On Location: March for Racial Justice/Black Women March in Washington DC

K.G. Bethlehem

Photo by K.G. Bethlehem / Some’n Unique Magazine, LLC

On September 30, 2017, the March for Racial Justice started at Lincoln Park in the northeast section of Washington DC. The start time for this demonstration was at noon, but serendipitously it was joined by the March for Black Women that had started at 10 am. The venue was filled with people from many different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, genders, ages, and social/religious backgrounds. Signs ranging from “Black Lives Matter” to “White Silence Equals Violence” and “Protect Immigration” were touted in a sea of progressive expressions.

The excitement was rising as advocates like Ana Rondon, an organizer and immigration activist from Many Languages One Voice; Valerie Castile, mother of Philando Castile, founder of Philando Castile Relief Foundation; and Steven Douglass, Washington DC pastor, activist, and representative for Terrence Sterling began speaking. Their powerful voices influenced the energy of the crowd as chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “No how, No way, No Racist Police or KKK” echoed throughout the congregation. The crowd had grown to close a thousand voices, and with the addition of the March for Black Women it grew even larger.

The congregation left from Lincoln Park and headed toward the Capitol. The organizers of both marches led them; two groups chanting and singing to make their voices, frustrations, concerns, and solutions heard. Conscious entertainment groups such as; Rising Hearts Drum Circle, The Juney Band, and Allison Bucket Drum Brigade, were positioned through the crowd to continue the flow of energy.

K.G. Bethlehem At March For Racial Justice

At one point in the march, the Washington DC police escort had to relinquish its position as they crossed into the jurisdiction of the Federal Capitol Police. Tensions rose as a commander of the Capitol Police shouted through the intercom from his patrol SUV for the congregation to get on the sidewalk.  This task was impossible since there were over a thousand people participating in the march. Most tried to follow instructions, others did not. The ones who did pointed out that there wasn’t enough room on the sidewalk to accommodate such a request, and that the streets belonged to the taxpayers. This back and forth between the commander and the activists went on for a few minutes until the commander stopped demanding such a challenging, if not impossible, directive. It seemed from the protesters’ point of view that it was an attempt to cause friction and ultimately a confrontation between them and law enforcement. Thankfully there was no confrontation, and the march proceeded.

When the protesters reached the front of Trump International Hotel, the march halted for a short time. The crowd booed and expressed their displeasure toward the current president by razzing his family business. People laid down in the streets, some took a knee, and mostly all chanted, “People of Color Matter!” It was a surreal moment, especially when a man, presumably a patron of the hotel, walked out in front and started to take pictures. Maybe it was simply that he wanted to capture a moment in history, but who actually knows why he was photographing that day, that moment, at that location.

The march wrapped up at the National Mall. The crowd rested, but was attentive to the speeches that continued. Protesters were talking with different representatives of community organizations that were present. They discussed progressive ideas such as fair living wages, Medicare for all/single payer healthcare, ending mass incarceration, ending violence against women, ending unfair drug laws, immigration rights, protecting women’s healthcare, free college education, and many others. The hope for the promotion and education about these types of ideas and issues is that it would not only help with those particular issues, but that they would ultimately help end systemic racial injustice and social/economical oppression.


You’ll Know It When You See It

Lakesha Mathis

City Walk. 2016. Lakesha Mathis.

I pulled into a parking lot to see a young man frantically rummaging through his vehicle. Wildly searching! Throwing things everywhere all the while yelling at someone on the telephone.

As I got closer I noticed he had a green rubber band tied around his upper forearm. At first I paid it no attention until I realized exactly what was going on.

The young man had obviously lost something. Suddenly it became clear that he’d lost his best frienemy, his passion stealer, his life drain; he’d lost the one thing that was taking everything from him; he’d lost his fix. His drug.

The Dream.JPG
the Dream. 2016. Lakesha Mathis

In that moment I saw the America that promised him safe passage slip out of his grasp. This young man, America’s future was chasing with great ferocious hunger his own death.

Drug abuse doesn’t have a face nor race. This witness only scratches the surface of a much larger issue. What is happening to America’s youth over and over again? Drug addiction didn’t begin its attack with Generation-X. It seems that something in life leaves us vulnerable to the sexy illusion drugs over and again. The reasons are numerous and varied. But without a doubt it’s present.

Scene of the Crime 04072016.jpg
Scene of the Crime Hometown USA. 2016. Lakesha Mathis

Somehow, this young man I witnessed in a has come to terms with his worthlessness. Which is false. He is worthwhile. We all are. We are all here to meet our purpose. A purpose that is tied to every other purpose.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports through the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 23.5 million persons aged 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol abuse problem in 2009 (NIDA, 2016).

According to the NIDA iIllicit drug use in the United States is continuing to increase.In 2013, an estimated 24.6 million Americans aged 12 or older reporting using illegal drug in the past month. The good news is, there is help. If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction please contact a service provider on the list below.


Help For Drug & Alcohol Abuse


Data Sources

National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-statistics. Last Accessed 4/7/2016.

National Institute on Drug Abuse. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/nationwide-trends. Last Accessed 4/7/2016.

For complete findings, visit:www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUHresultsPDFWHTML2013/Web/NSDUHresults2013.htm#3.1.2

For more information about drug use among adolescents, visit:www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/high-school-youth-trends




Slavery Without The Whip

Shonda Pulliam


In light of the recent Ben Carson statement about Blacks being Immigrants; perhaps it’ll be best used to teach our children about our history prior to slavery.  Additionally, they could be taught how that same ignorance has transformed from the whip to our conversations, mindsets, and refusal to change the cognitive pattern of learning that we have inherited.

Artist/Photographer Unk. Title Unk. http://www.forumkredytowe.info. Mar. 27th, 2017

The first example of this would be marriage. The view about the union of marriage is very much still hidden in today’s society. Were jumping brooms all over again.  Our black men are being taken from us by the prison systems and the streets at rapid pace.  Single, Black mothers are left to defend and provide for themselves; just the way slavery wanted.  Blacks have not let go of that mentality, and it shows up in how some  speak about each other, “Men ain’t shit” or “Women are bitches”  We, as Blacks, need to change this if we are to escape the new-age form of slavery. We need to build true families again; the man/husband as the head, the woman/wife as the helper and nurturer, and the offspring/children, as the love the two created.

Secondly, we need to gather our children and teach them their culture prior to slavery. Teach them that fathers do belong in their homes, and mothers are not meant to raise children alone.  Without the head (father) you get “independent” girls who may not learn the value of provision and protection. Our sons get a triple whammy because they don’t learn how to protect, provide, or have discipline; all the things that come from the man… remember; like-father-like-son! So we raise the next generation of potential fathers and mothers; to never learn the value of giving those things to a family and the community around them.  When you can’t work together to raise a family then, you won’t work together to participate in your neighborhood, grow your community, or effectively change in the world.

Artist/Photographer Unk. Title Unk. http://www.justpo.st. Mar. 27th, 2017

Finally, the system is not our enemy. We have bought into the system and can’t buy our way out.  Oh wait, yes we can… we just won’t support each other.  We have the ability to grow our own foods, make our own goods and services, build our own communities and live in harmony.  What happened to the corner store?  The neighbor who would watch out for all the neighborhood kids or eating dinner as a family?  In other words, can we work together to create that perfect circle between family, neighborhood, community, and beyond?  Can we change the slave mentality and learn how to just be us? Be free?  Be new? Become more than what our ancestors were whipped and broken to being.

We have to change our mindsets which will in turn change our conversations. Passing down self-worth, possessing the ability to think beyond your current situations, and knowing your ability to create can be just as important as table manners, politeness, and morals. Coming together as a collective community can ensure that we do both.