To be a Black woman in the United States in 2017 is resilience and restlessness, strain and strength, to hold yourself with pride while resisting provocation. We are achieving ever-greater levels of #BlackGirlMagic and excellence in every field, yet Black women still die in childbirth at three times the rate of white women. We are launching into a future of our own imagining, but also held back by legacies of violence and bias based on our race and gender. We have both the scars and the receipts to prove it.
Black women are making history. The U.S. Open, historically one of the most exclusive confines of high society, saw three Black women reach the semifinals for the first time in decades. And just this past Sunday, Lena Waithe made history at the 69th Emmy Awards becoming the first Black woman ever to win in the category of writing for a comedy series. This is our story and our struggle. Whether it’s on the strength of our backhand or our brilliance we have found a way to reach the pinnacle of achievement, high-jumping over obstacles and knocking down walls, often carrying this country on our backs as we do it.
Yes, it is largely thankless work, but ask yourself, where would we be as a nation if not for the courage and contributions of Black women? If Rosa would’ve just picked up her purse and moved towards the back. Or if Ruby would’ve turned around and went home. It may feel like we are in dark times now but if we are truly honest with ourselves America hasn’t paid its light bill in generations. Like our sister Harriet Tubman before us we must continue to light the way ourselves. On Saturday morning September 30, I will join thousands of our sisters at the March for Black Women to do precisely that. This is a moment for us to raise our voices to not only what ails us but what ails our nation. A task for which Black women are uniquely qualified.
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We will raise our voices for #KennekaJenkins and the countless Black women, including Black transgender women, who have fallen victim to vicious acts of violence. We will raise our voices for the women in corner offices, campuses, and everywhere in between who have survived sexual harassment, assault, and revictimization by a culture that does not believe their stories.
We will raise our voices for young Black women: for their right to chart their own destinies.
We will raise our voices for Black mamas: for their right to give birth without losing their own lives, and to raise children without the threat of losing those children. We will raise our voices for Black women and women of color who are denied safe abortion care because of where they live or how much money they make.
We will raise our voices for our sisters who are doing equal or in many cases superior work to their male peers but only receive a fraction of the pay.
But, per usual, our responsibility is still even greater. We will not only seek to bend the arc of justice for ourselves but to combat injustice in all of its forms. Including a criminal justice system that does not value the lives of all of those it is sworn to protect. Voting laws and restrictions designed to disenfranchise people of color with laser-like precision. The callous treatment of immigrants and their families. We will also stand up to an emboldened white supremacist movement that has taken to the streets without the shame to mask their faces.
This march is not about Donald Trump. This march is not about Democrats and Republicans or the political back and forth. It is simply about letting the world know that Black women’s lives matter. It’s about letting our daughters know that they have value, that they are loved and deserve respect. It’s about letting our sons know that Black women are to be regarded with dignity and humanity, and that they too have a stake in justice for Black women.
It’s about letting our allies know that we hold the blueprint to our own liberation, but also that we invite them to march alongside for freedom for us all.
I am so proud to co-chair the March for Black Women alongside Farah Tanis of the Black Women’s Blueprint, Bré Anne Campbell, from Trans Sistas of Color Project in Detroit, and Charlene Caruthers from Black Youth Project (BYP100).
And I’ll be proud to march alongside you, too. I ask you to join us and lift your voice—whether it’s as sumptuous as Queen Bey’s or as spirited as Cardi B’s, you need to be heard. The world needs to hear you say that we do feel pain, that our lives matter, and that we are not going to settle for the status quo. On September 30th, please join us whether it’s on the streets of the nation’s Capital, the keyboard of your Twitter app, or right outside of your front door. This march is for every black woman. The time has come to trust Black women, and March for Black women.