Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack! Houston
International Women’s Day, 2017
In Houston the IWD celebration, organized by Freedom Road Socialist Organization/FightBack!, educated and motivated activists and students as well as some new to the struggle. Kinsey Tamsin, a trans woman and FRSO activist, spoke about daily obstacles trans people face. She praised socialist Cuba for the tremendous progress made through CENESEX, the Cuban National Center for Sex Education, on LGBTQ+ rights, including free sex-affirmation operations for trans people. Tamsin also praised Workers World Party member Leslie Feinberg as a trailblazer for trans liberation.
Nikki Luellen, who works against police brutality, spoke eloquently about the horror that continues after people are murdered by the police. She cited the struggle of the spouse of Alva Braziel, who was shot and killed by Houston cops in the summer of 2016. Not a single cop has been charged, and the family is still fighting for justice. Luellen, a FRSO member and Texas Southern University student, works with Black Movement Media.
Speaking about several revolutionary women, Sabrina Smith, also with FRSO, focused on Yuri Kochiyama, a U.S. citizen who survived the U.S. internment of Japanese people in camps during World War II. Kochiyama became a strong advocate for Black, Latinx, Native American and Asian-American liberation. Her friend, Malcolm X, died in her arms at the Audubon Ballroom in 1965.
Gloria Rubac, speaking for Workers World Party, gave a history of International Women’s Day and its socialist origins. She explained that the material basis for women’s oppression was the beginning of class society, and how that oppression will only end when the capitalist ruling class is replaced by a socialist revolution.
Rubac’s talk focused on five women. Emma Tenayuca, a San Antonio labor union organizer, was also a Communist Party USA member in the 1930s and 1940s. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, an African-American trans woman and a Latinx trans woman, respectively, fought back against New York City cops in the 1969 Stonewall Rebellion. Assata Shakur, a Black Liberation Army member, was framed on murder charges, imprisoned and escaped to liberation in Cuba. Leslie Feinberg, a friend and comrade of Rubac, wrote the first Marxist analysis of trans liberation. Feinberg’s writings, read worldwide, include “Rainbow Solidarity with Cuba,” “Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to RuPaul” and “Stone Butch Blues.”
FRSO leader Fabian Sneevliet updated the struggle of Rasmea Odeh, the Palestinian activist and former political prisoner in Israel facing a new U.S. trial for “immigration irregularities.” Odeh’s sentence was vacated, and experts will be allowed to testify on the role of torture in relation to her conviction.
During the discussion, Janie Torres spoke about her brother, Jose Campos Torres, who was murdered by Houston cops 40 years ago. She and her family are organizing the Second Annual Joe Campos Torres Solidarity Walk for Future Generations on the anniversary of his death in May. Torres invited Braziel’s spouse and her family to participate. — Written by Joanne Gavin.