What does it mean to attend a school with a “rich history” when that richness is overwhelmingly literal, and overwhelmingly concentrated in the hands of white men? When our fight songs were written about these men, our yearly traditions shaped by these men, and the majority of our housing was built for these men, how can women, people of color, working-class people and queer people find a way to feel relevant? How can we love this place without reservations?
The truth is, we can’t. We can’t love Harvard without reservations because we can’t wholeheartedly love the society that produced Harvard, and that Harvard in turn helps shape. Harvard’s history–and its present–is not an accident or an anomaly. It’s the product of systems that empower some people while oppressing others, systems that shape much of the world we live in today. As Harvard students, we’re inheritors of the vast social and educational privilege that comes with attending an institution like this. We have a responsibility to acknowledge this privilege. And we also have the responsibility to use it, to speak.
Our Manifesta is rooted in an engagement with these contradictions, but it grows from there. Above all, it comes from a feminism aimed at criticizing global systems of oppression that distort the way that all of us live our lives. It is about gender, but it is simultaneously and necessarily about race, class, sexuality, ability. It is a struggle that exists within the context of other struggles, and intersects with them, and has little meaning in and of itself without these intersections. And it requires the voices of many to keep moving forward.
In this, our Manifesta, we offer some of those voices.