Black Women Rally in Defense of Rep. Ilhan Omar
Thursday, May 2, 2019
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: Hi, I’m Jacqueline Luqman with The Real News Network, in front of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C. I’m here today at the rally to defend Representative Ilhan Omar.
KEEANGA-YAMAHTTA TAYLOR: The lack of meaningful support from Omar coming from her own party, the Democratic Party, necessitated a much stronger response, because we know that the attacks on Omar are not just about her. I mean, in many ways, they are about her as a Black woman, as a refugee, as an immigrant. And, you know, as someone with politics that really stand outside the norm in Washington. But it’s also an attack on people who embody those politics, people who embody those identities, who often have politics that are critical of the status quo in the political establishment.
SEVONNA BROWN: Since her 2018 election, Congresswoman Omar has been targeted by this administration and others who fear her. And we believe they should fear her. Not because of the absurd dog whistle language being used to denigrate her, but rather they should be more than a little cautious of Black women who fight for people’s agendas, who remain afraid unafraid of anti-Blackness, Islamophobia, white male patriarchy. They should be afraid because, like our sister Ilhan, we aren’t backing down.
ANGELA DAVIS: If one person or a few people engage in–or are accused of engaging in–a crime, the entire community is rendered culpable. This is the logic of lynching. If you can’t find one, get another. And this is the, this is the fungibility that is at the heart of racism that Ilhan Omar was discussing when she said that some people do something, and all of us lose access to civil liberties.
REP. ILHAN OMAR: So a sister of mine on TV said the thing that upsets, the thing that upsets the occupant of the White House, his goons in the Republican Party, many of our colleagues in the Democratic Party, is that–is that they can’t stand, they cannot stand, that a refugee, a Black woman, an immigrant, a Muslim, shows up in Congress thinking she’s equal to them.
But I say to them, how else did you expect me to show up?
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: Representatives of the freshman class of progressive Black women of color came out to the U.S. Capitol to not just stand in defense of Ilhan Omar, but to serve notice to a Democratic Party that’s been ineffective in protecting their own, allegedly, from the attacks of the far right and the white supremacist factions within the Republican Party.
REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY: I am changing the things I can no longer accept. And from R. Kelly to Donald Trump, what we can no longer accept is the silencing of Black women. This is the reckoning. This is us assuming our rightful place as the table shakers, as the truth tellers, as the justice seekers, as the preservers of democracy. We are demanding that you trust Black women. That you see Black women. That you believe Black women, and honor us for the role that we have played as healers and preservers of this democracy and this nation. You have been feeding, quite literally, off of us.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB: They continue to police our words. They continue to police our positions. But I say, hands off. Hands off of the women of color that serve in the United States Congress. Not only, not only do we look differently, but we serve and we fight differently. And it also means that we talk differently. It’s also that we are allowed to be angry in this country.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: We spoke to Nina Turner about what this event means in regard to Representative Omar’s fight, not just with the Republicans who mischaracterize her words, but also with the Democrats who refuse to defend her and what that means for progressives coming into this new election season.
NINA TURNER: What I urge progressives to do, and all people, whether they identify as progressives or not, is to really look deep inside in terms of who we say we are. This is not just about the person in the White House. This type of bigotry has existed in this country since its existence. So what is our moral obligation to humanity?
Sisters and brothers, I would be remiss, as I told the professor, that it is easy to lay all of this haterism at the feet of one person. But I ask you to go back down memory lane with me, that in this country wholesale anti-Blackness is accepted whether it’s by the man in the White House or people who occupy levels of power in this country. It is bigger than him.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: From the stage we heard Angela Davis connect the struggles of not just Black women in America, but all of the different marginalized groups that Representative Ilhan Omar embodies in herself.
REP. ILHAN OMAR: I can’t tell you how enormously inspiring you have been to me throughout my life. And the work that you have done in making us realize that we have to be internally liberated, to fight for external liberation, has been lifesaving for people like me who had to navigate what it feels like to grow up Black in this country. So thank you.
NINA TURNER: To me on the same stage with Dr. Angela Davis is a highlight of my life. It’s the second time I’ve been in her presence. And everything that she has done, from going to jail, standing up for women who she didn’t even know. And that is why our history matters, and it matters that all people stand up against injustice, no matter how we identify. This is about humanity.
ANGELA DAVIS: If you want to effectively challenge anti-Semitism, then you must recognize the intersections and interrelations of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. And of course, the recent attacks on synagogues and mosques are evidence of this convergence. I’d like to thank Jewish Voice for Peace and If Not Now for continually reminding us of this connection.
And finally, as Black Women in Defense of Ilhan Omar, we invite all who believe in freedom and justice and peace to join us. Thank you.
JACQUELINE LUQMAN: This is Jacqueline Luqman with The Real News Network at the U.S. Capitol in Washington D.C.