Read the original piece posted on AWID here
Marching in Solidarity: Marcha Das Mulheres Negras
Musings on Solidarity
By Amina Doherty
November 16th, 2015
As an activist I often think about what it means to ‘be in solidarity with’ and what it means to use my body, heart, and voice to amplify the stories and struggles of my brothers and sisters whom society has for various reasons “deliberately silenced” or “preferably unheard.”
As a Black, African, Woman, and Feminist – ‘solidarity’ has meant different things to me in different moments. It has meant using my voice in different ways to speak out against injustice and oppression, expressing my unwavering support to other feminist sisters, and being willing to do the real work of showing up, being present, and being able to navigate the very real complexities of the diverse social movements that I am part of. Solidarity, as I understand it, is more than just a passive concept that people refer to when for whatever reason they want to say they support you, rather, it is a verb, and it is something that as feminists we must actively ‘do.’ It involves the deep and intentional practice of listening to each other and hearing what it is that each of us needs and wants, as much as it is about mutual trust and respect. Solidarity is about building strong relationships that hold every one of us accountable, and forces us to unpack the privilege that we hold, and simultaneously to embrace the beauty that exists in our diversities and multiple ways of being in the world.
Marching in Solidarity
In this present moment, as I prepare to journey to Brazil with a group of Black sisters with roots, families, and homes in Jamaica, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Haiti, Kenya, South Africa and the US, to be on the streets as part of the historic March of Black women against racism and violence (March das Mulheres Negras), I have many things on my mind including thinking about my understanding of solidarity – and ultimately what it is that connects us in our struggles, in our organising, and in our collective (Our)stories.
As I plan to be part of this historic moment, I think about what it is that we (as a group) hope to ‘do’, and how we intend to ‘be’ together in solidarity with our sisters and Black family in Brasilia. Together, and with support from the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID), we join this march against racism and violence, in order to share our voices, the similarities of our stories and struggles, and the immense love that we have for each other as global Black family.
In a preparatory conversation among the group traveling to Brazil, one of the sisters noted that for her, one of the ways of offering solidarity is to be more deliberate in the kind connections and understanding being built.
She said “for me, really making time to truly listen and understand how Black women in Brazil are organising around racialised violence and police brutality is hugely important.”
In our discussions, our group agreed that part of the work we must do while together in Brazil must centre around making global/local connections and thinking creatively about how we can visibilise and amplify the stories and struggles of our sisters in Brazil in all of the spaces we engage in and in our own communities.
One of the sisters that is part of the group traveling to Brazil – Thenjiwe McHarris once wrote:
“For me, there is nothing that gets built unless people learn to love each other. That takes time but, we need to love and appreciate one another. There is only so much we can accomplish with our generation but we need to figure out what to leave for the next generation and help them reach a better position than what we walked into. On the one hand we must establish an understanding of our shared struggles but also have the kind of bond that is necessary to fight together because all our people deserve to live.”
It is in these words, these discussions, and in these moments, that I gain energy and insight and prepare to be with and among, and to be present with my sisters in Brazil as we March in Solidarity.
About the Marcha Das Mulheres Negras
On November 18th 2015, thousands of Black women from all states and regions of Brazil (and globally!) are expected to descend on the capital of Brasilia.The Marcha das Mulheres Negras, will bring together thousands of Black women to march for rights, justice, freedom and democracy. The March, which represents the culmination of years of mobilizing, and collective organising is an initiative of various organizations, and groups that are part of Black Women’s Movements and the Black Movement in Brazil. The March has received support from a diverse range of Black intellectuals, artists, and activists from across Brazil, Latin America, the United States, and Africa.
The March of Black Women is particularly meaningful given that it takes place during the UN International Decade of African Descent 2015-2024, and the month of Black Consciousness in Brazil.
Connecting the Local to the Global
Recognizing the incredible privilege that we as a group have to be able to be part of this historic event, and in our efforts to amplify this experience we call on all of you – who are not able to be physically present with us at the March in Brazil, to share with us your words, art, videos, photos, and poetry in support for all of the Black women that will march on the streets of Brasilia next week.
Here are some of the ways you can join us…
- Make a hand written sign stating, “YOUR NAME/ORGANIZATION supports the Marcha Das Mulheres Negras”
- Hold the sign while recording a short video (30 sec – 3 min), stating your name/organization, where you are from and why you support the Marcha Das Mulheres Negras.
*If possible, please state why the struggle in Brazil matters to you and your local struggles. The goal is to emphasize that our collective struggle as Black people is global.
- Post the video to your organization’s Facebook page and/or your individual Facebook Page and tag the #MarchaDasMulheresNegras and put a twibbon on your Facebook or Twitter Profile.
- Participate in the November 18th live tweet-a-thon. Tweet your video with the hashtags #MarchaDasMulheresNegras #BlackFeminisms #AfriFem
- Spread the word! Tell people about the March, invite people to join this solidarity effort, visit AWID website to read solidarity messages from global women’s rights organisations.