Our hearts are heavy, filled with grief and hope. The images of George Floyd being suffocated till death by a police officer in Minneapolis, USA, met the pain and the revolt caused by the recent murders of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery, also killed by white supremacists in the US. An enormous wave of frustration and outrage sparked an incredible movement of resistance and solidarity with Black Lives Matter that quickly spread all over the world. Brazilians are also on the streets. In Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 80% of people killed by police in the first half of 2019 were black, and state violence only keeps increasing in the favelas, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Likewise, the tragic killings of Tina Ezekwe and Uwa Uwavera Omozuwa in Nigeria have sparked a mobilization against sexual violence, and in defense of black women and girls’ lives. The time to question and dismantle white supremacy in all aspects of society is here – and hopefully, there is no coming back.
FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund stands in solidarity with those protesting racist state, and patriarchal, violence all over the world. We unequivocally believe that the defense of black lives is central to the young feminist struggle and to philanthropy as a whole.
As a donor, FRIDA recognizes that the foundations of philanthropy lie in white supremacy, built at the expense, and by the hands of, people of African descent as well as the colonization and elimination of indigenous peoples. Thus, we are fully committed to becoming an anti-racist organization. We also recognize that a long way still lies ahead of us, and the rest of philanthropy, to ensure that anti-racism is an intrinsic part of the work that we do. FRIDA is incredibly grateful to its community and to the larger movements for black lives, wherever and whenever we are called in to change our practices, and into better supporting movements fighting against racism.
We invite you to read and connect to the following black voices within our community, through their work, perspective and words at this time
Warning: In centering the black voices and experiences of our community, we are mindful that some reflections may be triggering to readers
VOICES OF OUR COMMUNITY
“This year has been heavier than ever. Dealing with Covid-19, the public & blatant disregard for the lives of those who occupy black and brown bodies worldwide and managing the impact of mental illness that’s compounded by current events. These days I spend a lot of time in a state of panic despite no apparent immediate danger besides the fact that I exist as a black, non-binary, queer person in the Caribbean. The strength I’ve grown to find in these 3 identifiers has been wavering during this time. These identities stir something up in others, making me and others like me targets of violence, discrimination or even death.
In spite of this, I cling to the hope that during my lifetime I could get a taste of what it must be like to feel “untouchable and safe” like the cis, white men of the world. I imagine a world where I can walk down the street without constantly looking over my shoulders wondering if I might be attacked because someone thinks that I should be dressed in more “feminine clothes” or that I’m “rubbing my lifestyle in their face” by simply existing. I dream of a time when I don’t have to wonder if the color of my skin might offend someone or give them the right to abuse their authorities.
Until then, we’ll protest online and offline, nap and repeat.”
– Darcelle, Communities and Culture Associate
“Somewhere, in the chaos, there is resolution. It’s the only thing that sustains me; the thought that there is something coming after the madness, something coming after living under the weight of systems that have tried to crush us and our hope. May we be strong enough to push through the chaos, to build new systems out of what comes next. We deserve lives that treat us kindly, and if it takes rage to build it, then so be it. May we all, finally, be truly free.”
– Maame, Communications Associate
“My understanding of race was complicated, growing up in the Caribbean, where our living spaces are idealised through a white settler lens; while our existences are placed against the backdrop of a legacy of colonisation, so deeply rooted in white supremacy. For a long time, I felt ashamed of my blackness. I washed my face with Clorox when I was 16 in hopes that it would dilute my melanin – I ended up badly burnt. Anti-blackness was reinforced all around me in the messages I received about desirability and worth. As I grew into womanhood, I found strength in the revolutionary, unapologetic and unambiguous black and queer women who laid the foundation for our social justice movements and continue to occupy their frontlines. Today, I know that claiming space in this world in my black, queer, femme, fat body is an act of resistance and defiance. I am tired. Tired of defending my own humanity. Tired of the weight of racism, which sits on my chest and prevents me from sleeping at nights. But I will never be apologetic for any of the intersections which my identity occupies and I will always stand in solidarity with black people who are being disenfranchised under the boot of colonial, white supremacist, cis-sexist, heteronormative, imperialist, capitalist patriarchy, everywhere.”
– Ro-Ann, Communications Officer
“When I was a teenager, I immigrated to Florida from Haiti; I was told we moved away from the island I loved to be safer. I learned that America is a palace of illusion where safety is promised in glittering lights and truth is revealed in the small moments that make up living. When we first moved it was to a very southern town in Florida. Homestead was mostly made up of large nurseries and farms; the highlight of the weekend was the Friday night local country music concert in the town square. I thought it looked nice enough, like a family tv show about small town America. The illusion held until I took my first walk.
I was daydreaming happily on my walk when I saw a big pick-up truck slow down near me; there were a couple of white teenagers inside and in the back. The confederate flag dominated the truck’s back window. I was new to living in Florida but I was not new to the feeling of being hunted nor was I ignorant of its history. I tried ignoring the truck, even as the sun shone and my sweat dripped ice cold. I realised they were slowing down. They were slowing down to match my pace, the truck was practically crawling, all to gleefully enjoy the hunt. I could hear them calling out to me; names I’ve squeezed out of my memory. “Don’t run Valerie” I told myself. Don’t run, don’t run, don’t run. I felt the strange memory of other black bodies with me at that moment; so many black bodies had been chased for sport in this town. “Don’t run” I screamed silently; “they will chase and they want to chase”. I slowed my steps even as I wanted to fly, I could feel my heart like a bell trying to shatter through glass. Eventually I saw a church and ever so slowly pretended to go in. The boys sped away- the sound of the loud engine mingling unpleasantly with my shattering pulse. I walked back home after gulping down air in the shadow of the church; when asked, I told my parents I had a nice walk around the neighbourhood. They were already tired from rebuilding our lives in this strange new place.
There are so many more stories stored in my body; stories of being hunted, humiliated, refused a service, insulted and afraid. I share these moments to unglue the shame I’ve internalized from them; to say that it is no longer mine to hold in my bones.
For so many years, I was ashamed of my fears. Ashamed that I peed on myself in my cheery yellow car when I got stopped by a white cop for an illegal turn, when all he did was give me a ticket. Ashamed of the anxiety attacks and moments of panic. One of the most powerful and painful processes that I am living in this moment are those flashes; those moments where I embodied survival instinct and traumatic reaction. Through the protests, raised voices, stories shared and solidarity- I am transitioning. It’s an imperfect process of remembering, of letting go of fear, and eradicating the idea that I can be made prey. There is a process of cleansing that can only occur when others are angry with you, when they grieve with you, when they dream of better with you. Even as this moment moves with unpredictable tumultuous energy, I sense the beginnings of shared healing. I can lay bare my shame and scrape it off my bones, no matter how painful the transformation it frees me from emotional isolation and moves me to build anew collectively.”
– Valerie, Senior Resource Mobilisation Officer
LEADING ANTIRACIST WORK
“Solidaridad siempre con las luchas afrodiasporicas!
Reconocemos nuestras raices negras e invocamos todas las fuerzas de nuestras ancestras a seguir alimentando el fuego antirracista en toda Abya Yala”
– Brigada Migrante Feminista
Clube de Blogueiras Negras (The Black Bloggers Club) is a project exclusively for and by black women, trans and non-binary people. Their core mandate is strengthening the visibility of black, feminist digital media in Brazil. Their work focuses on visiblising black feminist media in Brazil to promote socially diverse, anti-racist and responsible communications on a national level. Their work develops the capacity of black content creators to share their products, services, events and suppliers to the wider Brazilan public, based on the premise of valuing, centering and prioritizing black feminist voices. Image credit: Clube de Bloguerias Negras/instagram