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We call Maine the Capital of Polite White Supremacy. Racism permeates every institution on a foundational level. Invisible to the blissfully ignorant majority. My work, and the work of those I build with, is to respond to all the ways oppressions manifest in this state and to envision and move towards our collective liberation. Because no one is free until we are all free. Black activism in Maine is unique, innovative and paradoxical. Our resilience, our creativity and our magic has the power to move the immovable. Our small numbers demand great effort, careful strategy, sacrifice and personal risk. After every action, we are under siege. Not only do we receive threats from neo-Nazis but “nice” liberals and progressives also treat us with inexcusable violence. Call the police on us, try to get us fired from our jobs…all for continuing our lineage of civil disobedience and radical truth. Our tone and tactics offend. Here, respectability poisons the waters. But, it is our duty to fight for our freedom. My activism, my everything, is for my child and black futures. So deep is my love for my people. It is the antidote for every oppression, every poison. What exists here among organizers, healers, artists, and teachers in my circle—most of whom are queer, Muslim, femme or otherwise marginalized—is a nurturing sustenance which births the revolution we need. Awake! The struggle continues and the stakes are especially high now. See you in the streets. Our streets.

Marena organized the Call To Action in Deering Oaks, where people gathered and handed out zines, with the help of her daughter Imani, to passing traffic. The zines contained information about how gentrification is effecting black and brown people in Portland, primarily Kennedy Park.

Before joining the ACLU of Maine in January 2017, Marena Blanchard organized with black and immigrant youth in Maine and also served as an early childhood educator. She lives with her daughter, Imani, in Portland.

Maine Women Magazine strives to tell the stories of all Maine women. Sharing those voices and telling those stories both informs and connects us. Do you have a story you’d like to share? Email letters@mainewomenmagazine.com.

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