Ohio University’s Women’s Center is holding Say Her Name events throughout Spring Semester to honor the lives and further the conversation of Black women who have faced police brutality.
The events are an extension of the Say Her Name movement, which started as a hashtag on social media and has grown into a platform to elevate the names of Black women who were killed or harmed by police brutality and are often forgotten amid the Black Lives Matter movement.
Say Her Name lives within the African American Policy Forum and the Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies. The Women’s Center staff felt this was a good cause to get behind, as part of the center’s mission is to explore issues related to women through an intersectional lens.
Geneva Murray, director of the Women’s Center, wants these events to help people connect with that movement and to think about what police violence has specifically meant for Black women.
“So often, and the reason why the Say Her Name movement began: we don't talk about Black women who have been killed by police in the same measure that we have talked about Black men,” Murray said. “That's not to say that we are talking about Black men enough when it comes to police brutality, but it is to say that when we are looking at inequalities, we need to also be sure that we're including a gendered lens as well as looking at things through intersectional forms of oppression. So not just gender and race, but also thinking in regards to the Trans Lives Matter Movement, etcetera.”
The center scheduled one event per month during the Spring Semester as well as a few in the Fall Semester of 2020. The events are all virtual and free to anyone who’d like to participate. Attendees are asked to simply register online two days prior to the event, and registration can be found on the SayHerName page on the Women’s Center section of OU’s website.
January’s event was a themed discussion focused on self-care for social justice advocates. On Wednesday, Feb. 17, Mayor Steve Patterson and Councilwoman Sarah Grace will be featured to speak about issues related to Say Her Name and supporting women of color at OU. From 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., people can converse with Mayor Patterson and Councilwoman Grace, and from 1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., there will be an optional community debriefing.
The plans for the March 17 gathering are still being finalized, but the 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. April 21 gathering will be a themed discussion focused on a letter writing campaign to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence who are incarcerated.
“The Women's Center is very happy to provide a space to facilitate those who are in attendance of the gatherings to have these conversations and to think about the direction that they want to move forward,” Murray said.
The Say Her Name events are also a way to further promote diversity and inclusion between OU students, faculty and staff.
Winsome Chunnu-Brayda, director of diversity and inclusion, hopes people who know little about the movement attend to learn more and people who are active within the movement attend to continue their support and be active in raising their voices.
“As always, the event is specifically around women of color,” Chunnu-Brayda said. “It is an opportunity to bring people from all backgrounds, not just women of color, because that's what the goal of diversity is: to bring everyone together to dialogue around how we can all support each other. That is what we always tend to see at these kinds of events.”
Students from all walks of life are looking forward to attending these events and continuing the conversation.
“I think OU’s choice of hosting SayHerName events is an excellent step in the direction of recognizing the voices of Black women,” Julia Greenwood, a freshman studying journalism, said in a message. “The stories of all POC who have lost their lives or suffered violence at the hands of police are valid, but it seems as though the narratives of Black women and WOC are often overlooked and given less investment. These events send the strong message that as a University, OU has decided that the stories of Black women like Breonna Taylor are valid, important and worth standing up for.”