IT STARTED AT #THESITINSD
Until very recently I would have described myself as an advocate and not an activist.
But all of that changed a week ago when I was sitting at my first black sit-in in San Diego (#theSitInSD). It was a virtual sit-in, held online because we're all still facing a pandemic. At this sit-in, black people came together to claim and hold space together for healing. We learned about organizations like The SOULcial Workers, March for Black Women San Diego, Transistance, BlackLine, and their commitments to help us stand up and fight back against racism, police brutality, and systemic oppression against all black people as we help one another heal together.
CALLING OF NAMES
As part of the sit-in agenda, there was a beautiful moment where the organizers Kelsey and Dairrick aka Khalil Bleaux exchanged this beautiful chant, interchanged with the names of not only our ancestors but also the victims of senseless acts of police brutality like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Eric Garner, victims of civilian brutality such as Ahmaud Arbery and Treyvon Martin, as well the victims of all forms of societal brutality including domestic violence, homophobia and transphobia. But it wasn’t just that. As they were saying these names, they added in the names of our ancestors, Harriet Tubman, Martin Luther King, Jr., Sojourner Truth, past leaders in the Black struggle, who fought and died knowing what we’re all realizing right now: We are the leaders of today, and it’s OUR turn to rise up.
I broke down crying in the sit-in after this chant. That was embarrassing because I was also closed captioning, so I had to pull myself together quickly so I could finish my job that night. That experience listening to them say the names gave me goosebumps. It wouldn’t let me go. I couldn’t even tell you much about what else happened at the sit-in, and I typed it all word for word. What I knew was something changed in me and I was going to DO SOMETHING. Create an action.
AN INSPIRED IDEA
I wanted to extend the magic of that moment of names across social media. People are eager to find a way to use their social media platforms for good. I believe in that. Why not give everyone a way to show their support and solidarity for black lives, though one powerful post? A live post. #SAYTHEIRNAMESLIVE was born.
"Going live" is changing the world around us as we know it because we can all do it any time we want. My aim is to provide a clear way to go live for the cause of stopping police brutality, while also acknowledging the disproportionately black victims in a simple healing way--just say their names.
SAVE THE DATE: JUNE 19 (JUNETEENTH)
As the idea came to launch this action, I realized that Juneteenth was coming up on June 19. Juneteenth commemorates the day the last official slaves in Galveston were notified that they had been freed by the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier. For me, Juneteenth is a day to pause and recognize that even though they tell us we’re free, we may not all be free yet. In fact, when it comes to our safety and well-being in this country and on this planet, we are not fully free, yet. But we can use the freedom that we do have to unite in one voice through this #SayTheirNamesLive action. I wondered when and how I could go about mobilizing and organizing a plan for this action and realized that Juneteenth was coming up on June 19.
KEEPING IT STUPIDLY SIMPLE
I want to create a moment in time where we take some space and hold some space, with the names of these black victims. And the best way to do that is to mobilize this call to action and put it on your hands. If this is something you want to do I’ve made it very simple:
I'll measure the success of #SayTheirNamesLive by two goals:
This action ends there but the movement continues and it’s up to you to choose your way to get involved. I’m bringing everything I have to the table as a trainer, an author, a coach, and a healer to help support our people, my people, Black people. So here we are. I’m here. We’re here. I’m activated and this is my action--#SayTheirNamesLive on June 19--Juneteenth.
Please pledge to participate at www.saytheirnames.live. Don't do it alone--share the website with a friend or a thousand. It doesn't take long to sign up, you fill out a brief survey to pledge and you receive a list of names. If you join the mailing list you get regular updates from me, your captain, who is fully building this plane as it’s taking off.
KishaLynn "KL" Elliott
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