Black women in this country are dying like young black men are dying. Everybody's saying, "Save the black man." I work on the street. I'm watching the sisters' side, too, but in a different way. I watch sisters get four and five abortions by the time they're 16. I watch sisters carry guns. I've seen women gangs. I was on the street doing all of that negative stuff, too.
It can't be that we're only fighting for the black man. We have to fight for black people--men, women, and children--because we are all dying.
The sisters coming forward and saying that was very powerful. We made ourselves a priority, which black women and Latina women, a lot of times, don't do. In the women's caucus, we got to do the talking, we got to show our fears, we got to cry. I thought that should have happened in the general summit.
The men are crying the same tears that we're crying, they're feeling the pain that we're feeling. We know what's happening to the brothers. They also needed that time to share and cry, but because of the way men socialize, we didn't even deal with that. This hurt me, but we know it's there.
Also, the older sisters were really helpful in saying, Yes, the struggle is ours; yes, we have been involved and not ignored. It was powerful to know the strength of women, and that our strength is relevant. Sometimes in our communities that's downplayed. So if you see these women out in the forefront, it's important.
Najma Nazy'at was a community organizer working with youth in Boston when this interview appeared. Jim Wallis spoke with her after the Gang Summit.