Thottie™ Brand not only represents freedom of self-expression but demands freedom from racism and police brutality. At the height of the Black Lives Matter Movement this past June, I asked women from various parts of the country about their experiences. They expressed their thoughts, feelings, and offered steps to move forward. Two months later, the movement has remained strong despite the lack of continuous media coverage. In fact, the BLM movement has gone international, with protests in the UK and other parts of the world. There have been peaceful protests, petitions signed, and justice demanded.
- Bri, Thottie™ Brand Culture Creator
Danielle: “Right now, I’m still so so. When George Floyd’s murder was floating around social media, that really served as the catalyst of my emotions and got my adrenaline going. Even before then, I was deeply saddened by the murders of our many fallen soldiers.”
Mariah: “There’s sooo much to say with sooo little time. Being of age during this movement is very interesting- especially compared to previous times of protest. Now it seems like the masses are on one accord; are a little smarter and wiser than we all were five years ago.
It’s definitely overwhelming in both good and bad ways seeing our people joined together under one mission but on the other hand, also seeing just have far we haven’t come, when it comes to tackling racism and human rights in this country.“
Anonymous: “I’m feeling okay. I’ve been doing a lot of social media distancing because, although it does help you stay in touch with everything going on I am very easily triggered, and seeing a lot of pain on the TL is very harmful to my mental health.”
Angelica: “How am I feeling? Angry. Breonna Taylor’s killers are still free men. They still get to go home to their families. Binge new shows on Netflix. Pull up to a drive-thru for burgers. Proving every day that Black Lives do not matter to the masses. I also feel conflicted. I hate what policing was built on. I hate that there are a few bad apples that further perpetuate the stigma of officers. But I also hate it when people hate all police. Not everyone is a bad apple. As someone who has immediate family in law enforcement, I am at a crossroads. My mom isn’t a bad apple. My brother isn’t a bad apple. Yet they are lumped in with police officers who take advantage. At the same time, I hate when my family looks at me differently or feels a certain way when I do speak out against police brutality. They think I’m Like the others that group them with the masses of “all police”. But I’m not.”
Roxy: “I’m feeling a weird mix of things right now. On one hand, I’m feeling overworked and frustrated with how resistant our society and government is to change. On the other hand, I’m feeling optimistic that I can effectuate change in my own circles and communities.”
Anonymous: "Although the past month has given lots of anger and anxiety, it has been inspiring to see people come together in their commitment for a better world.”
Dae: “I feel liberated. I feel like it’s been a long time coming, that my ancestors and santos have been preparing me for years for a revolution, and now is the time. The best and most beautiful thing is that black women of all backgrounds, orientations, and social classes are coming together to not only dismantle the system but give us solutions for a better future.”
Danielle | Columbus, Ohio: “I’ve seen some things as I actively participated in a protest for some time. I’ve seen people with frustrations, hurt, sadness, and adrenaline outside the State House on Columbus. I’ve seen some people extremely angry and ready do to whatever in this fight for justice and end police brutality. I’ve personally witnessed looting and police using excessive force towards peaceful protest. Week one, I was outside amongst other protestors taking a moment of silence on the sidewalk. Suddenly, police came in full riot gear and drove in on tanks and attacked us with rubber bullets and tear gas. We all ran in large groups together and everywhere we ran, police had us cornered in and we were under attack in broad daylight. I’ve seen us take a moment is sadness and turn the streets of downtown into one huge block party! I’ve marched amongst thousands of protestors from downtown, through the short north, OSU, and over 9 miles and 4 hours of marching chanting “Black Lives Matter”. It’s empowering and emotional all at once.”
Angelica | Cleveland, Ohio: “I currently live in Cleveland and honestly, the protests seemed sort of weak. It wasn’t overwhelming enough. Most times I hadn’t even known there was a protest until it already ended. I am from NYC and whenever there were protests they made statements. They were loud. They lasted days. Weeks. I honestly felt useless during this movement. I wanted to be on the front lines but I’m a single mom. A lot of the protests that have turned into riots have done so really quickly. I can’t risk putting myself or my daughter’s life in danger. I signed as many petitions I could. I forwarded them. I bring awareness to my following on social media. But I feel like nothing I do.... nothing we do-will make things better. For hundreds of years, we’ve been stagnant.”
Anonymous | Boston, Massachusetts: “My city has seen so many protests and support networks for Black people at this time. It seems like there is one every day! For whatever reason, the police have not been as brutal here as they have been in other cities. However, I will only give accolades to cops when they quit their jobs.”
Anonymous | Iowa: “Unfortunately, I live in dumb a** Iowa so there weren’t very many protests. There was one but it lasted for a weekend and that was three weeks ago…”
Roxy | California: “To be honest, I’ve mostly been in the suburbs with my parents for the last few weeks, so I haven’t seen anything large scale. I will say, though, that in my small, predominantly white, affluent hometown of Palos Verdes CA, I saw the very first sit-out demonstration EVER be held by high school students in support of BLM.”
Dae | Ninth Ward, New Orleans, Louisiana: “When they first started to protest in New Orleans after George Floyd, it was a slow roar. Every day the protest increased more and more; peaceful and televised until Wednesday night. It was like any other Wednesday; we sang and danced and screamed and showed black and brown joy as well as pain as we peacefully walked in droves up the bridge like we had done nights before.
Only this time was different. Only this time we were met with rubber bullets and tear gas canisters. There were nine riot cops ready to ”air us out” for having the audacity to protest the patriarchy and their white supremacy.
I remember the exact moment when the first tear gas canister spiraled through the air and I remember thinking; don’t panic, don’t run. Fighting through the fear is the only way to get out of this alive. And even still amid the screams & the coughing, we stood our ground. Women assembled to shield the children that came with us; using our bodies as protection for their eyes & nose. People blindly trusting others to lead them to medics; staying together closely and tight so cops couldn’t arrest stragglers, like hurt antelope and they were the vicious hyenas preying on us unarmed and sequestered on the highway.
There have been no riots or looting in the entire city of New Orleans. Not even after the horrible display of police brutality that night. And even right after, my eyes and lungs were cleared we continued to protest peacefully for another hour holding up an eight-year-old child; a beautiful black boy as our symbol of love and light and that we will never stop fighting. We will never stop doing the work that needs to be done. We are not our ancestor’s generation; You can get these hands or you can get this knowledge.
It’s been almost a month and we have yet to stop protesting daily. We have yet to stop fighting verbally via social media, through petitions, and through simple zapato power; putting our feet to the pavement and our bodies in the street so that they can physically see our presence.”
Anonymous: “Some advice to people. . . It has been so illuminating reading about the struggles of Black liberation movements before this. We have a lot to learn! Reading works from the Black Panthers, especially Assata Shakur and Angela Davis, is great for times like this. Do not take pictures of protestors unless they are blurred beyond recognition. Doing otherwise is fed shit. Remember there are ways to support the movement without being in the streets - feeding protestors, donating, and helping people in other ways is very important!"
Dae: “My advice to those who are scared of the violence and the unknown that is coming is that it’s already here. You can choose to fight however you need to but that all we’re doing now is pulling back the veil- instead of hiding all that ugliness underneath the rug of the United States of America. I can honestly say I AM fighting to truly make this the land of the brave and the home of the free”
Mariah: “Three pieces of advice that I would give anyone is. . Always take a mental break from the internet because it’s not healthy to continuously subject ourselves to trauma. Get prepared; as the chaos continues we don’t know what’s next. If you’re protesting gear up, if you’re walking the streets alone strap up, stay prayed up, and get healthy because we have a long fight ahead of us. Find your place: everybody is going to have a different job in the movement some are the warriors, some are the organizers. Discover your talents and figure out how it can benefit the community. We are all we have.”
Fatima: “I’ve learned to adjust to everything going and keep my peace.”
Angelica: “Stay involved. Don’t forget the end goal. Continue to hashtag. Continue to educate your friends who are not of color. Keep signing petitions. Do not stay silent! When we’re silent, we’re silenced. We forget. We’re forgotten.”
Anonymous: “I think the best thing we can all do is to continue to educate ourselves/others and not use our knowledge as a way to place ourselves above others. I’ve seen a lot of that happening lately and it’s kind of lame.”
Danielle: “Remember, take a break and soak it all in. Join local nonprofit organizations that support social movements and give back to black communities by volunteering your time and skills.”