Intersectionality. 

The word refers to the complex and cumulative way that the effects of different forms of discrimination – such as racism, sexism and classism – combine, overlap and intersect in the experiences of marginalized people or groups, according to Merriam-Webster.

Or: We’re all in this together.

It’s the new word in the women’s movement, and I learned it from my granddaughter Eliza Ayres.  Coined by one of her heroes, legal scholar Dr. Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, it was repeated by Dr. Crenshaw herself and several other speakers at Sunday’s Power to the Polls Rally in Las Vegas.

Eliza was thrilled to see Dr. Crenshaw and I was thrilled to be with Eliza when she saw her.

Social justice activism is in our DNA. At Eliza’s age I was protesting the Vietnam War, boycotting grapes and supporting civil rights. At the Nevada Women’s Political Caucus in the early 1980’s, I taught young women candidates, including former Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, how to run for office and win. She ran, ran, ran, and won, won, won.

When Eliza’s mother, my daughter Marcy, was in the sixth grade, she demonstrated with my political activist friends, including Renee Diamond, in the massive Equal Rights Amendment March in Washington D.C.  At UMass Amherst, she protested the CIA recruiting on campus by occupying the administration building. She was the only happy face in the crowd on the front page of the UMass newspaper.

Eliza Ayres at 2017 Women’s March

Eliza Ayres at 2017 Women’s March

The results of a near-fatal brain aneurysm kept Marcy from marching in last year’s women’s march, so we marched for her. Eliza joined the march in San Francisco with her handmade “Keep the US out of my Uterus” poster,  I marched in Las Vegas in my Hillary-tribute white pantsuit, and Eliza’s sister Addy marched in Mexico.

This year, my partners Helen Foley and Melissa Warren and I were asked to help launch Power to the Polls, a national mobilization to register a million voters before the 2018 mid-term election. Las Vegas was chosen as the kick-off site because Nevada is a battleground state and has successfully elected women to lead on all levels of government. Half of our congressional delegation, 40 percent of our legislators and the mayors of our three largest cities are women.  Nevada is proudly ahead of other states in this category.

Eliza just had to be here with me.

The morning after she landed, we went on a nine-hour tour with the PBS Newshour crew assigned to cover the rally. First stop was Vegenation Café in downtown Las Vegas where we had set up an interview for our longtime family friend Rose McKinney-James, who served as honorary co-chair of the Women’s March rally. Then it was off to The LGBTQ Community Center to meet national and local Power to the Polls leaders who were also interviewed by the national network.

Next we were treated to a fascinating visit and interview with Elaine Wynn, one of the most respected philanthropists in Nevada history, and well-known nationally for her support of education, the arts and support of women seeking a seat at the table, whether in business or politics. She not only lent her iconic name as Honorary Chair of the rally, but she and Punam Mather, her foundation’s executive director, worked closely with organizers to make it a success.

Eliza was in awe to be in the company these incredible, powerful women dedicated to social justice.

On rally day, we got up and out before dawn to report for duty at the stadium. Eliza was assigned to media check-in where she assisted in giving credentials to more than 200 reporters and photographers from all over the country and more than a few foreign media outlets.

It was a big deal. Nearly 20,000 “marchers” filed into the stadium for a five-hour program that starred speakers like Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards and Dr. Crenshaw, and entertainers like Faith Evans and Ledisi. 

And Cher!

We jumped up and screamed in unison with everyone else, and Eliza ran to the stage to get a picture of the idol we shared across our age span.  Cher did not sing, but she did not disappoint. “I just want to tell you girls that in 1776 the union was formed.  In 1920 we got the vote. If you don’t vote, you don’t have a voice. It’s time to step up to the plate, and to deserve it and to own it.

My granddaughter owns it, and so do her 20-something friends. As disappointed as I may be with political action and inaction today, I’m confident that Eliza’s generation will rise up and take us to new levels of enlightenment and social justice.

It’s their turn, and their time.

 

Once a crusading journalist, Linda Faiss is a former editor of the Valley Times, which blew the lid off the Mob in Las Vegas in the 1970s. Linda worked feverishly to help organize and promote this year’s Women’s March “Power to the Polls” rally. 

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