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As tensions in the country continued to mount in the days leading up to the 2020 Presidential Election, I reflect on what my position is in this society, both currently and within a broader historical context. I am a Black woman. And whether or not, I want to be reminded of exactly what that means—i.e. the gravity of living this identity—I will be anyway, because each day I’m reminded similarly in the news and on social media that in this country, it means nothing and neither do I. 

How I engage with the outside world—or rather how the world engages and interacts with me—is greatly shaped by the 400 years of chattel slavery, Jim Crow laws, and sexual violence the Black diaspora has suffered. I’m grateful that I haven’t been subjected to excessive force such as in the case of Dalia Kafi who had been slammed onto the floor by a white male police officer named Alex Dunn while in police custody. But violence as a subjugation tactic is not always physical. Quite the contrary, covert violence*, in my opinion, is equally heinous as overt violence and can be thought of as the day-to-day oppression Black people are disproportionately confronted with. This plays out in many different ways but some of the most common types of covert violence include micro-aggressive language and behaviors, in which minorities (in this context Black men and womxn) constantly grapple with racial insensitivity in education, the workplace, and other public spaces.

Woman Wearing Blue Top Beside Table
Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Once slavery in the US was abolished, Black folk were promised reparations that we never received; in fact, as scholars Rayshawn Ray and Andre Perry point out in an address about why Black Americans need reparations, they state, “Black Americans are the only group that has not received reparations for state-sanctioned racial discrimination.” If you’re interested to learn more, a great article that further explains the subject of reparations can be found here.

And now in 2020, racial tensions are especially turbulent, having accelerated in recent years with the advent of the BLM and #SayHerName social justice movements that fight to challenge hate crimes and government-sanctioned brutality. In spite of all the turmoil, activism and liberation efforts have not been deterred, especially among Black youth (usually Black womxn and queer Black folk) who use social media to communicate their needs and concerns.

say their names black lives matter sign
Photo by Frankie Cordoba from Unsplash

In this article, I want to highlight the Black Empowerment and Mutual Aid Project, one of many groups that seek to uplift affected members of the community. The Black Empowerment and Mutual Aid Project (which can also be found here on Facebook) is described as a group that helps connect Black people with mutual aid resources that they need on a case-by-case basis. What I especially appreciate about this group is that it amplifies the needs of marginalized people within the Black community like those with mental health conditions, disabled individuals, dark-skinned, LGBTQ, and the “otherwise dis-privileged” because they generally don’t receive the same amount or any representation in mainstream activism movements. Another thing about this group that I appreciate is that through their respective Tumblr and Facebook accounts, interested members of the community can submit a request for assistance for themselves, or allies of the community can submit a request for assistance on the behalf of a Black person they know who is in need through crowdfunding sites like ‘gofundme.’

I think groups like this are important for reasons I acknowledged earlier in which from a historical standpoint, this nation has failed to acknowledge and apologize for the irreparable damage placed upon an entire diaspora of people, and further antagonizing them through social, political, and economic stratifications. I believe groups like these—not just those made for Black people but grander BIPOC targeted organizations—are necessary for unifying our human society in the sense that these communities have been subordinated insofar that they have to work way harder than the dominant social group just to have a fraction of the same privileges and opportunities. And as it seems, those who fall under multiple intersectional categories simultaneously are further marginalized than cishet, able-bodied members of the same community. 

Essentially, I think this country owes it to the people to try righting some of the wrongs that perpetuated daily. Granted, the havoc that has historically plagued minorities can never be made up for but there are things—such as the distribution of reparations and support—that can be done to alleviate social and financial tensions. If you are interested in finding out how you can support the Black community, check out some of these resources or you may Google search other organizations if none of these are to your liking. While donations are welcomed, the power of disseminating important information is vital. Please, do your part. 

*Overt/Covert racism is referred to as overt/covert violence in this article because racism is violence. 

Ayanté Hardy

UC Riverside '21

How would I describe myself as a creator, as an individual? I don’t know I just love cynicism and chaos and villainy, color, texture, tenacity and audaciousness, just exhausting every facet of life, nauseating grandeur. I think my strength is that I know how to play it up but also reel that in when needed. I’d like to think I’m quite good at containing this dichotomy within myself and really letting that free in my creative or intellectual expressions. My articles are my interpretation of this notion.
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