The sexism of activism confronted at ‘Say Her Name’ demonstration

Internal tensions between activists arose during a “Black lives matter” protest in front of the SEPTA Station on 15th and Market.

“Say Her Name: Black Men in Defense of Black Womenhood,” a demonstration promoted on social media “in support of justice for Sandra Bland, Deidra Reid, and countless other black women who have been victims of police terror” had an attendance of roughly 60 participants.

The protest comes during the recent discussions of Sandra Bland, 28, who died in the Waller County Jail after a traffic stop in Prairie View, Texas, escalated into a physical confrontation. Growing social media speculation on her death has lead to many activists questioning how Bland died.

It was a diverse array of Philadelphians holding up countless signs of the names of unarmed black women slain by police enforcement. Some also mentioned “Free Mumia,” “Jail killer cops!!,” and “Stop and Frisk/Stand Your Ground = Racial Profiling”

“Say her name: Sandra Bland, Miriam Carey, Yvette Smith…and the countless other black women who we speak life into when they are murdered under police containment,” said Melanie McCoy, a Black Lives Philly movement activist.

Tommy Joshua of the Philly Peace Park, 35, then supported her words.

“I’m a son, husband, and lover of all black women,” Joshua, who also put together the demonstration, said. “I’m really aware of the distance I have to walk in being a man in this particular movement.”

However, when Megan Malachi, 34, of the Action Against Black Genocide Coalition received the megaphone and began to speak on “black women being silenced in their own movement,” Joshua interrupted her.

“She began to talk down on black men and that rubbed me the wrong way,” Joshua said. “I am out here fighting for them – this wasn’t the place.”

Some women during the demonstration spat epithets at Joshua during the confrontation that began to divide the protest. One shouted that his “misogynistic penis is trying to speak for black women.”

“I was annoyed today – this event was another hijacking of women, queer and trans,” Megan says. “The men slated to speak at this demonstration are known sexists and know nothing about intersectionality within this movement that originated from three queer women of color for that purpose.”

Malachi, who is also apart of the Philly Coalition for Real Justice, also felt that the event was “patronizing for black women who have had to always fight for black male lives when the same wasn’t done in return,” she said.

“I want these men to stop with this Peace Queen bulls—that is continuing to oppress us all,” she added.

“If you are a part of another agenda or movement – I’m not…I wanna free my people,” said Natasha Danielle, 28, after the rally.

After hearing about the event from atext message from Joshua, she felt “it was important for black women and men to unite for this.”

“I’m not into feminist agendas and all of this ownership of coalitions…they can take all of this stuff cause I wanna take my freedom, “ she added.

And as the crowd began to die down at end of the second hour, Joshuareflected on the divide.

“I’m constantly fighting my own sexism,” he said. “I know that all black lives matter, especially women.”