For black women, girls and femmes, oppression and discrimination are all around. Tonight in London, they'll be serving up and sharing lemonade. Imani Robinson and Natalie Jeffers reckon they know what to do when life gives you lemons.
“I had my ups and downs but I always find the inner strength to pull myself up.
I was served lemons, but I made lemonade…”
At 6pm tonight, we’ll be joining British activists in central London to make and share lemonade with each other, for each other – as our ancestors have done.
As an ode to each other and to Bey – who gave us a gift when her many collaborators created Lemonade – we will listen to our stories and hear our voices, we will sing, dance, heal and embrace our #BlackGirlMagic as we drink.
Direct action is about more than fighting powers that seek to oppress and hurt us. It is about coming together, to care, to build strength and community. It is about lifting each other up and honouring each other. There are times to bring the rage (cue: track 3, Don’t Hurt Yourself) and there are times to move beyond the pain. We are going to heal, and it will be glorious.
We are here because to present as Black women, girls and femmes in our society is to be vulnerable to punishment in all spheres of our lives. We are here because the second most common request of our justice system, after “please stop killing us” is in response to the racialised, gendered and sexualised violence that is pervasive in the prison industrial complex. But these demands so often go unheard in a system of interlocking oppressions that works to render us invisible.
There is a Herstory of significant disadvantage and complex needs surrounding the incarceration of Black women, Girls and Femmes who are among the most powerless, marginalised and disadvantaged in society. Factors that highlight these complexities and disadvantages include: poverty, sexual and physical abuse and domestic violence, mental illness, personality disorders, self harm, periods of homelessness, lack of education, time spent in care, drug and alcohol misuse.
Women experience varying degrees of access to, interaction with and provision of support needed when dealing with community agencies, including social services and mental health services. Increasingly we are seeing a rise in cases and deaths in the light of Conservative austerity cuts to services and benefits for the most poor and vulnerable. Responsibility and accountability for these deaths beyond the prison service is rarely examined in any detail. We must fight for justice. We must break down the narrow standards of respectable Black womanhood and femininity deemed acceptable.
We are sharing lemonade together because when we say #BlackLivesMatter, we mean ALL Black Lives.
Today is also Malcolm X Day; and as Bey reminded us: the most unprotected person in America is the Black woman.
We are drinking Lemonade to show up for our U.K folks, like Sarah Reed, a 34 year old Black working-class mother, daughter and survivor of mental health afflictions and sexual abuse, who was found dead in Holloway Prison on the 11th January 2016. Black Women are unprotected, disenfranchised and disrespected across the globe.
We must continue to show up #INHERHONOUR for all Black mothers, for whom the act of giving birth to their beautiful Black children will be a vulnerable and dangerous one until the world is a safe space for Black bodies.
We are fighting for our freedom and our vision is decolonial.
We are fighting for our freedom and our vision is abolitionist.
We are fighting for our freedom and our vision is radically inclusive because we intend to win, together.
When we #SAYHERNAME, sisters like Sarah Reed become visible. Our narratives become heard. The prison industrial complex wants us to believe that police, prisons & surveillance are necessary to maintain social order. But we know this to be untrue.
Join the Sarah Reed Campaign For Justice, United Friends And Family Campaign, Sisters Uncut and Matters of the Earth at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park London 6pm – 8:30pm to lift up our loved ones #InHerHonour and remember those lost as we #SayHerName.