By Preeti Mangala Shekar
It takes former Congresswoman and Presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney to show that politics and activism could well be two faces of a mirror. And as a politician-activist, she reflects a bold and audacious honesty that both activists and politicians envy and seek to learn from. As a progressive journalist-activist, both within and beyond the walls of the Global Fund for Women,I have always been drawn to Cynthia McKinney's ability to walk her talk and speak out against injustice.
Spirit of Humanity: Eight Days in an Israeli Jail Just returned from her second trip to Gaza on the Spirit of Humanity boat, Cynthia McKinney's misadventures in Israel were widely reported by the international media and grudgingly acknowledged by a right-wing influenced US media that Cynthia wittily points out is really a “special-interest media.” Cynthia spoke at various events in the Bay Area as part of her Triumph Tour that was also a fundraiser for the Bayview, a San Francisco-based newspaper. No surprise that Cynthia would also stand up and support a progressive publication like the Bayview that also highlights injustices and marginalization faced by low income communities of color in the US, and particularly the African American community in the bay area.
Allergic to Injustice The lowest, most impossible moments in history need not just political will but a sense of humor to resist and reverse it. “We are struggling to keep universal health care an agenda on the table. But we also need to build our allergies,” noted Cynthia in her eloquent speech. We need to be allergic to injustices in our community, our nation and the world. “I am always asked why, as a Black woman from Atlanta, I feel so passionate about Palestine. I am not Arab, I am not Muslim, I am not Jewish. But I do so because I have a conscience. I have a commitment to make peace and justice the inevitable reality we should all work towards.”
Wean Government from Militarization In an email interview with me during the tour last week, Cynthia noted why it's important to hold the Obama government accountable: “We need to wean our government away from militarization. For that we need a strong grassroots movement that will direct resources from war and defense.”
Triumph Tour: The Triumph of Solidarity Though Cynthia's trip itself was not quite a triumph: “The children of Gaza never got the crayons that we were taking them along with other supplies,” Cynthia's “Triumph Tour” of the Bay Area to share her experiences of her trip is an indicator that ultimately for truth to triumph, we need to work towards a grassroots-led movement that walks the talk justice and accountability. This is a belief shared by progressive activists and organizations alike: at the Global Fund for Women, we recognize that true social change can only happen with women's leadership.
Preeti Mangala Shekar is on the Communications Team at the Global Fund for Women.