Ma’at Sargeant: We Rarely See Protests Happening When Black Women Are Killed

Ma’at Sargeant is a 19-year-old activist for Black lives and racial equality.

On August 9, 2016, Ma’at Sargeant organized a protest in memory of Mike Brown in Tallahassee, Florida. This protest was featured on the Meetups section of BM. Today, Ma’at tells us what led her to organize this march, how it went and what her plans are with regards to fighting for the rights of all Black people.
Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?
Ma’at Sargeant
Well, I’m 19. I’m originally from St. Thomas, I moved to Tallahassee in 3rd grade. I attended Leon High School and I go to school at American University now.
When did you decide to become an activist and why?
Ma’at Sargeant
I would say I got more politically active during my senior year in high school. I became more conscious or “woke” because of personal experiences, as well as from events like the Baltimore riots and the riots in Ferguson. However, I really started participating in activism last year. It was my first year in college. American University is an extremely politically active campus, so I was able to learn, discuss, and participate in activism more.
And are there any old school activists that inspire you?
Ma’at Sargeant
I am inspired by Malcolm X, although it might sound cliche. I find him inspiring because he overcame a difficult childhood and became a man that impacted history significantly. He’s been extremely misrepresented in the media. If you really look at what he was about, he was a remarkable leader and man.
What do you think is the main issue with these protests and what is your mission?
Ma’at Sargeant
There’s a lot of misrepresentation of the Black Lives Matter movement. People tend to mobilize around just fighting police injustice for Black men, but you rarely see protests really start happening when Black women are killed by police or when Black trans or our queer community is dealing with police brutality. So I think that people need to start focusing on women, the queer community, as well as the trans community, rather than just Black men. We need to fight for justice for all Black people and not just Black men.
I’m sure you do support the Black Lives Matter movement. But you also do Tallahassee Stands Against Racism. Are there any similarities or differences in their ideologies?
Ma’at Sargeant
Well, with Tallahassee Stands Against Racism I’m not really that active in it. I just got added to it when I started planning the protests as a way of trying to get word out. I don’t really know much about it to speak on it.
Could you please tell me a little about the rally you organized on August 9 in memory of Mike Brown?
Ma’at Sargeant
Yeah. So I did it initially because after Philando and Alton’s deaths I wasn’t seeing a lot of things happening. I wasn’t seeing people organizing anything but I didn’t want to do it like a quick throw together one because I don’t have connections enough here in Tallahassee to just throw one together in a day. So I decided to organize one on August 9 because it was the anniversary of Mike Brown and it gave me more time to plan and get word out as well as come up with a direction and a purpose behind the march. I started a petition that requested Tallahassee police department to implement 5 new policies.

  1. All police brutality cases will undergo independent investigations and prosecutions.
  2. All officers wear body cameras.
  3. Ban police officers from taking cell phone and other recording devices without a person’s consent or warrant.
  4. Give people the right to sue police departments if they take or destroy these devices.
  5. Ban using ticket or arrests quotes to evaluate the performance of police officers.

So, while I was planning the protest, I was also getting people to sign the petition.
Did you organize this all on your own or did you have a team of people who helped you?
Ma’at Sargeant
It was mostly me. Two of my friends would help me pass out fliers, but in terms of organizing it was mainly me. Someone let me borrow a microphone and things like that but in terms of organizing it was just me.
Did you have any special speakers for the event?
Ma’at Sargeant
Yeah, we had someone who’s running for the commissioner’s chair, his name is Dr. Bruce Stowell. He spoke at the march.
And how many people attended this rally?
Ma’at Sargeant
I would say 30 because the weather was so bad. On Facebook 107 wanted to go and like 259 were interested, but because of the weather, there was a thunder storm that day, only 30 people came out.
How was the atmosphere? Was it peaceful and without any incidents?
Ma’at Sargeant
Yeah, it was peaceful.
Well, I asked because these days many people are worried about the kind of protests going on and they’re afraid to get arrested.
Ma’at Sargeant
Yeah, that’s definitely a complaint. I think in terms of Tallahassee, our police department is not a Baltimore, it’s not a Chicago, so our police department was really nice about it. They gave us their numbers just in case we had any problems, if like a white supremacist group came in, they escorted us down specific roads, I mean, the police department was very nice to us. I’m not going to lie about it. I think that people should be more concerned about arrests in more volatile cities like Baltimore, Chicago, L.A., those types of areas, you’re going to have some arrests and some pushbacks from the police department. But in Tallahassee there wasn’t any pushback.
People are also getting disappointed in the protests and they’ve stopped participating. They think that well, they’ve done a few protests and that should be enough. However, we can also see that not much has changed. What do you think? How should people protest in order for any change to happen?
Ma’at Sargeant
In order to see more change, there has to be more action than just protests. People have to start running for office, they have to get involved in the system. And I know a lot of people disagree with that. But for me it’s either we infiltrate the current system, or we create our own. It doesn’t necessarily have be our own government, or nation. It can start by creating and supporting our own businesses. And then we can take it from there. It’s more than just about protests. We have to really work on changing the laws on paper. Although protests do help with national conversation, we need to find a way to ensure follow through. We need to stop supporting people who do not support us. Although I understand this election is different from most because of Trump, I find it baffling how “ride or die” some black people are for the Clintons. Some people even call Bill the “first black president” jokingly. Our community needs to stop supporting people just because they seem to be supportive of the black community. If they are adding to our systematic oppression, while smiling in our faces, they do not deserve our vote, support or trust. We need to stop settling and find a way to demand follow through from politicians who claim to be for us.
That’s certainly true. But would you say that the protests are working?
Ma’at Sargeant
I would say so because, I mean, the protests are what sparked the national conversation and they’re what is making people’s voices relevant. There are so many activists who now have jobs. Kwame Rose and Deray both started by taking the streets and protesting. So not only are these protests making a national conversation, but they’re also making these people who are becoming journalists and politicians, relevant in a sense. These protest are finding talented and intelligent people, who may not have been where they are today without those protests. I’ll say the protests are effective because it’s making people talk about it and without them there would have been no discussion about race at all in this recent presidential elections.
We work with many organizers and activists and some of them have had problems with the police. Some were arrested and some were charged. Have you personally faced any threats from the police due to what you do?
Ma’at Sargeant
No, I haven’t because I’m new. I don’t think I’m relevant enough to be getting threats from police or anything. Maybe once I get more involved and I get out there more, I would start having more pushbacks but as at now, I’m new to this so not really. But I do know people who have had interactions with the police for their activism and things like that.
Have you personally been harassed before?
Ma’at Sargeant
By police, no. But, just because I haven’t experienced it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.
Thanks so much for talking to us today. Do you have any parting words for our readers? Is there anything you’d like to say to them to move them to join the protest movement?
Ma’at Sargeant
The main thing is – in terms of pushbacks – is the civil rights movement got just as much pushback as Black Lives Matter is now. So don’t be afraid to get your voice out because you are on the right side of history. And also don’t just fight for Black men. I mean, Black women, Black queer community, Black trans community, they’re also part of the movement. Our black lgbtqia+ community started the movement so we really have to support all Black people, not just Black men.

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