Dear Florida NOW Community,
Florida NOW must work in partnership and solidarity with Black people and people of color. This partnership and solidarity means that we believe - and stand with - women of color. As recently reported in
The Daily Beast and
Jezebel, women of color have shared their accounts of disturbing, racist behavior and actions by Toni Van Pelt, the President of the National Organization of Women and within FL NOW.
Today I, Kim Porteous, am writing on behalf of the FL NOW Leadership Board to share with you what we demand from National NOW in response to these unacceptable, racist actions, what we believe our role is as FL NOW members, and the journey to create restorative justice.
FL NOW is calling on Toni Van Pelt, the National NOW President, to Resign
The Florida NOW board voted to ask Toni to resign immediately, joining many State Presidents and National NOW board members who are also calling for Toni’s resignation. Toni has lost our confidence to not only carry out, but to represent the mission of our organization.
Just like we ask our members to hold their elected officials, workplaces and institutions accountable, we have to model what that looks like in our own organization too. If you would like to join us in asking Toni to resign you can email her at
firstname.lastname@example.org. At this moment, 10 National NOW board members have asked her to resign.
FL NOW’s is making an overdue commitment towards authentically centering racial justice in our work.
The information in the Daily Beast article
"Don't Forget the White Women" revealed serious issues of racism experienced by two women of color when they spoke at FL NOW Chapters. The experiences these women had were disturbing, painful and unquestionably racist and FL NOW is accountable.
With our accountability comes responsibility. We know that reading the information will cause pain and maybe even fear for NOW's future. I hope you are more unsettled about the pain these women experienced, than the fears about our organization. Our organization will not fail from news articles like these, it will fail if we fail to respond!
What does responding look like? Great Question!
The truth is, we do not know yet. We have much work to learn and create a plan for restorative justice to repair the damaged caused. FL NOW is committed to the journey to restorative justice, and we will be providing information to you in the coming weeks.
Until then, we urge our members to use this opportunity for self reflection about how we can do better and aim to be as transparent as possible. As leaders, modeling equity means being proactive and explicit about recognizing our privilege.
Please feel free to email me at
or call if you have any questions, or feedback, we are happy to talk more.
Kim Porteous, Florida NOW President