I am 234

Unity. Straight solidarity was the mission of this weekend’s "Rock Your Crown" rally for the 234 Nigerian girls who were abducted on April 14—specifically, to urge the Nigerian government (U.S., U.N., and anyone else who can help) to act in bringing these girls back home. To briefly catch you all up, an Islamic extremist terrorist group by the name of Boko Haram kidnapped a group of 234 Nigerian girls (and counting) from their school and recent reports claimed that some of them have been sold as brides to the terrorists for no more than $12. What’s even more disturbing is that the Nigerian government has taken no immediate action in trying to find a solution to bring these girls home.

Though missing for weeks, most people had no idea this incident actually happened (myself included). The Donald Sterling fiasco seemed to have overshadowed it, but thank the good Lord word finally spread, and on Thursday May 1st with just a Facebook post, rally organizer Gugu Lethu created the "Rock Your Crown" event held in Union Square. In just two days, word spread like wildfire and on Saturday May 3, hundreds of us gathered wearing head wraps and geles in solidarity.

Black, white, yellow, green, girl, guy—it didn’t matter the color or gender of the person in protest. Together we chanted, “I am 234,” “Bring Back Our Girls,” and “Nigeria, the World is Watching.” I was moved beyond words. One of the most touching moments for me was when a professor from Brooklyn College began calling out

“Girl number one!”

Crowd responds: “Present!”

“Girl number two”

“Present”

“Girl number three!”

“Present!”

She called the numbers until we reached number “234.” Something about repeating that and fully taking into account the actual number of abducted girls brought tears to my eyes. And as I wiped the trail running down my face, my eyes met those of the other men and women who had felt the same anger and sadness and pain I felt. It was such a heartfelt and touching moment.

I personally do not know anyone directly affected by this tragic disregard for female freedom, but I feel like these girls are my sisters—like I have ties to them and a member of my family has been taken away. Because at the end of the day, this is not only a Nigerian issue, but a world issue. As a daughter of 2 Haitian parents, I have heardd the struggles of my family members living among corrupt government officials. In these parts of the world, girls are abducted every day and government officials are paid handsomely to sit silently and let the tragedies continue. Well not this time. This time people are speaking out and urging the world to open their eyes and protest these hateful crimes against humanity until these girls come home.

The rally ended in prayer, as everything should, and as we bowed our heads and closed our eyes, we still had hope in our hearts. I went to the rally alone, but I didn’t feel alone. I was among my brothers and sisters.

I will continue to pray for the safe return of these girls and their suffering families.

**Thought: These girls were kidnapped (not coincidentally) on 4/14/14 which only leads me to believe that this was a more organized operation than we think. With that being said, the rescue mission may also be more complex than anticipated. I hope that when action is taken, it will be taken at the right time, when Boko Haram’s guard is down and/or weakened and the military moves with full force.

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