I’m glad that again this year so many people turned out for the Women’s Marches across the country. Guys, when are we going to become as well organized and have Men’s Marches?
Something with additional significance happened at the Women’s March in Indianapolis that I’d like to share. I’ve known Leah DeRae since Michael Brown was killed in Ferguson, Missouri, in August 2014. Leah was part of a group of 10 young people who hadn’t know each other, but met via social media, and traveled together to Ferguson right after Michael was killed, bring food and support. They returned to Indianapolis and have been working hard on social justice issues since. They became Indianapolis’ Black Lives Matter. I was loosely involved with the group, and we were often at the Kheprw Institute (KI) together working on various projects. Leah and I both worked at Riley Hospital for Children and occasionally saw each other there, too.
Leah and Kyra caused some controversy last weekend at the Women’s March in Indianapolis, when they asked white women where they were during the Black Lives Matter struggle. Here is the video of their speech (Leah is on the right):
Another friend of mine, Amanda Shepherd, wrote an eloquent response to those who criticized Leah an Kyra and their speech. Amanda and I worked on many environmental justice things in Indianapolis, including the Keystone Pledge of Resistance and the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance.
“I have seen many women complaining about some of the speakers at this past weekend’s #WomensMarch here in Indy. And I’ve tried to stay quiet. But honestly I think it’s time to point out that your privilege is showing, ladies. I understand that you may not have liked the tone of some of the speakers. You were made to feel uncomfortable. You were called out for not showing up when it matters. And you know what? I’m right there with you – I haven’t shown up every time I could. Because you and I HAVE THAT CHOICE – and THAT is our privilege. Black women and other POC do not have a choice but to show up in the struggle for equity and justice every day. We do. And much too often we choose not to be there. So while many were complaining (or even apparently leaving in protest) I was cheering these women on as they spoke because I choose to bear witness to their struggle – and am ready to commit to do more. And while I have not shown up as often as I should, I do understand that I am complicit in the perpetuation of the power structures that exist when I do not choose to engage in fighting for equity. So tell me – are you ready to do the work?”