Hun­dreds turn out for Florida March for Black Women

South Florida Times - - METRO - Staff Report

MI­AMI – On Satur­day, Septem­ber 30, a di­verse group of over 600 women, men and chil­dren from across the state filled Mi­ami streets for the Florida March for Black Women to show sol­i­dar­ity and high­light is­sues that they be­lieve have been ne­glected and ig­nored.

A group of statewide or­ga­ni­za­tions in­clud­ing Mi­ami Work­ers Cen­ter, The New Florida Ma­jor­ity, Soul Sis­ters Lead­er­ship Col­lec­tive, Florida Im­mi­grant Coali­tion, Power U Cen­ter for So­cial Change, Women's March – Florida Chap­ter and oth­ers par­tic­i­pated in Satur­day's march, join­ing res­i­dents who trav­eled by car and bus from Jack­sonville, Sara­sota, Tampa, Or­lando and other cities across the state.

The sis­ter march ran con­cur­rent with the na­tional march held in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. where Black women marched at the cen­ter of the March for Racial Jus­tice.

The march be­gan in Over­town at an old women's de­ten­tion cen­ter and ended in Wyn­wood. March speak­ers em­pha­sized a num­ber of is­sues plagu­ing Black women and girls in­clud­ing: the school to prison pipe­line, the gen­der wage gap, the crim­i­nal­iza­tion of Black women (in­clud­ing Black im­mi­grant women), rape and sex­u­al­ized vi­o­lence against Black women (in­clud­ing Black trans women), health care at­tacks that impact Black women and more.

June Bar­rett, Do­mes­tic Worker and Mem­ber of Mi­ami Work­ers Cen­ter said she had first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence with some of the is­sues they were speak­ing out against.

"As a Black im­mi­grant [and] queer woman, I face many chal­lenges ... Through­out my 14 years as a do­mes­tic worker, I faced clients who abused me both ver­bally and sex­u­ally. More­over, I face ex­tremely low wages. De­spite the fact that home health care is one of the fastest-grow­ing jobs in the coun­try, our wages are still some of the low­est with an av­er­age of $10 an hour,” Bar­rett said. "To­day, I stand be­fore you step­ping into my power as a Black im­mi­grant, queer, do­mes­tic worker to fight back against this sys­tem that de­val­ues the la­bor of Black women, girls and femme. I’m march­ing be­cause Black women de­serve a safe work­place. I’m march­ing be­cause we de­serve liv­able wages. I’m march­ing be­cause we de­serve to live with dig­nity re­gard­less of race, gen­der, sex­u­al­ity, abil­ity, and im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus. I’m march­ing be­cause I mat­ter." Oth­ers echoed her sen­ti­ment.

"We are all con­nected. Black women ex­ist in ev­ery com­mu­nity ... I am Mus­lim and I am a black woman and I am fight­ing against Is­lam­o­pho­bia and anti-black­ness be­cause they af­fect me all the time and they af­fect me the same," said Isra Amin Ibrahim, Coun­cil Mem­ber of Stu­dents for Jus­tice in Pales­tine at Florida In­ter­na­tional Univer­sity

Jas­men Rogers, Gen­der Jus­tice Or­ga­nizer at Mi­ami Work­ers Cen­ter, spear­headed the march.

"We're start­ing at Booker T Wash­ing­ton High School, which is a pre­dom­i­nantly black high school right across from an [old] women's de­ten­tion cen­ter to high­light mass in­car­cer­a­tion and the school to prison pipe­line that goes on in our com­mu­ni­ties," Rogers said. “Our de­mands are about mak­ing sure that Black women, girls and femmes are saf e, mak­ing sure that they are sta­ble and mak­ing sure that peo­ple are ready to ac­knowl­edge that the lives of Black women de­serve to be pro­tected."

Chan­ice Lee, a 15-year-old blog­ger, en­tre­pre­neur and youth ac­tivist showed a wis­dom be­yond her years.

"For cen­turies, Black women have been ex­ploited, for­got­ten and de­nied civil rights, but the time to change that is now ... I am not here to sim­ply march, I am here be­cause I am a 15-year-old black girl who wants her voice to be heard,” Lee said. “I am here on be­half of all of the young black girls who have been si­lenced and told that their voices are not im­por­tant. I am here for Dar­nisha Har­ris who was only 16-years-old when she had her life taken away from her by a po­lice of­fi­cer. For Breasha Mead­ows, a 16-year-old vic­tim of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence who is cur­rently in­car­cer­ated."

"The rev­o­lu­tion is in the hands of the young and the sooner that we ac­cept and em­brace that, the sooner we can cre­ate and shape a world that fu­ture gen­er­a­tions of Black girls de­serve to live in (a world) which should con­sist of hap­pi­ness, pros­per­ity and peace," Lee con­cluded.

PHO­TOS COURTESY OF EMILEE MCGOVERN

Over 600 peo­ple turned out to ad­vo­cate for eq­uity and equal­ity for women and girls dur­ing the Florida March for Black Women, held Sept. 30.

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