Tag Archives: #protest

#ThisIsWhat Democracy LooksLike – Women’s March 2017 – NYC By Toi Powell

#ThisIsWhatDemocracyLooksLike

Women’s March 2017 – NYC
By Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.
Author, Toi Powell at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.

There are a million words I could choose  to describe my experience at yesterday’s Women’s March in NYC, but I feel they just won’t be poetic enough. My best, is to string together enough of them to help paint a picture for those of you who couldn’t or didn’t attend any of hundreds of sister marches held around the world. Millions of women and men worldwide descended upon their cities in solidarity and if my words aren’t enough, I put on my photographers hat in hopes that you could feel through my lens what I felt in person in NYC that day.

On Saturday morning, on the 21st of January, my Aunt Amanda, my friend Tasheea and I journeyed into Manhattan from NJ to march the streets of NY in support of the rights of women and everyone else who has felt the sting of discrimination, racism, sexism and all of the “isms” that are unfair and unjust to all human beings.

Book bags filled with our cameras and Project Pixie care packages of tampons, pads and wipes to distribute to homeless women in need of menstrual products, we marched onto the crowded streets to serve our purpose and the purpose of those around us. Women’s rights.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N. 1
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N. 1

My friend Tasheea has founded such an amazing campaign soon to be an organization to help women with low income- to none at all -access feminine hygiene products. This march is what we stand for, and what an amazing sight it was when we arrived. Tasheea’s campaign is called Project Pixie. Visit her website at iheartprojectpixie.org to see how you can make a change in the lives of women in need today.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Tasheea N. Founder of Project Pixie at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

When we arrived, the air buzzed with electricity, hummed with voices of every race, creed, gender, religious background and sexual orientation. Flags waved from poles, bridges, store front windows and apartment balconies. Witty posters, relate-able phrases, fists and handwriting on thin white pages soared through the air, thrust upwards by passionate demonstrators. Demonstrators who merged onto the streets of NYC to voice, shout and demand fair, equal, justice for all including gays, African Americans, women, Muslims, and anyone who has been discriminated against and whose very rights have been threatened by this incoming administration.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.
Author, Toi Powell and her Aunt Amanda at the Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Tasheea N.

Men joined us in step, marching a long side their wives, friends, daughters, girlfriends and children. Chanting and demanding justice for us and for all.

My favorite chant of the day was the call and response from men and women, “My body my choice” as the men would respond with “Her body her choice.” Empowering and uplifting, every person there, sharing the same positive contagious energy.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Without typing a long drawn out story, I must say my experience will stay with me forever. There were occasions where I teared up as I captured special moments through my camera’s lens. Moments that were not meant for me, but were being experienced in real time by my focal subject. Seeing the amazement, the love, the pride, the teaching, the curiosity and the awe in that “split” second where I was able to capture a moving target is what you will see in the galleries below.

Some of my favorite shots were on the bridge as we walked down 5th Ave, as I used my long lens to capture a group of young men above me, chant to the sea of demonstrators below, “Show me what Democracy Looks Like!” and the crowd responded with love, cheers and chants “This is what Democracy Looks Like!” The pride in their eyes is what held my heart.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

In a similar shot you can see them engaged in  chanting, but it is the gentleman to the far right in the red jacket who caught this moment. I felt a similar feeling when I went to higher ground to capture the sea of people. Yet, higher than I was, I can only imagine what he is feeling in that moment. Awe.

womens-march-2017-nyc-photo-credit-toi-powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Seeing the amazement on the faces of these children below was priceless. Mouths gaping, a sight to never forget I am sure.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Even those who could not join us in the streets, witnessed the magnetic demonstration from buildings above, joining us in spirit and solidarity.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

Symbolism in architecture and art, lined the route, giving us more purpose, more energy and more strength to stand, march and fight for our freedoms and rights.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

As we come together for a common cause, with branches of injustice written upon boards, shouted from every mouth and supported by every stranger who marched shoulder to shoulder, the message is clear…

Love Trumps hate. We will not go quietly into the good night. My body My Choice, and this…is what democracy looks like.

Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women's March 2017 - NYC Photo credit Toi Powell
Women’s March 2017 – NYC Photo credit Toi Powell

View My Special Gallery Below

Take a look at these cool shots from the entire day. (Read the signs!)

To My Nephews and Unborn Children: #MAYDAY

To My Nephews and Unborn Children:

I come to you as an aunt or future mother whose heart is too fragile to see you as yet another victim of a society that was not built for you. The pain of mothers past, present and unfortunately, the future supersedes anything the human soul can possibly comprehend. Your beauty as black men has been replaced by fear from those who never have or ever will understand you. Unfortunately this stigma has been placed upon you before your parents were even born.

Although you may feel equal to your peers of other cultures, you must remember for your life’s sake, that you are not; at least not yet. The fact that I am writing this is painful enough to admit, yet, it is the only advantage you will have in life. If you understand the difference between you and your multi-cultural brothers, you will understand what your fathers and brothers before you have come to understand and….you just may have a chance.

The times we live in are truly a time of confusion, heartache and pain. Painful that we are only fifty or so years out of segregation where people like you were bound by laws of this United States that criminalized you for being who you are. Simply for being…who…you…are. It’s painful that in the face of injustice from those who have owned us, sold us, oppressed us, killed us and destroyed our families and even with the insurmountable evidence against them, it is still not enough to lift the bounty from your heads.

Those who hate you and want to destroy you will do it, even with the law on their side. It’s painful that peaceful protests are rocking this country, yet the media would rather show the small few who loot and burn so they can generalize us all, rather than understand our pain. It hurts to read the comments on social media from “friends” of a different race who assume we are merely complaining and can’t relate to our suffering. And speaking of suffering, it pains me to go to work every day and suffer in silence as the visuals of our dead men laying in the street rack my brain, mixed with deadlines of work I could care less about.

The only dead lines I fear are the chalk outlines of young black men who look just like you.

My heart is heavy with despair as I must prepare you for the life you are about to enter as a black man in America. It’s unfair, it’s humiliating and it hurts but you MUST heed my warning or else your young lives will add to the millions of young black men whose lives have been taken from us way too soon.

There are some rules that you as black men must be aware of and it applies to you and only you. Here are a few:

  1. Do not let your frustration or anger of being racially profiled, followed, harassed, and frisked or provoked cause you to REact in the way they expect- in the face of law enforcement. This includes being loud, belligerent, ghetto, untamed or simply upset. There are some who will use even the excuse of a sneeze to kill you in cold blood.
  1. Do not walk with your hands in your pockets in public places. If your hands are cold, wear gloves. Pockets were not made with you in mind. The image of you has been plastered on TV and ingrained in the minds of people who are not like you, brainwashing them to fear you. And because they do, they do not see you searching for warmth but instead searching for a gun we all know you don’t have. They will call the police who will take their word over yours and never stop to ask you questions before shooting you dead.
  2. This is one of the hardest things I will have to tell you but you will only have your own judgment to guide you. As scary as it may be, WHEN the police wrongfully approach you (and in your lifetime this will happen more than a few times), you MUST stand there and face fear directly in the face. Do not move unless they tell you to. Answer them and follow every direction they give. As humiliating as the demands, you must comply. I know it will hurt physically, emotionally and spiritually but your highest priority is to stay alive! DO NOT give them a reason, although they need none. Even as I write this, I know that this too is a gamble. Like facing a beast in the woods, do you stand still so you don’t provoke it, or do you turn and run because you know either way, you’re dead? I beg of you, do not run. Live to survive another day, to find another way to rise above this.
  1. If you want to record your interactions with police, use your phone but have it out before they approach you. They do not want to see you reaching for anything. Be polite, answer questions and although you have rights, unfortunately – these rights do not apply to you. Be aware. You have a right to record and to ask questions but, as a black man, this is a provocation. They will see you as a threat and use this as an excuse to do what we have already seen them do and get away with it.

Last but not least…

  1. Do not forget the fallen. Whatever you do, remember their roles in this universe. To bring awareness to an epidemic much larger than any known disease this world has ever seen. Racism is your biggest enemy and it has been killing our people for hundreds of years. There have been more black lives taken since the beginning of slavery til the very day you read this letter. Do not become another one of them. Always remember those who came before you.

I am weak and drained with sadness from the injustice plaguing this country but I have found the strength to instill in you the truth of what it is like to be a black man in America.

Although I have not listed every occurrence, know that racism hides behind closed doors, grand jury’s and badges. If you know this, then you know you must find a peaceful way to make a change.

You are powerful, strong, beautiful human beings and change can happen but, it starts with you. Sometimes it seems as if you must represent yourself in ways only Jesus can. Like you must be perfect to even have half of their respect, but you must think and grow beyond that. You must find ways to protest injustice without inciting violence, looting, destruction and pain; which not onlyaffects others but also affects your own people.

You have a responsibility to educate yourselves in your history, in the trends of disparity among our culture so that you may have the tools you need to finally defeat this enemy.

You are our future and though they may target our future with police brutality, I won’t let them succeed which is why I am leaving you with these words of advice.

You will be carrying on where others have left off but what are most important are two things:

  1. Do not forget the fallen
  2. Stay alive

Always remember to keep love and peace in your hearts. No matter how hard it becomes you must hold on to your humanity, no matter how hard they try to take it away.

Be strong my young black children and never forget the fallen.

#Mayday #MikeBrown #BlackLivesMatter  #MaydayBlackAmerica  #blackamerica  #protest  #love  #unity #Ferguson  #nojusticenopeace  #justice  #TrayvonMartin  #EricGarnet  #EzellFord #KajiemePowell  #DarrenHunt  #CameronTillman  #VonDerritMyers #KaldrickDonald  #TaneshaAnderson  #AkaiGurley  #TamirRice  #America