On Oct. 3, more than 300 people gathered at the Northview Heights Bridge to begin the second Annual Women’s Walk for Peace. By the time they reached their destination in West Park, two miles later, their numbers had doubled.
“No one is killing us, but us. These are our children. You have mothers whose children are in all kinds of trouble and they’re running around talking about, ‘my baby didn’t do that.’ Your baby did that and some and your baby did it because you let your baby do it.”
Meeting them head on in the park later that day was national radio personality Bev Smith with a tough message. She told the women to take responsibility for the violence in their community and to take a stand against it.
“No one is killing us, but us. These are our children,” Smith said. “You have mothers whose children are in all kinds of trouble and they’re running around talking about, ‘my baby didn’t do that.’ Your baby did that and some and your baby did it because you let your baby do it.”
Smith also put blame on the men in these women’s lives, but charged the women with the responsibility of staying away from men who do not positively impact their lives.
“Black women, I know that I’m meddling, but why are you settling. On your head he’s beating and on you he’s cheating,” Smith said. “Black women, Black women to your man you go crawling then he balls and brawls and fusses and you show this in front of your sons and your daughters and you wonder why they don’t give you any respect, because you don’t respect yourself.”
Smith said the women need to be less focused on their personal materialistic desires and more focused on raising their children. She also said they need to stop hating one another and instead support one another.
|RAISE YOUR KIDS—Bev Smith drives home her message to the women in West Park.
“It’s our fault women; we are the first line with our children,” Smith said. “We need to sign a pact to stop being jealous and take our children back because if you don’t get them now, if you don’t get this generation now, you can forget it.”
Throughout her speech, Smith highlighted successes of African-Americans in history and urged the women to teach their children about Black history.
“It is the tradition of Black women to save people. We have saved our people from the day we came over here in chains,” Smith said. “You need to feel proud about yourselves again and not let anyone take your pride away from you. It’s as if you’re ashamed of who you are. Rise up my people.”
While some cheered after Smith’s remarks, other members of the audience did not take the message easily.
“Some of you have nasty looks on your face because I’m talking about you and I’m not apologizing for talking about you because it’s you who’ve made it unsafe for us,” Smith said. “Who are you trying to impress? No one is impressed with you.”
The event, organized by the North Side Coalition for Fair Housing, was an effort to speak out against both domestic and street violence. Members of the organization said domestic violence is a key factor in the perpetuation of street violence.
“The same kind of grief and oppression when someone loses a family member is the same as what victims of domestic violence experience,” Executive Director Ronnell Guy said. “We are often left with families that can’t function from either one of those experiences.”
Guy said she was happy to see so many women of different races and religious groups. Together, she said they have the power to turn the tide of violence in their communities.
“We need to work together to educate young women of the perils of street life,” Guy said. “I think although men perpetuate the violence, women are left to pick up the pieces.”