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Boots on the Ground Against Racism: Book anthology pre-release launch, voters registration drive held

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Sep 25, 2020

Anthology contributor Rebecca Davis speaks about her experience growing up as a Black person in a white family, in Morgan's Grove Park on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — On Saturday afternoon, community members gathered together in a socially-distanced group under Morgan’s Grove Park’s pavilion, for the pre-release launch of the anthology, “Why I Stand: Boots on the Ground Against Racism.”

The launch featured a number of the anthology’s contributors speaking about their experiences with discrimination. Following the launch, a voters registration drive was held, to encourage participation in the General Election in November.

According to Boots on the Ground Against Racism organizer and anthology contributor Teresa Holmes, of Shepherdstown, the event was one step towards achieving equal treatment for discriminated people.

“There are many who remain silent, as Blacks share their life experiences and frustrations of the injustices they experience day-by-day,” Teresa said, mentioning her experience as a Black woman has shown her the need for white people to become allies against racism. “Some choose to lend nothing to the much-needed discussions and subsequent resolutions that are necessary to effect positive change. [However], the problem of inequality was not created by Blacks, and will not be solved by Blacks alone.”

Because of her experience as an author, Teresa recognized the power storytelling has, in helping readers understand another person’s experience. This understanding, according to Teresa, was the inspiration for the anthology and book pre-release launch event.

Community members sit, socially distanced from one another, in the Morgan's Grove Park pavilion on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

“Hearing the stories of all who have been effected by social injustices, whether directly or indirectly, is what is needed to give a greater understanding about who we all are, and what it will take to get on a collective path that will lead to Equalityland!” Teresa said. “‘Why I Stand’ is comprised of those exact stories — those who have committed themselves to stand boots on the ground, raise their voices in solidarity and help pave a path to equality and justice.”

The anthology was edited by Shepherd University student Ally Wharton, and includes chapters written by Teresa, Tanya Adams, Asa “Lovechild” Arnold, Laura Beard, Pamela Brannon, Akeya Carter, Kimberly Caylor-White, Angela Coley, Rebecca Davis, Layne Diehl, Renee Ferguson, Mahayana Garcia, Danielle Gavin, Faith Holmes, Angel Holmes, Donna Joy, Tiffany Redman, Dawn Rix and Shannon Robinson.

Garcia, Davis, Diehl, Joy, Teresa and Faith Holmes all spoke, during the pre-release launch. After Teresa opened the event, Davis took center stage.

“I was raised in a white family. I have one brother that looks like me, and the other one’s white,” Davis said, mentioning her white parents joined the civil rights movement in the 1960s. “What I never lacked in my family was love. My parents, however, didn’t teach us how to deal with racism.

“They definitely did not teach us, as I’ve tried to teach my son, my daughter and eventually my grandchildren, how to talk to police, so we could make it away alive,” Davis said, mentioning she had to learn these lessons on her own. “They didn’t know to teach us that.”

Diehl’s experience with discrimination was related to the legacy of recently-deceased Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The rulings Ginsberg helped pass gave women the freedom of choice, regarding their health.

“In reflecting on Justice Ginsburg’s life, I’ve seen the impact it has made in really just a few short years,” Diehl said, mentioning Ginsberg’s legacy became even more apparent to her, after learning about her mother’s experience with discrimination. “My mom tells me that when she went to have a hysterectomy, she couldn’t have it without my father’s signature. It wasn’t permitted. And she was very sick. I can’t imagine what would have happened to her, if she hadn’t been able to have that surgery!”

Copies of the anthology can be ordered, by visiting https://www.facebook.com/standupagainstinjustices/. Proceeds from the anthology’s sale, as well as sale of Boots on the Ground Against Racism Project T-shirts, will be donated to organizations fighting discrimination. The project, which sponsored the anthology’s production, will release a second book in March, according to Teresa.