I’d avoided writing this post out a desire to avoid further conflict, but since misinformation is being spread about the reason Columbus will not host a May Walk for Choice, I have decided to share the story in order to put that misinformation to rest. I do not expect anyone to accept my story as absolute truth, but I will back it up to the best of my ability and ask only that concerned readers consider it as they form their own opinions. So to begin: No, Columbus will not host a Walk for Choice event this month. Yes, one had been planned. You may have seen it on Facebook. Yes, an event will still take place on the same day, but it will occur under a different name and is not associated with the national Walk for Choice. This is why.
The organizers of the February event reported serious apprehensions about working with Raven Geary, the founder of Walk for Choice. She demanded to be added as an admin on the event page, and made changes to the page without requesting permission from the individuals actually hosting the event. She claimed to me on her Facebook wall (unless she’s now deleted her comment) that it is because it was mismanaged. I don’t believe this. The Columbus event was one of the largest in the country. In April we encountered similar issues. One of my fellow organizers stated that they were not comfortable with her management style. Raven then refused to work with anyone at all in the city of Columbus, demanded that we change the name of the event and refused a request to mediate the conflict with this particular organizer. Nor would she agree to work with anyone else in the city. The reason, she stated, is because Columbus “can’t handle being told what to do.”
Let me make this clear: The city of Columbus does not exist for Raven Geary to order around. Though saddened by her refusal to mediate, we agreed to change the event. It is not, as she has stated on her Facebook, an inability to stick with “one movement.” I remain unclear as to what this “movement” is. If it is the pro-choice movement, then it is not defined by Raven Geary. Furthermore, Ohio is facing some of the most stringent anti-choice measures in the country. Our event must be tailored to address those measures. What works in Chicago does not necessarily work in Columbus and that is why autonomy is so important. Her statements indicate a lack of respect for her fellow organizers. So does her continued effort to spread misinformation. When I called her out on her statements, she blocked me from her Facebook. Clearly, this is her right. But it is very telling that she continues to avoid substantiating her allegations, and would rather insult anyone who holds her accountable. I was told to go work for Fox News.
I have the conversation that occurred among Raven, myself and the other organizer saved to anyone who wishes to verify my side of the story. The Facebook conversation on her wall should be viewable to any of her Facebook friends, unless she has deleted it. And I am sharing this story because I am convinced there is no room for her attitude in the progressive movement. A respect for the individual and an emphasis on inclusivity should set us apart from the right. The movement defined by Raven Geary is nearly indistinguishable, save for different talking points. To other organizers: work with whoever want. But if you feel that you’re being patronized, stand up for yourself. Demand a change in leadership if you feel it would better serve the pro-choice cause. We can’t be an effective answer to the right if we don’t treat each with respect. If you’re organizing to serve your ego, get out. We don’t need that. And it’s pretty damn hard to believe otherwise when your response to criticism is to erase it.
So that’s it, really. That’s the story behind the reason Columbus is hosting a March for Reproductive Justice, and not a Walk for Choice. Please contact me here on the blog if you’d like the evidence for my claims.