How Philly Activists Want You (Yes, You) to Support Their Efforts

From ThinkFest, Feminista Jones, Shani Akilah, and Abdul-Aliy Muhammad on Philly’s obligations to the oppressed.

Session 3, Philly and the Age of Activism

Posted by Philadelphia Magazine on Thursday, November 9, 2017

Undoubtably one of our most power-packed panels at ThinkFest on Thursday was “Philly and the Age of Activism,” with writer Feminista Jones and Shani Akilah and Abdul-Aliy Muhammad of the Black and Brown Workers Collective, moderated by Michael Coard.

The segment was compelling from the start: Coard kicked it off with a brief moment of protest in support of those battling racism across America. From there, topics included incarceration, the death penalty, racial inequity, and Philly’s high poverty rate.

Toward the end of the panel, Coard asked each of the speakers for their “marching orders” on how Philly can help combat oppression. Here are their answers.

Abdul-Aliy Muhammad
“Give your resources to Black Lives Matter organizers, to Black and Brown communities struggling with being undocumented, or targeted by ICE, to black trans women. Step aside and allow those communities to have voices.”

Shani Akilah
“I believe in the power of confrontation. When we talk about development … are we talking about who is being displaced?”

“Are you living in a community where you are gentrifying? If so, the only response to that is to move so long-term residents can remain there. When people get pushed of their neighborhoods, there are psychological and emotional impacts. Where are you in these conversations?”

“Create more equity for everyone around you, people who don’t look like you.”

Feminista Jones
“First of all, Pennsylvania has no women representing the state, and the state has a majority of women. Why are you doing nothing about that? You should wake up every day angry.”

“Number two, where are the poor people being represented in our legislative process?”

“Listen to Black women more and stop fetishizing us. Maxine Waters is not your aunt.”

“We need to think about ‘What is the next conversation? What am I going to do when I leave ThinkFest? Who am I going to talk to next? What am I going to share?’”

“Support Black and Brown people, tell people to seek out diverse writers, diverse audiences, diverse artists – to make sure unheard people are finally heard.”