We the undersigned, condemn the deplorable actions and words of the current Mayor Byron Brown and his supporters against India Walton. In America’s long history of disenfranchising, terrorizing, and dehumanizing Black people and Black women, racist power structures have often employed coded language meant to question the competency, intelligence, womanhood, and respectability of Black women.
We call out Brown’s refusal to say India Walton’s name in public remarks and in press conferences. We condemn his use of rhetoric meant to pose Walton as a “radical socialist” as the dog whistle that it is, meant to court conservatives and pander to racists.
We, the undersigned, read his supporters’ interchangeable use of the words “Welfare Queen,” “ghetto,” and “single-mother” when describing Walton as what it is, a way of criminalizing Black women’s bodies, reproductive choices, and the geographies we transverse.
We believe it is our duty and right to speak out when the most basic forms of human decency and respect are not being met toward Black women. We will not let this moment pass without calling out the racism, sexism, misogyny, and white supremacist capitalist patriarchy at play in the 2021 Buffalo Mayoral race even when it derives from a Black, male, democratic candidate(hello intersectionality). For Buffalo at present is a microcosm of historical and national oppression against Black women. And across the nation, Black women are watching what is happening in Buffalo.
We have a long history of being called out of our names. But just as long is our history of fighting for the right to name ourselves and determine our destiny. Like India Walton, we have wide-ranging experiences, and a roving path has led us to this present moment. We will not deny our history, our experiences, and our worth in this world.
We affirm the work of India Walton on behalf of Black communities.
We affirm the journey that has bought her to this place, to love and struggle on behalf of the folk.
Like her, we are mothers, educators, activists, domestic abuse survivors, working-class, working poor, respectable, ratchet, God-fearing, struggling, and rising, always rising Black women, “committed to survival and wholeness of entire people, male and female…”
We affirm all those who like us “love(s) music. Loves dance. Loves the moon. Loves the Spirit. Loves love and food and roundness. Loves struggle. Loves the Folk. Loves herself. Regardless.”
We are a force to be reckoned with and we stand in solidarity with India Walton in demanding that you, Mayor Byron Brown, call her by her name.
-Dr. Erika D. Gault and over 300 Men and Women
This open letter is also the text of an on-line petition drive started by Dr. Gault. To sign on go to Change.org and look up Erika Gault. The petition will be used to garner support and put pressure on Mayor Byron Brown to shift the racist and sexist language and fear mongering approaches used in the 2021 Mayoral election cycle. The petition has now been signed by over 300 men and women concerned about the global racist and misogynistic rhetoric used by Brown in this election.
**Dr. Erika D. Gault is an Assistant Professor at The University of Arizona in the Africana Studies Department, and Ph.D. Graduate from the University at Buffalo and former Buffalo resident.
- image with this post – painting by artist Danielle Saeva found on change.org . you can find the artist on social media as @daniellesaevaart