Alicia Garza’s phone never stops ringing. The Black Lives Matter co-founder now leads Supermajority, a women’s political-training organization, along with a roster of female organizers including Cecile Richards, the former Planned Parenthood Federation of America president. The two have dedicated their efforts to building women’s political power in the U.S., a mandate that means near-constant communication with interested folks across the country.
Speaking yesterday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, Garza spoke about the kinds of women who are most likely to reach out to her with a new enthusiasm for political education or community organizing. “What I see in terms of people who are stepping forward … are people who are not only dismayed about not being involved or not being engaged in the political process, but people who feel like the values that are leading this country right now are off track,” Garza said. “I will be super honest with y’all, I am not interested in building the capacity of people who are in office that want to take away my health care. And I don’t care if you’re a woman or not.” She continued:
I think the people who are stepping forward right now ... want their values represented in such a way where it makes sense what it means to be an American, where it makes sense what it means to be a woman in power, where it makes sense what it means to be a black woman who’s leading. That’s not just about having people in seats from different demographic groups; it’s about having those people with a vision of what is possible for the country.
Garza’s more focused, values-driven approach to building political power isn’t a new one—coalitions have employed this strategy across various social movements. But even now, as #Resistance efforts attract more mainstream support than many progressive organizations have previously received (and spur what Richards called “a political revolution”), it can still be controversial to prioritize training and mobilizing specific groups of women rather than wider groups of the electorate. The divide between targeted approaches like Supermajority’s and broad-based efforts remains a fascinating reflection of the tensions inherent in Trump-era women’s organizing.