To be Black and a woman is to hold two identities that have historically faced oppression. That’s why a local organization is doing all it can to strengthen and empower women in the community. DON’T SLEEP is hosting its first ever SOS (Saving our Sisters) Weekend, a celebration that aims to shed light on the struggles and accomplishments of Black and Brown women. We spoke with RaeVen Ridgell with DON’T SLEEP to learn more about the event.
Recorder: This is your first time doing SOS Weekend. What inspired the event?
Ridgell: A few months ago Kenneka Jenkins was found in a freezer, a full 36 hours after her mother reported her missing. We already wanted to do a ‘Say Her Name’ event in March, but when that happened her mother requested a call of action. We said, ‘Let’s have an event.’ Not only can they donate, but they can participate in an event that is beneficial to women of color. (We collaborated) with an undergraduate chapter of Alpha Psi Alpha. We made Black men our accountability partners and gave out pamphlets and homemade pepper spray. The Alphas collaborated again to host Toxic Masculinity, and we had a packed room at IUPUI. We thought, let’s make it a weekend, a habit, a lifestyle. That’s where this came from.
Can you tell me more about the artists you will have performing?
We will have three days of events. The first event, Say Her Name, will look at women — Black and Brown — that we have lost due to violence. We are working on a keynote speaker to deliver a piece about Black women. Saturday night we will be celebrating the women and femmes of color who have used art. We are remembering these women and how their art progressed our community. The third event is self-care and self-defense.
What do you hope people will take away from the experience?
We are watching the world recognize how capable Black and Brown women and femmes are. We are witnessing women who have been unrecognized leading in the polls and doing what we’ve always known them to do: save their communities. We witnessed Black women shifting the vote in Alabama, and we watched them build a movement in its entirety known as Black Lives Matter. We have watched our Brown women deliver themselves into the hands of the law because either they or people like them are Dreamers who are facing deportation and other terrible acts invoked by racism and prejudice. We are watching our trans women stand tall in the face of bigotry, sparking change in legislation and beyond. It is our hope that those who come to this weekend will recognize that we have always been here, unafraid to fight. We as a culture and as a community have got to do better in saving our sisters. These individuals become superhuman, they become lionesses when it comes time to protect their own. Now it is time for their own to protect, acknowledge and support them.
March 9: Say Her Name,
6:30-8:30 p.m. at Central Library
March 10: The Renaissance:
What the Water Gave Me, 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Central Library
March 11: Saving Our Selves,
6:30-8:30 p.m. at IUPUI
For more information visit