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Jan. 21, 2017 was lauded as the largest mobilization in global history. Women across the world, seemingly on one accord, stood steadfast in unison, denouncing patriarchy while demanding ownership over their own existence.
However, that feeling of unity felt like a facade to many groups of women, specifically Black women.
During the planning and execution of the national and local Women’s Marches, Black and Brown organizers and community members noticed an extreme lack of women of color in leadership. What we saw were seas of white cis-gendered faces in bright pink pussy hats exclaiming their personal right to freedom. And even after the missing pieces were called out, many chapters and local movements of “feminists” have been slow to divest from white supremacy and make room for women of color to lead.
Being a Black woman in America is an hourly test of will. Since our forced arrival to this country, we have been subjected to the worst that America has to offer. Even in social justice spaces that proclaim to uphold the humanity of people, Black women have historically been left behind.
Throughout history, white feminism has failed to acknowledge the plight of Black women as both being Black and being women. Even Black power movements have upheld the highest levels of patriarchy while diminishing the work of Black women within their ranks.
Although the problems feminists want to solve impact the lives of women of color more severely, there has not be any concerted effort to center the most marginalized: women of color.
We need the March for Black Women because outcomes for Black women on all major indicators are significantly lower than their white counterparts: Black women are victimized by domestic violence at rates 35 percent higher than white women; Black women are 30 percent more likely to die from heart disease than their white women counterparts and Black women are imprisoned at more than twice the rate of white women.
We need the March for Black Women because our daily lives are disaster zones, but when natural disasters strike, we are sent into a tailspin. Hurricane Irma proved that low income women of color do not have the resources to adequately and efficiently recover from storms.
We need the March for Black Women because our local and state government waits until the last minute to help us.
We need the March for Black Women because Black women work more hours than white women, but the pay gap relative to white men has increased. Black women are paid 63 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.
Our Black girls need the March for Black Women because across the United States, Black infants die at a rate that’s more than twice as high as that of white infants.
We need the healing of the March for Black women because we have rates of depression nearly 50 percent higher than white women.
We need a march for all Black woman because Black immigrant women earn significantly lower incomes than US-born white women and Black women are imprisoned at more than twice the rate of white women.
We need the safety of a March for Black women because we comprise about half of female homicide victims, the majority of whom were killed by current or former boyfriends or husbands. The vast majority of Trans women murdered in 2017 have been Black trans women. The youngest, Ava Le’Ray, was only 17 years old.
We need this march because since we have started publicizing it, the hate towards individuals and our organizations has increased significantly. We have received comments such as: “Why not all women? Sounds just a tad racist” and “There they go again. When will it ever be enough. Black people always wanting something for nothing. Damn, get a job and make something of yourselves. Show some self respect.”
We need this march because we cannot wait any longer for other movements to prioritize our lives.
On Sept. 30, the 20th anniversary of the Million Women March, Black Women will center the stories, struggles, and resilience of Black women, showcasing our collective Black feminine.
We are organizing ourselves and our allies to take up space, not just for one day, but for a lifetime. We are here to not only make ourselves visible, but to also assert that we deserve safety, stability and sanctity over our own lives.
The question is simple. Do you support Black Women?
The Florida March for Black Women will take place at the Women’s Detention Center at 1401 NW 7th Avenue, Miami, FL on Sept. 30 at 3 p.m.