More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century. More girls are killed in this routine gendercide in any one decade than people were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century. ― Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wu-Dunn, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
I first heard the quote above from Half the Sky on #TEDLive webcast stream by co-author Sheryl Wu-Dunn (whose name does not appear on the Goodreads page where I found the quote alongside her more famous husband journalist’s highly recognized name). It shook me. The scope of the statistical comparison stopped me in my tracks. Why don’t we realize this? My answer tends to be what bell hooks calls ““imperialist white-supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” This brings me to the hashtag controversy over #BringOurGirlsBack. While conservatives mock the power of Twitter hashtag’s to galvanize public opinion around #BringBackOurGirls, a social media movement (SMS) to return over 200+ girls who were kidnapped by Boko Haram in Chibok, Nigeria, and while others poo-poo the power of 140 characters, or social media for good, some artists are simply using participatory media to voice the cause to their micro-audiences and beyond.
Fellow TED Fellow Iyeoka Ivie Okoawof is one of them. She is a Nigerian-born singer-songwriter living in Boston who travels around the world spreading love through song, poetry and her amazing soul. She and I ziplined together and performed together at last year’s first TED Fellows Retreat in Whistler, Canada. I am sharing a beuatifully powerful and empowering poem titled THE UNITY REQUIRED TO BREAK FREE which she just published on YouTube dedicated to the #BringBackOurGirls movement.
The purpose of the poem and unity is to facilitate the soul light energy required from humanity to actively participate in the cultivation of love to transform the dysfunctional presence of suffering, war, and hate.
The existence of the poem encourages a deep and personal sense of courage, respect, forgiveness and understanding to all beings expressing life on earth.
This SMS (social media movement) is on some level re-globalizing, virally spreading the local knowledge of women and girls who live in Chennai, Chibok, Chicago and places like Riyadh, Saudi Arabia or the boroughs of New York City: The lives of girls and esp. girls of color, even more so in far too many places, the lives of black girls are under siege, victims of rape, sexual assault, moetional and financial abuse, character assassinations, labor restrictions like infant mortality rates and childbirth deaths, and the limits on their mobility to work or drive in places called democracies. And it seems few journalists in major media outlets cared until the hashtag. Twitter’s hashtag has become a powerful tool for battling indifference towards people of color, women and now girls. It tackles the intangible aspects of culture that diminish the value of more than half the world’s population. Killing off parts of humanity leaving despair, cynicism and fear. Not everyone agrees that America should play a role in trying to find the 200+ girls missing from their families and communities. I too agree there are larger social forces at work that require a much more radical attempt to uproot such oppression.
A recent Guardian article titled “Dear World, your hashtags won’t #BringBackOurGirls” speaks to this criticism, but the symbolic power of FLOTUS Michelle Obama posing in a photograph with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls is helping. It further galvanizes international attention as well as local-national attention here in the U.S.. The oppression against girls and women in black communities and in the world is a pandemic crisis all children, women and men should agitate themselves to care about as well as major organizations and institutions. It’s why I do the work I am up to on Black Girls On YouTube and why I joined the Black Girl Project run by Aeisha Turner in Brooklyn as a board member. I care. And I won’t stop til it stops!
Kyraocity’s ASK OF THE DAY:
The next time you see the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls, Share This! Share Iyeoka’s video!!