Empress and Her City: A March for Black Women
A lot of thoughts cross my mind when I think about my place in activism and how I advocate for what I believe in. It begins with a voice, and the choice to be present in spaces that need support. So what i’m about to write about and share is my experience in advocacy. Specifically on September 29th for the Black Women's March of 2018.
I've been sick for about a week, I took a day off work which I regret because I can't afford to. I was looking forward to this march because I need to believe that social change is going somewhere outside the void of social media. Facebook & activism is consistently at odds with me; it feels like the very platform is nothing but support every aspect of white agenda and propaganda. Social media activism is tiring and draining, and believe me when I say every time I am present in that space I want to disappear from it all.
Stepping onto the train from Greenbelt metro station, even though it was running late, I was still anticipating that feeling of being there at this march. I was scared for a variety of reasons. I remembered my training for when I volunteered at the March for Racial justice just last year, and what they said about counter protests and handling police. I was worried that a march so heavily present with a message of activism for black women would be met with police violence.
We were safe, all us of were and I was grateful for that. Each time I saw a truck selling "make America great again" hats in that angry red I was nervous. As we walked to the rally in the National Mall, I saw a small crowd gathered. A part of me experienced disappointment, maybe because seeing how loud and vibrant the woman's march was, and all of DC a sea of pink pussy hats. I thought perhaps now I would see that same response here. Still, each step forward I knew that I needed to be there because in space that has little representation it matters.
Sage is the second thing I noticed. A black woman was speaking, and she was commanding that we listen and be present in this space. A part of me was enthralled that such a presence could direct a crowd and the other part was prepared to listen. The women who spoke on the stage told us stories of survival. They told us about why the struggle to fight as black femme has been long and hard. They knew that each of us was tired but yet we were here. Yes, a few allies were there, but for the most part, the crowd I witnessed was black femmes. My heart reached a pinnacle of relief to know I wasn’t the only one tired in this fight, and to know so many in my area were active.
It was healing in many ways, but often the rally was heavy. In this space, what I felt both as an empath and black woman could be written as arduous. Hope, despair, kinship, agitation, confidence, anger, and pride all mingling with smoke from the burning sage. Over and over the phrase “We will win” was said, and I was blessed. Blessed by a simple call and response that told me to not give up. I needed that.
From the National Mall to Freedom Plaza we marched. Feet to the pavement, hearts in unison for the cause that Black Women led and that their voices needed to be heard. We marched by the Trump hotel, and we stopped to express our discontent with its symbolism in DC and in our lives. It reminded me of the last march I participated in, when we all stopped to show our outrage. There wasn't security outside of the hotel this time. Perhaps, because they realized that America was in a state of agitation and nothing can stop that until change is made. Another theory that circulated my head, was perhaps Trump wasn't afraid of black women and femmes marching, because he is so empowered by white Americans and their ignorance. He is relentless in his poor treatment of minorities but that is something that white America finds themselves comfortable with most days. Anyway, what surprised me is while we did pause briefly by his hotel what amazed me is we created a circle in the middle of the street. The empaths and healers of the march gathered in the center and they said their names.
If you follow the news, social media, you might recall what I am referring to. They said the names of victims wrongfully killed and who died during this cause. "Say their names" I didn't realize how powerful, how uneasy and eerie it was to hear their names shouted and said. I was fortunate to stand in the front and watch as healers led us to remember the names of the Black women and femmes who passed away in the corrupt system we call America. Each name said reminded me why I was there each name cut into me and sewed me back up. The list is long. I think that's the part that hurts the most, is how injustice has persisted despite the advocacy and actions against it. This moment was heavy but necessary.
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I was fortunate I wasn't alone during the march, I was accompanied by my darling Aquarius who marched proudly next to me. I was scared, worried, agitated, and empowered to march. When we arrived in Freedom Plaza I stayed to listen and sat letting my damn bum foot/ankle rest from all the strain. I realized that this march was more important to me because as a survivor of sexual assault I don't have the peace of a judicial court or anything like that. I'm not sure I will ever again encounter the men of those experiences and for that I am grateful, but I needed this. I needed to march against those experiences and a world that silences black femmes from expressing trauma, and injustice. I've been put down quite a lot about my experiences and how I have handled them being home. I do feel more often alone than naught, despite my challenge to secure community and brave spaces. The march reminded me of the journey, and why I am still here. Why I stay alive and fight so desperately even though I am so tired, and weary.
I did stay in D.C. for most of the day after, seeing the portrait gallery and just enjoying time with someone I care about. It was nice, a peace after the agitation and purpose of me being present in D.C. I encourage anyone reading this to check out the Black Women's Blueprint and see what you can do to empower Black Femmes that you know. There are so many of us silenced, despite how much we fight. I encourage you to also reflect on how you handle Black Femmes who are emoting and processing trauma in your life, do you dismiss them or do you listen? Think about what you can change to empower instead of erasing or dismissing women like me suffering surviving sexual assault. Black Women Matter, and need to be heard.
We deserve to be Heard. - Jade
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