutions. This moment in time calls for us to use the power of our collective voices to find solutions that leave no woman behind.

This past year was a powerful one in the fight for gender equity and against sexual violence against women—from the Women’s March to the re-emergence of “me too” as a viral hashtag that brought more than ten years of survivor-centered work to the mainstream. There is still much work to do, and many hands required to do it. We want to encourage all women—from those who live in the shadows to those who live in the spotlight, from all walks of life, and across generations—to continue to step forward and know that they will be supported when they do.

The #TimesUp initiative joins an ever-growing collective of organizations, movements, and leaders working to end gender-based violence. We look forward to partnering with them and others to organize, support all survivors, and find solutions that ensure a future where all women and all people can live and work with dignity.