There have been serious concerns raised about the lack of a Black feminist presence in the Women Unite* collection, a new initiative of the Rise Up Feminist Archive.
Rise Up acknowledges that we should not have launched the Women Unite project without the inclusion of Black feminist voices and that we should have worked harder to collaborate with Black feminists on interviews for the Collection. The significant activism of Black women in the time period covered by this project (1970s-1990s) cannot and should not be overlooked. Not having this history represented in the Women Unite Collection reflects and reproduces white supremacy.
For this, we truly apologize.
We also apologize to and thank those of you who brought this issue forward. It should not be up to those experiencing racism and other forms of oppression to have to raise their voices, and we recognize the time and labour it takes to do this. Thank you for your work, and we are sorry that we put you in a position where it had to be done.
We have now taken down the Women Unite Collection and relevant social media posts. We have also advised all the interviewees about the steps we are taking. Further, we are developing a plan and a timeline to add interviews to the Women Unite Collection that reflect the significant and powerful voices and contributions of Black feminists.
Rise Up’s work takes place in a context of ongoing colonialism, racism, heteropatriarchy, class inequalities, ableism and other forms of structural violence and oppression. We are committed to learning from movements against colonialism and racism and it is a priority for Rise Up to highlight those whose feminist activism continues to be erased.
We are committed to learning from this mistake and to addressing the need for a more inclusive approach to our work archiving and capturing feminist histories going forward.
The Rise Up Collective
*Women Unite is a new initiative creating a record of key moments of activism in the women’s movement in Toronto from the 1970s to 1990s. Rise Up has conducted 25 video interviews with activists adding new depth to the materials already in the Rise Up archive. These videos feature topics including Indigenous women’s status rights, reproductive rights, the founding of Women Against Violence Against Women, anti-racist organizing for International Women’s Day, disability rights and activism, immigrant women’s organizing, and justice for women in federal prisons to name a few.