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Lucy Siale: Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ isn’t enough; we have to act like it

September 25, 2017

by Lucy Siale

On Friday, June 16, as soon as she heard that the cop who murdered Philando Castile was acquitted, 16-year-old Lucy Siale posted on Facebook a call for a Black Lives Matter protest the next day, less than 24 hours after the verdict, at Oscar Grant Plaza outside Oakland City Hall. About 400 people came out.

Lucy Siale, 16-year-old Tongan organizer extraordinaire, speaks passionately at a rally the day after Charlottesville was invaded by Nazis. The words on her throat say, “I’m not scared.” – Photo: Rudy Ruiz

“She is not with any organization,” writes Adrienne Fong, the unofficial calendar editor and town crier for resistance of all kinds in the Bay Area. “No ego and no group ego involved.

“Speakers were not the usual known speakers or from groups, and there wasn’t even a sound system till near the end when someone brought a megaphone. It was one of the most moving actions that I have attended.

“On Sept. 9, she organized an action in support of DACA. Over 2,000 people came out!”

Here’s what Lucy wrote the day after the June event:

I want to say thank you. Thank you to everyone who attended. Thank you to those of you who supported this event in alternative ways. Thank you to the indigenous folks who took care of and defended the Ohlone land that we gathered upon. And thank you to those of you who spoke.

I also want to say I’m sorry. To the beautiful Black folks reading this, I’m sorry that this didn’t happen sooner. But saying sorry won’t help combat the injustices plaguing your community and other marginalized groups. An apology is not enough. We have to do better. We have to do better. WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.

Maybe I’m naïve. Maybe I’m dramatic. Or maybe I’m pretty damn right when I say that waiting for a change to come only brings more caskets. Silence in the face of injustice only digs more graves. And tolerance for terrorism against Black folks in Amerikkka has taken too many lives, already.

And yes, I’m focusing on Black folks right now. This fight and the rally was centered entirely around empowering and uniting with Black folks. And we joined together, primarily, to stand in solidarity with Black folks across the country.

Waiting for a change to come only brings more caskets. Silence in the face of injustice only digs more graves. And tolerance for terrorism against Black folks in Amerikkka has taken too many lives, already.

The police officers (murderers) who shot and killed Philando Castile, Trayvon Martin and Akai Gurley were non-Black people of color. Anti-Blackness also exists and thrives within non-Black communities of color as it does in white, and we have to recognize and check that.

I organized this event – not so that I would get credit. I’m not looking for thank-yous. And I’m not looking for recognition. I’m looking for a “see you next time.” I’m looking for the white women who showed up to the women’s march to show up to rallies like these. I’m looking for people to step up and defend Black folks just like they’ve defended us.

This is the banner Lucy posted on Facebook to summon people to the Justice for Philando Castile rally June 17.

I am 16 years old. I’m hella Brown. I’m young, and I’m Tongan. I don’t have a lot of money. I don’t work with any specific organization – and I don’t have as many resources or experience as some of you do.

I don’t know much, but I know that waiting for change – and silence in response to oppression – only contributes to the terrorism on Black communities. It’s a major element that plays into the fact that too many Black bodies are sitting in graves, currently.

We have to keep going; we have to keep organizing. We have to keep up this momentum because telling Black children to “do the right thing” is not enough anymore to keep them alive. We have to continue because we saw what the products of silence were. We have to continue because Dylann Roof made it to Burger King while Sandra Bland never made it home.

We have to continue because too many Black women have been bent and broken in order for us to give up on them. We have to continue because Black women NEVER gave up on us. We have to continue because Black children deserve to grow up without fear.

We have to keep going; we have to keep organizing. We have to keep up this momentum.

We have to continue because if the people paid to protect and serve our communities choose to do the opposite when it comes to transgender Black womyn – then it is on us to fight for and with them.

We have to continue because Black folks have been terrorized for centuries and if a broke, 16-year-old Brown girl can organize against that – then WE ALL CAN. We have to continue because being Black is not a crime and we have to stop acting like it is. We have to continue because saying “Black Lives Matter” isn’t enough. We have to act like it.

We have to act like it.

I have never seen so much community. I have never witnessed such a strong, empowered and determined group of beautiful people at an arm’s-length distance. And I can testify that I know what the future looks like – I saw it staring back at me in the middle of Oscar Grant Plaza yesterday.

We all unified together under bizarre conditions – and within an hour, a group of several hundred strangers became a family. And if that isn’t power – if that isn’t the foundation of a revolutionary movement, then I don’t know what is.

We have to continue because saying “Black Lives Matter” isn’t enough. We have to act like it.

I’m in high school. If you asked me five years ago what I wanted to do with my life – I would have never guessed that this would be it. And if you ask me that same question, now – I can’t picture myself doing anything else.

Black folks are everything and more – you ALL are beautiful and stunning. You have a spirit that continues to radiate endless light. You are capable and full of strength, and each and every one of you is enough. You are worth the fight. You matter.

To the allies who came through: Thank you. Our voices and support are needed in this movement; solidarity and unity are stronger than separation. I hope you all got home safely last night – and I hope you left feeling inspired. I hope you left feeling loved and cared for.

I hope you left remembering that there is still more healing to do. But most importantly, I hope you left hungry and thirsty for change. I hope you remember that we all are embodiments of this movement, and fear only dwindles our flame.

I’ll see you all soon. Unfortunately, we are gathering together under tragic circumstances. But this work is necessary – and if we won’t do it, then who will?

So please – don’t make excuses. The fight is not over until every lock and chain has been loosened and freed from the ankles of the suffering.

And thank you, again. Thank you for having faith in a young, angry Brown girl with a lot to say. I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon, and I hope the same goes for each and every one of you.

The time is now.

Contact Lucy Siale on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/lucy.katinia.

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