"History is always in the making; while women of color and Indigenous peoples remain wordless in the official record. The very act of writing then, conjuring/coming to ‘see’ what has yet to be recorded in history is to bring into consciousness what only the body knows to be true."
- This Bridge Called My Back, Cherrie Moraga & Gloria Anazaldua
In 2014 we proclaimed that #BlackLivesMatter! What we meant was #BlackMenAndBoysLivesMatter. Somehow we either unconsciously forget or consciously deny that Black girls’ and women’s lives matter, too. We forget that structural systems exist that make it so that when we think and talk about the effects of state violence on Black people, we prioritize the experiences of Black men, leaving Black girls and women out of the picture.
In a movement that has largely been built and sustained by the labor and dedication of Black women, seldom do we recognize their plight. Yes, Black girls are strong and magical, but we cannot continue to stand by ourselves in the fight for our humanity and everyone else’s. Black Girls are literally M.I.A –“Missing In Action”. Not in the sense that we are not putting our bodies on the line because black lives matter, we are, but because historically society has rarely taken our stories into account. In education, the economy, even in the retelling of Black history, Black girls are missing.
Thanks to a report titled, Black Girls Matter: Pushed Out, Overpoliced and Underprotected, authored by African American Policy Forum we now know that in our classrooms and hallways, girls of color face much harsher school discipline than their White peers but are excluded from current efforts to address the school-to-prison pipeline. This brought about a #WhyWeCan’tWait campaign to push for more inclusive policies through the research, resources and support in order to show up for Black girls too.
We must emphasize the intersection of Race, Class, and Gender in order to obtain liberation and justice for all Black Lives. When we ignore the experiences of black girls and women then we perpetuate the patriarchy that continuously silences, undervalues and ignores the stories and experiences of Black girls and women.
When we scream out, “Black girls matter!” we’re doing more than simply drawing attention to our role in the movement, and the fact as Black women and girls, our lives matter too. We are talking about the structural systems - White Supremacy, Capitalism and Patriarchy – that marginalize Black women and girls, even within the movement for Black lives. When scream out, “Black girls matter!” we’re demanding that this movement centralize black women, trans-women, and gender non-conforming stories, challenge all types of oppression, and make room for us to be the leaders we know ourselves to be.
The #SayHerName actions, rallies, and protest that we witnessed last week, demonstrated the beauty and power in proclaiming that Black Girls and Women Matter and that our stories must continue to be heard. Black girls and women must continue to be a part of the discourse and battle cries, in our classrooms, meeting spaces, trainings and in the streets. Black Girls can no longer be MIA. Not if we’re serious about liberation.
Our liberation is endlessly tied to your liberation.
- Jonel Edwards, Dream Defenders & Ruth Jeannoel, Power U Center
Please share the graphics below and use the hashtag #blackgirlsmia: