Aisha White is a longtime activist and educator. If you’ve ever driven past the corners of Penn and Highland Avenue in Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood on a Saturday afternoon, perhaps you’ve seen her and other members of Black Voices for Peace protesting the Middle East wars.
What has Pittsburgh sounded like, every Saturday for the last six years, at that corner? Something like the Black Voices for Peace Protest Tone. Since all the ringtones in this project are tiny documentaries that amplify the sounds of this region, I thought Aisha’s concept would make an excellent tone. In it, you’ll hear ambient street-traffic, some supportive horn-honking and the Saturday protesters chant: “Obama says yes, we say no/the Middle East Wars have got to go!”
Black Voices for Peace (BVFP) has been protesting at that corner, from 1-2pm every Saturday, “without missing a day–even that snow-storm Saturday we had earlier this year,” said Aisha. She requested that Locally Toned turn a BVFP protest-chant into a ringtone in order “to document the organization’s work. We have protests and forums, but we’re not in the position to document what we’re doing.” In other words, for BVFP members, organizing to protest is the priority. “And,” she added, “wouldn’t it be great for your phone to ring and for somebody to hear our chant, instead of some obscene Top 40 rap?”
“A lot of what I do for our chapter here in Pittsburgh is design flyers and post cards,” said Aisha. “There have been chapters of the organization in Oakland (California), St. Louis, D.C. and Pittsburgh. Black Voices for Peace was founded by the nationally known activist Damu Smith (who died of cancer 4 years ago).”
In the founder’s words, “Black Voices for Peace was founded to organize a progressive Black community response to the tragic events of 9/11, 2001. And more specifically to respond to what we consider the ill-conceived response of the Bush administration to those tragic events.” Aisha added that, “BVFP believes the policies of the current administration are also ill conceived.”
Each Saturday, members of Black Voices for Peace (Gail Austin, Aisha White, Mensah Wali, Fred Logan, Arthur Young, Mike Matambanadzo and Carlos Brossard) stand at the busy cross-streets, holding signs and waving in solidarity when passersby honk their horns. Their presence has inspired other local protesters–Edith Bell, Joe Hughes, Jonathan B. Robison and Marvin Bellin, MD to join on a regular basis. Others such as John May and Dale Ross also join from time to time. When the weekly protest concludes, the protesters share important announcements and then begin their protest chant.
Thanks to Aisha White, and to all the members of Black Voices for Peace, along with other Saturday protesters, for collaborating on the BVFP Protest tone!