Professor Zakiya Luna of the University of California Santa Barbara speaks about the Sister Song organization during the Say Their Names discussion on Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.

Monday, Oct. 12, over 130 people tuned in to the “Say Their Names: Centering Black Women Activists in the Struggle for Justice'' discussion hosted by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Women’s and Gender Studies Program via Zoom. The event focused on Black women activists in the struggle for justice. 

The event featured Jeanette Jones, associate professor of history and ethnic studies at UNL, along with Zakiya Luna, assistant professor of sociology at the University of California Santa Barbara. 

To start the discussion, Jones focused on the struggles women of color, queer women and transgender women experience in their battles for social justice. 

“Some individuals claiming to be advocates for Black lives and supporters of Black Lives Matter have marginalized the deaths of Black women, cisgender women and trans[gender] women,” Jones said in her presentation. 

Jones talked about movements such as #SayHerName and Black Lives Matter. Mentioning names such as Breonna Taylor, Eleanor Bumpurs and Layleen Polanco, Jones discussed how even though the BLM movement was not originally only supporting men, it seems that is the direction it has taken, as the deaths of women of color are often not included.

“As Black women activists have argued, we need to rally behind our women just as we have done with our men,” Jones said. 

She talked about the discrimination Black women experience on a day-to-day basis, not only in their daily life, but also in their experiences with law enforcement. 

“Black women are seen as a threat because of their race and gender,” Jones said. “It is 2020, we must be better. Black lives matter. Say her name.” 

After Jones’s presentation on Black women’s battle for social justice, Luna shed light on the fight of reproductive rights that women of color have to experience. She mentioned her book “Reproductive Rights as Human Rights: Women of Color and the Fight for Reproductive Justice” which dives deeper into the topics she mentioned throughout her presentation. 

To help the audience understand what reproductive justice means, she shared the definition from Sister Song, a reproductive justice organization, “Rights to not have children, rights to have children and rights to parent our children.” Luna said she has a Song connection to organizations like Sister Song, as she also advocates for reproductive rights. 

She talked about how organizations like Sister Song need more recognition than what they receive, instead of being pushed aside and forgotten about. Even when stories are published involving Sister Song, it never receives proper recognition, she said.

“We’re in 2020 … How is it that certain stories, perspectives and bodies are somehow still ignored?” Luna said. 

Ending with a question panel, a handful of questions were brought up and answered by Luna and Jones. Some of the questions were from other professors and teachers wishing to expand their knowledge on the issues. 

Luna and Jones discussed how to connect and support all of the movements happening. According to Luna, there are many webinars, forums and Feminist Friday’s happening. 

Feminist Fridays are discussions and safe places held by other universities throughout the United States. Because of the pandemic, everything is online, but there are still ways to support, especially locally. 

“There are ways to virtually organize,” Jones said. “They are still just as powerful.”