This article was written by Global Women’s Strike and Payday for the French website Ritimo, where it was printed in the June 2017 edition of their magazine Passerelle, “Féminismes ! Maillons forts du changement social” (“Feminisms! Strong links for social change”), in both French and Spanish. Below is the article in English.
By Phoebe Jones, Global Women’s Strike, and Eric Gjertsen, Payday men’s network
“Holding a vigil for Lt Watada on the street, we met two mothers who held a weekly picket of the city Department of Human Services (DHS) to demand their children back. This is when the DHS Give Us Back Our Children group was formed. We soon found that Philadelphia at the time had the highest rate of taking children of any city of its size in the country. One in ten children in the city have dealings with the child welfare system, and the rate of removal and adoption of Black children is disproportionately high. Lack of housing can mean losing your kids, and Philadelphia has an ongoing housing crisis.
“In the course of organizing, we trained ourselves in a number of ways. We learned how to make a video, and used this to tell the story from the point of view of the mothers – which has rarely been done. (You can view it here). We learned how to deal with hostile social workers and lawyers who refuse to speak to their clients. (The lack of accountable lawyers, even women, continues to be a deep problem. They are not used to taking direction from poor women or confronting the state on their behalf.) We learned how to gather support inside and outside of court, when to organise public demonstrations, and how to educate and cultivate journalists and academics. We stuck to our principles of self-help, and insisted that the women and men who come for ‘help’ write down a concise summary of their own case so they can work with others but be in charge of the direction.”