In the midst of a week filled with anger and fear following the white supremacist incited hate speech and violence against the black and other POC communities in Charlottesville this past Saturday, The Black Brilliance Collective brings a message of strength and hope to Pittsburgh. On Saturday, August 19, The Black Brilliance Collective will host a March and Gathering to “amplify black voices and issues, protect black bodies, and celebrate black communities.” The event is part of National Day of Action called for by the Movement for Black Lives. It will run from 1:00PM to 5:00PM and take place in Westinghouse Park on Thomas Boulevard.
The event arose out of a community meeting that was held on Tuesday, August 15 at the Kingsley Association in East Liberty. Organized by community leaders Daeja Baker, Felicity Ansonia, Ciora Thomas, Celeste Smith, Sueno Del Mar, and Brittani Murray, the meeting emphasized the voices of East Liberty residents and black women and femmes, and centered on preparedness and safety. Initially, the meeting was called in order to discuss action steps for a response to the March on Google, a protest led by Infowars and white supremacist and conspiracy theorist Jack Posobiec; however, the march has since been formally cancelled.
In response to the cancellation of the March on Google, the organizers of the meeting published the following statement:
You may have seen reports that the March on Google is cancelled. Concerned residents and citizens who gathered last night are still planning an official event to celebrate our black community as part of a National Call to Action. The event was prompted by Charlottesville and the March on Google, but is not a counter protest and not at Google. It is a counter narrative, and a reminder that Charlottesville is not an isolated moment.
While it is likely that these folks will still show up in Pittsburgh on Saturday, we are not currently aware of any planned action based on a direct encounter. There was a community meeting held on 8/15 to give voice to the residents of neighborhoods that may be directly affected as well as to the black community and other marginalized communities. While there has been a call for action, the overall consensus has been a focus on safety. That said, please decide to prioritize your own safety and the safety of the community when choosing when, where, and how to engage on Saturday. Given the messaging provided with the March on Google cancellation referring to would-be counter protestors as “terrorist threats” we urge you to refrain from engaging in any activity that may ultimately incite violence in a way that would be damaging to individual citizens, the community, or the movement. In the meantime, we urge you to continue to contact local officials including Mayor Peduto, Rep. Ed Gainey, Rev. Richie Burgess, and the Zone 5 Police in an effort to encourage them to protect the community and prevent these potentially dangerous people from demonstrating in our city.
While the focus of the March and Gathering centers on a celebration of black voices and community in the face of violence, intimidation, and hate, the prioritization of safety – both on a personal and a communal level – remains consistent. On Tuesday, many of the speakers and organizers emphasized issues and goals that extend beyond the events of Saturday.
Bomani Howze, who led a safety presentation and discussion, encourages residents to “be prepared for your Sunday and your Monday.”
Additionally, during the community discussion, Celeste Smith read from the Movement for Black Lives’ A Vision for Black Lives. The document calls for an end to the war on black people, reparations, investment in education and divestment from exploitative forces, economic justice, community control, and political power.
“These are just some of the demands that I’m putting out there,” she says, “that I think could be real movement building.”
Her statement is a reminder that not all battles occur on the streets. We must continue to fight systemic racism through policy change and political action. You can contribute to the movement by supporting black voices and communities at The Black Brilliance Collective: March and Gathering.
Updates and information about the event, as well as a video that addresses issues to which the event is responding, can be found on its Facebook page. If you cannot make it to the event you can follow their facebook and the Pittsburgh Feminists for Intersectionality twitter page to watch the events live streamed.
Additionally, you can donate to #WeAreTheMajority Funds for Resisters here.