"If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these women together ought to be able to turn it back, and get it right side up again!" – 'Ain't I A Woman,' Sojourner Truth
No other words could be more appropriate to reflect the significance of a new women's movement sweeping Los Angeles, and soon the nation, than those of Sojourner Truth. Women today are banning together to form the "Respect Me" Movement, demanding respect and to no longer be subjected to the obscene and derogatory images and wording too often expressed in our society.
"Until we respect ourselves, no one will respect us," says Brenda Marsh-Mitchell, organizer of the "Respect Me" Movement and president of Mothers In Action. "We must look and act respectable at all times."
The movement comes on the heels of the "shock jock" Don Imus' offensive comments of the women of Rutger's basketball team and his subsequent firing. Women of Los Angeles are banning together and calling upon all women across the nation to join in the movement.
Already Marsh-Mitchell has on board Glenda Gill of Rainbow Push Coalition, Charisse Bremond Weaver of Brotherhood Crusade, Attorney Shawn Chapman Holley, Bobbi Anderson of the New Frontier Democratic Club, Angela Reddick of the Los Angeles Community College District, Pat Means of Turning Point Communications, Lois Buckman of the Regaletts, Bobbie Parks, wife of Councilman Bernard Parks, and Marva Smith Battle-bey of 100 Black Women.
Says Smith-Battlebay, "This is a collective effort where African American women can reverse the trend of the demeaning and degrading language used to marginalize our women."
Marsh-Mitchell says is inviting all races and generations, and has called upon Niele Anderson, religion editor of the Los Angeles Sentinel, to attract that younger generation.
Anderson says she wanted to get involved after a recent incident she experienced herself, when she was called a "ni**er slut" by a White male while driving in Beverly Hills.
She says, "I believe this will be a movement and not an event. It will be the beginning of dialogue that will empower women and enlighten men on the negative effects of their obscene and derogatory language, and ultimately provoke change for the future."
The women of the "Respect Me" movement were brought together after a recent press conference held at the Sentinel offices where publisher Danny Bakewell Sr. and Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed their concerns as men of the scarring effects of the objectification of women, particularly African American women.
Said Bakewell, "We want to acknowledge to the world that, while the Imus incident has been duly dealt with, and we believe his fate has been appropriately etched in the laws of history. We believe it must be the beginning and not the end. We also understand that it is time for our introspection; it is time for the family to look at itself.
"We've been talking about this issue for years, but Imus was the straw that broke the camel's back. …When we saw those young women – highly educated, highly articulate, beautiful, Black and White – we recognized that it was time not only to take a stand with Imus but to take a stand period in this county about how women will be represented particularly on the airwaves."
Jackson commented, "We want to move from degradation, the desegregation of airwaves, and to decency. We're asking women around the nation to fight for their voices to be heard.
"The Imus case exposes the cultural isolation of people of color and women in the media. It is both feminism and racism, that's why we're urging women around the country to form an organization…[because] women are the ones who were the object of the attack."
With the support of male leaders such as Bakewell and Jackson, and through the banning together of women across the nation the "Respect Me" Movement intends to take on, particularly, the music and film industries.
Says Marsh-Mitchell, "We may picket record companies. We may even picket movies. But we will certainly write letters asking corporations to stop selling anything that disrespects us."
She adds, "If you are mad, join us. We want all women to be involved."
Members the "Respect Me" Movement have already convened during a meeting late Tuesday night to plan for a press conference to be held next Wednesday, April 25.
For more information on the press conference or to join in the "Respect Me" Movement, contact Brenda Marsh-Mitchell at 323-299-3800 or firstname.lastname@example.org.