Tina Ngo: “I’m always trying to ensure that we are actually uplifting voices of our working class, trans and of-color sisters. Intersectionality isn’t just a look. It’s a proclamation.”
International Women’s Day is Wednesday, and women’s rights advocates are organizing strikes and protests with the intention of highlighting how crucial women-identified people are to the work-force and within our communities especially in terms of paid, underpaid and unpaid labor.
It is unfortunate that our value as human beings is intrinsically tied to our productivity. However, striking and not engaging in any labor is an effective way to force people to confront the many ways in which women are the backbone of our social structures — without being properly recompensed for our contributions.
How do advocates and organizers make movements like these accessible and available to those who most need the rights we are fighting for? How do we keep our movements intersectional?
Fighting for upper-middle-class white women within the corporate world so that they can make as much as white men do isn’t radical or revolutionary. Some people are trying to break glass ceilings while others are just trying to survive.
I asked Tina Ngo, co-organizer of Philly Socialist’s International Women’s Day Protest, how she uses her own experiences to shape intersectional resistance.
WYV: What does the strike and march mean to you?
TN: For me, The International Women’s Day march is a day of political celebration and commemoration. International Women’s Day defines the term, “the personal is political.” It addresses how our identities as women are inherently connected and political. It’s a day for vulnerable women like me to continue the tradition of fighting back, and fighting back hard.
International Women’s Day isn’t just another day to celebrate womanhood, but also to display international solidarity. The march, at its core, means anti-imperialism, anti-capitalism, anti-white supremacy and anti-patriarchy.
WYV: Like any movement, the essence of intersectionality is key. When organizing as a woman of color, what are some of your concerns with the march or the strike, if you have any?
TN: My main focus/concern is white feminism. We have seen so many times white feminism co-opting movements led by Black, Latina and Indigenous women. The liberal, white feminist agenda is a colossal threat to revolutionary change. In order to dismantle oppressive systems, we need unity among women and we also need women to accept leaderships of color and non-cis leaderships.
It’s one thing to have a protest filled with different women, it’s another thing to actually appoint those women in leadership roles. I’m always trying to ensure that middle/upper class, cis, white voices aren’t at the center and that we are actually uplifting voices of our working class, trans and of-color sisters. Intersectionality isn’t just a look. It’s a proclamation.
WYV: How does your own background affect your activism?
TN: I am constantly trying to connect my roots to my struggle. There is a lack of participation from the Asian community in contemporary politics, specifically from the Southeast Asian community.
Our communities are still ridden with war memories and trauma. Our grandparents and parents still refuse to talk about what happened. Intergenerational trauma defines us, but we need to channel that pain and take actual, political actions.
I want Southeast Asian girls to understand that this struggle against the capitalistic, patriarchal system has always been theirs. When I show up, I’m showing up for all the kids who should and could be there but can’t and refuse to be. I want Southeast Asian girls to really look at me and see themselves because we used to be war heroes.