Ways we can all be community leaders

By Nikki Fortunato Bas

Member, Oakland City Council

Good morning, Oakland!

I am so honored to be your new City Councilmember, representing the district that we are in right now.

I’m also proud to be Oakland’s first Filipina Councilmember.

We all know that there is an electric wave of progressive women and women of color winning elected office. Can you feel the earth quake? It’s happening right here at home with me and my fellow Councilmember Sheng Thao, the first Hmong city councilmember in the state of California. We are the Oakland women’s wave!

As we march today and also honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr this weekend, we are reflecting on the words of Coretta Scott King: “The woman power of this nation can be the power which makes us whole.”

We as women leaders care about our communities. We lead with values and a commitment to: equity, inclusion and compassion.

We as women leaders believe in people-powered government with real community participation. That means we make decisions with you, not for you. From the White House and Congress, to the State House, City Hall and the School Board. This is OUR government.

We care for our community, our city, like a mother cares for her child. When there’s a rainstorm or the air is filled with dangerous smoke, we make sure our children have safety and shelter.

Here in Oakland, the women power that will make us whole recognizes that housing is a human right – every single person has the right to shelter. We know more and more working mothers can’t pay the rent or are living in their cars and on the streets. That’s inhumane and we commit ourselves to making sure women and all our neighbors have the basics of shelter and a place to call home.

We, as women leaders, are healing our own trauma and calling for an end to violence. In the Fall of 2016, when Trump boasted about his sexual assault in the infamous locker room tapes, I came out as a sexual assault survivor when I blocked Trump Tower in New York City with other survivors. I had to talk with my daughter about consent and violence. These are conversations we are having with our children at younger ages, every day, because of the patriarchy and misogyny that we must break through.

All of us, not just women and girls, but also trans folks, men and boys deserve to lead lives free of violence. We deserve safety in our homes, workplaces, schools and out in our communities.

There are so many ways that we can all be leaders in our communities. From getting involved in our neighborhood, school or union; to serving on a local board or commission; to running and winning elected office! To campaigning to be a delegate to our political party.

We are the Oakland Women’s Wave. We are mothers, daughters, parent leaders, neighborhood activists, elected leaders. We are the power that will make us whole!

When we fight, we win!