On Saturday, May 3, 2014 we gathered in Philadelphia in solidarity with and support of ALL efforts to identify, locate, rescue and return the abducted Nigerian School Girls back to their families.
Following is an edited version of my remarks at the rally. ~ Aishah Shahidah Simmons
First, I want to thank my Sister/Comrade Tarana Burke who, on late Wednesday night,(April 30, 2014), began beating the cyber drum to bring many of us to gather today in support of ALL EFFORTS TO #BringOurGirlsBack!!!!
There is a global, relentless daily war going on against women and girls. It takes the form of incest, child sexual abuse, rape and other forms of sexual violence, battering, human trafficking, forced marriages…. the list of atrocities goes on and on and on. This war is happening every single moment of every single day. It knows NO racial, ethnic, religious, socio-economic, ethnic or national boundaries. Tragically, however, white supremacy places values on the lives on some women and girls while completely ignoring the realities of other women and girls.
This is most evident in the reason why we are gathered here today. We should not be gathering to demand that almost 300 Nigerian girls who were abducted two weeks ago, two weeks ago, let me say this one more time TWO WEEKS AGO are located, rescued and returned to their families.
Up until very recently, we have relied upon social media to find out almost ANY information about these innocent girl children prisoners of a war whose origins are rooted in colonialism, imperialism and Western Nations desire to have absolute control over Nigeria’s oil.
Black Girls Matter!!!!
The abduction of 300 Nigerian schoolgirls should be newsworthy globally. We know that if these girls were White American or White European in the US or any part of the world, their abduction would be THE story everywhere. Governments everywhere would make it their business to support their rescue and safe return.
However, because it’s somewhere between 234 and 300 Nigerian/Black/African girls, it’s taken the relentless pressure of grassroots, on-the-ground activists in Nigeria and other parts of the world to make this atrocity headline news.
We must continue to hold our mainstream news outlets accountable to document this story every single day, multiple times a day until ALL of the girls are rescued and returned home. WE MUST hold our elected officials accountable and DEMAND that they to put pressure on the Nigerian government to locate and rescue these girls immediately.
WE MUST ALSO DEMAND that this ATROCITY is NOT USED as a SCAPEGOAT for a US/Western invasion of a sovereign nation (troubles and ongoing destabilization not withstanding). In the US, we can look to our not too distant past to recall how rescuing girl children and women from the Taliban was used as one of the reasons to invade Afghanistan. Rescuing the girls and women was the excuse not the reason. The real reason was for US/Western control of the region for their resources.
We MUST NOT ALLOW ISLAMAPHOBIA cloud our vision. There are numerous reports that state that the girls have been trafficked into forced slavery (under the guise of marriage). Some reports link this inhumane behavior to Islamic traditions. Make no mistake the origins of forced-marriages are equally connected to Christianity and Judaism as they are to Islam. The Rev. Dr. Wil Gafney wrote a brilliant article on May 2, 2014 for the online publication Religion Dispatches detailing the painful ancient origins of this contemporary practice.
Regardless of their rhetoric, the militia group Boko Haram that many cite as being responsible for this (among so many other) unspeakable crimes is not practicing Islam. They are an opportunist, heavily armed militia whose objective is political and not religious or spiritual. This mass kidnapping is NOT connected to Islam. Let’s not allow the media, elected officials, colleagues, comrades, family, and/or friends lose focus. The issue is the return of the girls as swiftly and as safely as possible.
Let’s resist any attempts to sacrifice these girls for a larger (US/Western control of Nigeria’s oil) agenda, which could result in an invasion in their names and on their bodies.
We call for the rescue and safe return of our girls without additional or as little bloodshed as possible.
We demand that western nations refrain from scapegoating the kidnapping of our girls for a larger agenda. Keep the focus on bringing our girls back.
From Nigeria to North Philadelphia and every place in the world in between, we must keep the focus on the fact that Black Girls Lives EVERYWHERE ARE VALUABLE AND THEY MATTER. Their lives shouldn’t EVER be an afterthought on the global agenda as well as on any US national, state and local agendas.
Bring Back Our Girls. Bring Back Our Girls. Bring Back Our Girls.
"We Are An African People" (photo credit: Bill Holmes)
For more information about efforts to #BringBackOurGirls, please visit the #BringBackOurGirls Facebook page.
For more information about Rock a Gele for Our Girls, please visit the Rock a Gele for Our Girls Facebook page