The March for Black Women…Lit a Fire Under San Diego
On Saturday, March 10, 2018, over 300 San Diegans of all ages, sizes, races, and religions showed up on the corner of Euclid Ave. and Logan in Southeast San Diego to stand in solidarity with Black Women. The March for Black Women San Diego (#M4BWSD) made Black women proud, made white “allies” do soul searching and woke up the revolutionary spirit in me. From the very first planning meeting, the organizers, Black Lives Matter, made it clear, that this march would be planned and led by Black Women. White “allies” were not welcome at the first meeting, not allowed to speak at follow up meetings and then asked to leave the final meetings. The hardcore position took me by surprise because I am usually the only African American in meetings with progressives. This was the first time they tried to integrate one of our meetings. Although I was surprised by the no white people rule, I was also relieved. After suffering from what I now know is “Token Fatigue,” I was tired of explaining myself, defending my positions and trying to find compromise with white feminists who actually never have to compromise their white privilege to make me feel more comfortable. M4BWSD started with a rally led by Christina and Nyisha from Black Lives Matter. Only Black women from the community were asked to speak. They were chosen because they had real-life experiences and were not professional speakers.
As a former television host, public speaker and health advocate, I am asked to speak and paid to speak at events. Well, this was a time when Black women who normally do not get asked to speak, got to speak their truth. Seeing Black women organizers standing on a stage made by a woman of color, holding their Black megaphone (Everything Black) and shouting out our demands was powerful. The women who shared their personal stories of being racially profiled, unjustly incarcerated, victims of sex trafficking, and opioid addiction brought tears to our eyes. A transgender woman spoke and shared her soul along with a member of Generation Justice who described the police assault on a fellow Helix High School Student.
Listening to their authentic voices was deeply moving. The experience was a riveting one for all in attendance. I was glad I was not asked to speak, I needed to listen and hear the pain and the reality of women with a very different life experience than my own. A multicultural mix of women of color showed up to support us. It was beautiful to see the Latino women, Asian women and Native American women standing up for Black women. I noticed the younger white women jumped in and enthusiastically attacked their tasks of setting up tables, arranging snacks and being helpers. My comrades from Indivisible provided and set the sound system, canopies, tables, chairs and even served as “Allied Uber” driving us from the starting location at Euclid and Logan to the end at Malcolm X Library.
I found myself pulling some of the white people who showed to help and looked lost, into the mix and giving them assignments, which they were happy to do. I only had two incidents that made me re-think my approach to conversations with white women. First, a young woman had a campaign sign. I explained to her then no campaign signs were allowed. She proceeded to argue with me. I said let me take you over to the organizer. As I led her to her lesson, I whispered, “I was just trying to spare you from being embarrassed and getting your feelings hurt.” When I brought her before the Queen, she got shut down with a look, a tone and authoritative, “No!” that made her quake and shrivel. The next situation was a white woman wearing her group T-shirt. I explained to her that none of us were wearing our affiliated group T-shirts today. She looked unhappy but compiled by zipping up her sweatshirt covering the logo. She then pointed to the Brown Berets and asked if they were Antifa. Anybody who has ever seen Antifa would know they are not Latinos in uniform wearing Brown Berets, but okay.
I explained to her that they were a community group that was there to protect us. She continued to babble on about why they had scarfs on their faces and she felt threatened blah, blah. Again, I explained that we invited them and they accepted our invitation to be peacekeepers. She kept her fearmongering so I just put a pin in it and walked away. A Black female friend told me I should have told her she could leave. Hmmm am I too nice in the face of white women who didn’t get the memo, #TrustBlackWomen? As we marched down Euclid Ave. in the middle of the street, I was struck by the sheer will and power of these young Black women. Again, they made it clear, Black women would be at the front leading the march, and yes that means white people walk behind us. I had to explain to my own allies that it was like a Veteran’s parade, the older decorated Vets are in front as a sign of respect.
The march ended with a powerful outro rally at Malcolm X Library that featured spoken word, music and our Latino protectors, The Brown Berets addressing the crowd. We all left excited, connected and transformed. My lesson was #TrustYoungBlackWomen. They have a vision, a voice and courage. When I was 15 years old I wanted to be a Black Panther. I had an Afro. Something got tamed in me, that raw belief that I can take on the injustice and fight for what I believe in, got softened and made into a more polite form. My inner revolutionary has always been there, but the #M4BWSD woke her up. Thank you, Generation Next! The March for Black women amplified the voice of Black women in San Diego and laid out four demands in order to find solutions and healing. Marchers have the following demands: • Demand 1: Acknowledge and challenge centuries of abuses, that are still happening, including sexual violence, and reproductive violations against black bodies,
especially the brutalization of trans women, black girls, ALL BLACK WOMXN. • Demand 2: Cease and desist all threats of incarceration, incidences of rape and sexual misconduct, police murder, violence against black women, especially trans women and deportation of immigrant women across the country, especially those whose deportation may cost them their lives and safety. • Demand 3: End the threat against the human right to healthcare and increase access, including reproductive healthcare, bar none! • Demand 4: Ensure economic justice for low-income women at the communal and federal level, many of whom are at increased risk of violence due to lack of economic power. • This is the inaugural San Diego March for Black Women; Organizers plan for it to be an annual event and will to continue to meet and make sure their demands are met. This was the inaugural San Diego March for Black Women; Organizers plan for it to be an annual event and will to continue to meet and make sure their demands are met. For more information: WEBSITE: m4bwsd.wordpress.com
Photo Credit: Mike Norris