Starting the conversation

We live in a society that forces certain voices to scream over others to be noticed. It isn’t fair or just, but that’s how it is.

On Saturday, July 15, I was among a crowd yelling “Ain’t I a woman?!” from Crocker Park to the steps of the Capitol. Hundreds of men, women and children gathered to make a statement: That women—specifically black women—will not be a doormat or steppingstone for anyone.

Black women have continually been left out or pushed out of pertinent conversations in this country. Whether it be microaggressions or blatant disrespect, there are countless daily factors that make our voices feel unheard. To fight against that, the “Ain’t I a Woman” march and rally, hosted by the Sacramento nonprofit Black Women United, was about empowering black women with a platform to fight for our civil rights.

Marching and rallying with such a large group of black women in my city was a feeling I will never forget. It felt like a home within my home. Growing up as a black woman in the world, sometimes you feel forgotten or passed by. But seeing all of the beautiful shades of brown and everyone singing, crying and laughing without a trace of fear gave me hope and courage. The BWU put on an event so inclusive to women from all walks of life that it created a vibration of sisterhood.

Rows of signs lined the stage, and they were all pictures of powerful women of color: activists Angela Davis and Marsha P. Johnson, politician Maxine Waters and suffragist Sojourner Truth—who originally delivered the “Ain’t I a woman?” speech. I had to get my selfie in with the sign of my girl Angela Davis, of course!

Poet Porsche Nicole Kelly performed a powerful spoken-word piece about the struggles that young black women face, and ended it by exclaiming the beauty that comes through surmounting those hurdles.

“Pretty brown neck with chains, the world adorns it. … Beautiful flower, long pretty stem. Black girl no hard rock, black girl GEM.”

I don’t usually attend rallies and marches because I feel like the action steps afterward are rarely discussed. But as we left the Capitol we were all given homework to encourage 10 of our community members to vote in local elections. We were also handed contact information for multiple assembly members, resources to use in case of family health emergencies and a list of ways to speak out against injustices in a professional setting.

Headlining speaker and former leader of the Black Panther Party, Elaine Brown, said it best: “Nobody is coming to get us, but we don’t need anybody but each other. We need the power of our legendary love.”