“I believe that our lives are shaped by the women who are in them. Whether that’s the single parent, the stay at home mom, the educators, the advocates – these are the women that are empowering us, uplifting us.“
Featuring music, artists, dancers, poets, and speakers, nearly 100 people gathered at the Rhode Island State House to celebrate “nasty womxn” and to speak out against “injustice and violence towards Womxn, BIPOC, and our LGBTQ+ community.”
Organizers Elikapeka Torres, Mel Bynam and Jessica Garcia planned the rally to:
- get people out to vote on or before November 3 for candidates that support Womxn;
- honor Ruth Bader Ginsberg and her last wish, to not be replaced until a new President is installed;
- show up for Womxn rights;
- honor Breonna Taylor and all the other women who have died at the hands of injustice; and,
- support victims of Domestic Violence.
The event, held during a spike in COVID-19 cases in Rhode Island, was socially distanced and all attendees wore masks. The Rhode Island Department of Health was on hand to provide masks to those who needed them.
The event began with a land acknowledgement and a blessing from Bella Noka and members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe:
Violinist Julie Voight:
Music by Lily Rhodes:
Dance by Sacred Flame:
“In just two weeks time we’re going to have a chance to cast our ballot and decide what future and what direction we want for our country,” said Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This is our chance to send a message to Washington and across the world that the last four years are not who we are and they are not who we stand for.”
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Reverend Carl Jefferson provided a blessing and spoke on trauma:
Psychotherapist and Educator Sonia B Gomes, LICSW, spoke about dealing with trauma and shame:
Bethany Sousa Foster, running as a Democrat for the Bristol Town Council, spoke about what her first time running for office has been like. Sousa Foster was immediately targeted by right-wing trolls upon announcing her intention to run. A lot was made about a picture on her Facebook feed that showed Wonder Woman under the word antifa.
“I had posted that picture because I love Wonder Woman and I am anti-fascist,” said Sousa Foster. More and more online vitriol came her way, from both in and out of the Town of Bristol. Sousa Foster’s car was vandalized outside her home after someone online suggested doing a drive by her house.
After the initial wave of online hate subsided, it moved to her local paper, which published a conspiracy laced letter from a reader labeling Sousa Foster a supporter of antifa and Black Lives Matter. When Sousa Foster responded, informing the paper that our heroes, Wonde Woman, Captain America, Indiana Jones and Sousa Foster’s grandfather, who had fought in WWII were all anti-fascists, more letters were sent attacking her.
These letters were strange, said Sousa Foster, because, “It’s really hard to attack someone for being anti-fascist without seeming anti-antifascist, or, you know, fascist.”
These letters, many of them, were from people she knew and had worked with in the town. The first troll who attacked her was a Facebook friend she went to high school with who had done work on her house the previous summer. They know her. But now, they were vilifying her.
“Antifa is the right’s boogie-man,” said Sousa Foster. “They fear it, but they can’t really prove it exists. I’m kind of flattered that think I’m scary, that they associate me with the boogie-man because I’ve never been considered scary or intimidating before. But I think it’s revealing, because what could be scarier to a misogynistic conservative than a smart, accomplished, progressive woman that they obviously think has a chance of winning this election?”
Central Falls City Councilmember Jessica Vega spoke about her inspirational grandmother. “She spoke fiercely with truth, love and empowerment,” said Vega. “Unknowingly to me at the time my grandmother was also the first feminist. She was the one who taught me the value of hard work, the magic of being a woman, and also the need to become educated and get a good job so you could financially depend on yourself, and not on a man.
“I believe that our lives are shaped by the women who are in them. Whether that’s the single parent, the stay at home mom, the educators, the advocates – these are the women that are empowering us, uplifting us.”
“I have many titles and many labels,” said Brianna Henries. “I am Black. I am Nipmuc and Narragansett. I am Cape Verdean. I am a daughter. I am a sister. A friend. I’m also a retail manager, a theater teacher and a whole lot of other things. You ask my friends I’m the loudmouth or the caretaker. But more recently, in a crazy bout of actions, I decided to run for office and I’ve now added the title of State Representative-elect.”
Upon being sworn in in January, Henries will be represented District 64 in East Providence.
Historian and educator Jenna Magnuski spoke about the arc of history, and the Rhode Island women who worked so hard to bend it towards justice, especially around voting rights.
Poetry from B Mor Seven:
“We all want change,” said rally co-organizer Mel Bynum. “And how are we going to get that change? We all need to vote. And we need to get everyone else out to vote. And not only do we need to get this racist president out of the White House, we also have to get the House and the Senate, because that’s the only way things are going to change.”
“I have a voice and as long as I am alive and in the right, it will be used,” said rally co-organizer Elikapeka Torres.