Why These Bay Area Women Protested Topless

A group of topless women took to one of San Francisco's busiest streets yesterday, using their bodies to draw attention to an important issue: black women and girls who face gender discrimination, injustice, and violence at the hands of law officials — but whose situations aren’t always part of the national conversation.

The protests for #SayHerName took place in S.F. and in 16 other U.S. cities, ranging from New Orleans to Chicago. Only in San Francisco were the women, who lined Market Street, topless. The activists, who were part of the Oakland-based organization BlackOUT Collective, donned the painted names of victims on their bare chests as they marched down the busy S.F. street during rush hour.

The women told BuzzFeed News that they wanted to tap South African protest traditions in which women typically show skin during political and social gatherings. They also wanted to make a statement on how black women’s bodies are sexualized in the media, but ignored if they are used for the purpose of peace and justice.

They also mentioned that many of the women who chose to go topless were survivors of violence, and that they did this in an effort to "reclaim their bodies in public space." 

The #SayHerName movement was spawned after the African American Policy Forum’s policy report was released. It outlined the real and surprising ways that black women suffer injustice and violence from law officials. For more on the movement, and to see the captivating images caught that day, check out #SayHerName on social media
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