The world is watching a war unfold, bracing itself for what is yet to come. We are deeply inspired by the resilience and courage of the Ukrainian people, horrified by the unabashed aggression and violence of Putin. We mourn for the loss of life, the destruction of communities, a future unknown for so many as they flee, leaving their entire lives behind.
The world is welcoming these refugees, as we should. Yet this glimmer of humanity is marred because of the gross inequity, racism, and xenophobia on display. We (read: the Western world) are being encouraged to open our hearts and our doors to the Ukrainians because they are Christians with blond hair and blue eyes. They are like "us." (For a recap of what Palki Sharma calls "Racist Reportage" click here.)
The truth of the matter is that we don't extend this same level of humanity to people who don't look like "us," act like "us," worship like "us." And we all know who "us" is. There are refugees all over the world, fleeing war, conflict, climate change, and more. They are demonized and categorized as other, not worthy of our graciousness.
It's fitting that the theme for this year's International Women's Day (Tuesday, March 8th) is #BreakTheBias, urging us to take action to build a world free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination; a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive; and a world where difference is valued and celebrated. We can endeavor to reflect upon, challenge, and speak truth to our bias not just in regards to gender, but in all othered identities.
We also can take action to support Ukrainians, not because they are like us, but because they are human beings who are in desperate need of our help. If there's anything we can learn from them, it's that individuals can make a difference. For information about how to donate to vetted organizations, boycotts, events, and more, click here.
It's going to be challenging to celebrate anything this Women's History Month knowing that there are so many women and children suffering at the hands of powerful men, and yet it's always been this way, hasn't it? Rather than retreating, we can take inspiration from Ukrainians and engage, show up, and fight for what we believe in.
~ Jen Gurecki, she/her, CEO of Coalition Snow