March for Black Women – Blog Post #2

In 1995, the Million Man March was held in Washington, D.C to support black men across the United States. It’s purpose was to call attention to racial terror and systems of oppression that perpetuate racial inequality, like economic disenfranchisement or mass-incarceration. However, the Million Man March did include black women or focus on any of their struggles. Therefore, in 1997, Dr. Phile Chionesu organized the first Million Woman March in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to finally include black women to the national conversation of politics. On October 25, it will mark 20 years since the Million Woman March was held in Philly, and the last national organized demonstration that solely focused on black women.

That is why on September 30, 2017, the March for Black Women was held in Washington D.C in remembrance of the Million Woman March, and to continue the discussion of the widespread incarceration of black women and girls, high rates of rape and sexual violence among black women, the brutalization and murder of trans black women, and the disappearance of black girls primarily in D.C.

Ebony Nyoni, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter Vermont, asked if I wanted to travel down to D.C along with her and other women of color to march on Washington for the rights of intersectional black women. I accepted this offer and it marked my second time marching on Washington for the rights of women.

The bus ride from Vermont to D.C is about 9 hours, not including several pit stops for food and bathroom breaks. Therefore, when you combine several passionate female activists of color, growing up in rural and mostly white Vermont on one bus, the conversations that spur up are very thoughtful and underrepresented. We had plenty of time to discuss everything from the school-to-prison pipeline, slut-shaming, and microaggressions to college aspirations, boys, and gossip. Although, our conversations became more intensified the moment I asked the group, “Why are you here? Why was it important for you to come to D.C for this march?”, “What does black feminism mean to you?”, and, “What issues do black women face locally in Vermont, and nationally in the US?”.

When I asked, “Why are you here?”, most responded with, “I’m black and a woman. We won’t get many other opportunities like this, again,” which usually followed with a snicker and a small smile. Many of the women on this trip expressed that the March for Black Women, was their first time pioneering a conversation about their own identities, and attending an event only meant for them.

Joelyn Mensah, had a lot to say when answering the question,“Why was it important for you to come to D.C for this march?”, “Women in general are typically ignored and excluded, however black women are even more ostracized than anyone else. We live in the shadows of white men, black men, and other women; white women. That’s even true with MLK, a black American hero. His wife, Coretta Scott King, contributed greatly to his movement and received very little recognition. Not only was she a woman forced to assert her position behind a man, she was a black woman and that combination makes it almost impossible for people to know your name besides being someone’s ‘wife’, let alone receive recognition for your efforts.”

Black feminism to Jasmine Parker means that her struggles as a black woman are visible and included in the mainstream conversation of feminism. Also, when women discuss things like misogyny, we must also highlight misogynoir (misogyny directed towards black women) because there is no gender equality without racial equality. Hawa Adam, slam poet from Muslim Girls Making Change, defines black feminism as a diverse spectrum of all black cultures and shades of black women working together to end gender and racial inequality.

The group and I, came to the conclusion that the greatest challenges that we face as black women, locally or nationally because they’re intertwined, is everything that women face as a whole plus the additional layer of complexity that occurs when gender meets race. Also, high levels of incarceration and sexual violence.

At the rally before the march, we learned that 1 in 5 black girls before the age of 18 are sexually assaulted or raped in the US. I believe that I’d like to center my topic around sexual assault of women of color in Vermont, or mass incarceration of people of color in Vermont. Ebony Nyoni, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Vermont, also informed us that Vermont has the second highest rate of black-to-white incarceration in the entire US, because Black Vermonters make up 1.2% of the population and 10.7% of the prison population.

 

Mensah, Joelyn, Jasmine Parker, Ebony Nyoni, and Hawa Adam. “March for Black Women.” Personal interview. 30 Sept. 2017.

Zymora Davinchi

3 Responses to “March for Black Women – Blog Post #2

  • Zymora,

    A pleasure to read your thoughtful, compelling prose. I could’ve just kept reading. You manage to tell this story in a way that is personal, persuasive, and provocative. What an honor to be asked to join Black Lives Matter at the march, and then to have that long bus ride and all those conversations. Thanks for brining me along!

    One of these days I want to learn how your UN presentation went, but for now: great to hear your voice on this screen & welcome aboard!

    Bill Rich

  • Zymora C Davinchi
    3 years ago

    Thank you, and I look forward to telling you about the UN!

  • I notice that this was a very empowering movement. I look foward to reading more about your thoughts and experiences.

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