Black Liberation seems to be getting more difficult to define as the days through the New Civil Rights Movement continue on and more and more Black people face publicized oppression with no justice in sight. And then on a bright and breezy July day in San Francisco, libations were poured, DJ Lady Ryan threw down one of the craziest mixes I’ve ever heard, and the good vibes were in full effect as the Black Love Festival brought power in another form.
“The Black dollar stays in the community for only six hours” said Etecia Brown, one of the organizers of the Black Love Festival. Etecia, China Pharr, and Leigh Davenport have been organizing in the Bay Area throughout this year and realized it was time to organize in a way that wasn’t so draining and would also bring more young people into the conversation. What started as a BBQ grew into an afternoon centered on artistic and economic power for those involved.
“It’s beautiful to see so many people coming together for this,” said Kei, a vendor representing DeepDown,” and to share our art and not feel like I have to try to cater to a certain audience to make money, we can express it how we want and know it will be received with love.” Gabrielle who was also with DeepDown went on to describe how the environment felts safe and very empowering.
The event was live in every sense of the word; some double-dutched, members of the Afrika Town community shared about their community garden, KolourConscious shared their products from Black-owned businesses, Malik Senefuru engaged in a live painting, there was a live band, live singing, live rapping. Black culture was thriving in a safe space and in full-effect.
Stacey Monique, a creative that sells her handmade jewelry said she felt the love and the energy was just right at the Festival. “I hope people walk away with a better feeling about Blackness,” she said, “The creativity that people have, the ingenuity that we have, everybody here is a little bit different in terms of what they do the vendors the artists and the musicians have been really great.”
For decades, Black people in America have been positioned to make something out of nothing and having the strength that comes with Black history is what made the Black Love Festival possible.
“We really wanted to have a Black-centered space so that everyone can be involved and benefitting from this day,” said Etecia Brown, “Our goal is to create long term community change something that’s sustainable…that starts with community organizing and having conversations with each other us building with each other.”
“We think that black people celebrating being Black and taking up space and loving each other and the community is an act of resistance,” China Pharr said, “We are born with this light inside of us so I feel like black people recognizing you don’t have to be brought down by these circumstances you can change them…we are bigger than this. I hope this will make Black people realize how amazing they really are.”
The Black Love Festival was a strong reminder that activism doesn’t only happen on the front lines. Black activism for the community and against oppression starts with the love and support we have for each other every day.