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Why Testify at the International Decade for People of African Descent

Black Women's Blueprint Gives Testimony at the Regional Meeting of Europe, North America, and Central Asia for the International Decade for People of African Descent | U.N. Geneva, Switzerland 23-24 Nov. 2017

Greetings. My name is Farah Tanis and I am the Executive Director of Black Women’s Blueprint, a national feminist and women’s human rights organization anchored in New York, U.S.A. Thank you for the opportunity to address the UN today at this Regional Meeting for the International Decade for People of African Descent.

Black Women’s Blueprint issued the first ever report to the UN CERD Committee to address gendered forms of racism, rape and sexual assault against Black women in the U.S. in 2014 and gave testimony to the UN Committee Against Torture here in Geneva in 2015, on the impact of police sexual misconduct against Black women and girls in the U.S.

A full analysis and an explicit recognition of gender, sexuality, and in particular the systematic rape and forced reproductive labor imposed on Black women’s bodies under chattel slavery for the purpose of profit; and the ensuing intergenerational trauma and consequences, must be integral to the goals and the work of the Decade.

Gender and the legacy of the slave trade and racist/misogynist ideologies about women of African descent are still ingrained in United State policy and state practices.

An overall shorter life expectancy, as well as the fact that Black women comprise a third and half of intimate partner homicides while we are just 13% of the U.S. population, higher infant and maternal mortality, threats to access to health care and in particular the elimination of reproductive health care in parts of the U.S.; the undeniable, cyclical relationship between violence against women (including trans identified women) and poverty, continues to jeopardize U.S. Black women’s economic wellbeing, undermines their pursuit of education, decreasing their earning potential and stability throughout the course of their lives; often leading to homelessness, health and mental health issues. I also highlight the sexual abuse to prison pipeline faced by Black girls, the higher rates of incarcerations for Black women, and the prevalence of law enforcement sexual abuse against Black women in the U.S.

White supremacy and misogyny in America undermines Black women’s very survival every day.

The Decade must recognize, document, honor and celebrate women of African Descent’s mobilizing power, their survivorship and their demands. Contextualize the experiences of Black women in the U.S. within the larger international narrative about the impact of oppressive structures of power on all people of African descent.


  • Make special reference to gender-rights within the Decade.

  • We call on the U.S. to recognize the 2016, national Truth and Reconciliation Commission on sexual assault convened by Black Women in the United States.

  • We call on the U.S. to issue an apology for the centuries of state sanctioned rape, forced labor, forced reproduction, sterilization and other abuses of Black women’s bodies.

  • End gender-bias policing practices and the over-criminalization of Black girls which is tantamount to enslavement.

  • We call on the U.S. to maintain temporary protected status for immigrants from Haiti and implement a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants living in the United States from various African nations, the Caribbean, and Latin America.

Policies explicitly guaranteeing the human rights of vulnerable communities can save lives; Never forget the special case of women and girls.

March for Black Women Urges 10,000 Letters to Black Leaders

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