Sevgi Fernandez is the first “Shadow Warrior” and is the epitome of the type leader Enigma In Black will recognize each month. You may not have heard of her yet but she and her not for profit organization, Together We Stand are already making a difference and growing daily. Throughout this article, I will use her own words which serve better than my own.
“My name is Sevgi Fernandez, I’m a biracial woman and have spent the better part of the last two decades working as a Coach and Consultant specializing in cross-cultural/interracial families, blended families and Corporate/Executive diversity training. I’d appreciate your adding your voices to the discussions on my new blog. I’m hoping to create a forum where everyone can speak on the issues of racism and racial bias. I hope to challenge people of ALL races, not only to examine the issues we are facing but also to examine themselves and what they individually are bringing to the table.”
Her mother is white, her father black, a former Black Panther. In some respects that shouldn’t matter but her mixed-race heritage is very much a part of who she is. Her father was part of patrols that protected the homes of black families in Boston that moved into white neighborhoods and had their homes firebombed or crosses burned in their yards. Sevgi witnessed another type of racism that her mother faced for marrying a black man. Disapproval and hatred from both races. When her parents separated, she was raised primarily by her mother and grandmother who gave her a new name in lieu of the one her father had given her, Sevgi, which means love. With her mother, she was raised to be white though Carmel skinned and called “Carrie.” When with her father, she was Sevgi again and black. Out of this confusion came a focus and determination to fight racism… together.
“Together We Stand” started as a Facebook group in the summer of 2015 and has now grown to a national non-profit with 2,300+ members. An all-volunteer effort, she along with her board members and a growing following began getting involved in cases others passed by. She initiated petitions and calls to action. One of the first cases they got involved with was the death of Marcus (Marc) Anthony Merritt Sr, in Leonville, LA. Working with his mother who wanted answers and justice when police ruled his death a suicide. There were no crime scene photos taken, no toxicology reports, no autopsy. The coroner never even saw the body. After deluging authorities with E-mails and calls, they eventually got the body exhumed and an autopsy performed. The report has been completed but Louisiana won’t release the findings, only a woefully incomplete report. The work and the pressure continue. Sevgi conducted a podcast January 4, 2017, toward that effort. A case file will be presented to the Justice Department on January 13, 2017.
They’re working with a family in Chicago where a young girl, Madisyn Wordlow, was handcuffed and kept in a school basement for two hours for allegedly stealing something that was hers, to begin with. She’s working towards getting charges brought against the security guard and getting therapy for the child. Sevgi Fernandez says and works with some of the names that no one is saying. Last July they organized nationwide vigils spurred by the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castille.
In Virginia, 15-year-old Ryan Turk was suspended from school and charged with larceny for taking a 65 cent carton of milk he was entitled to free. The school stood by its School Resource Officer. Sevgi stood by Ryan and his mother!
“I often feel overwhelmed and wonder if what I’m doing/trying to do is really going to make a difference?”
Yes, Sevgi you are making a difference. Together We Stand is growing now at a pace of a few people a day and is getting involved with efforts all over the country. They’ve teamed with Black Lives Matter and the American Indian Movement in support of various causes. 2017 will see their first Youth Social Justice Center formed in Northern California and they’re about to kick off what will hopefully be a major fundraising effort, “It Stops With Me!”
“We have people from ALL corners of the earth. Differing religions, races, backgrounds. Yet we are ALL here to bring about a revolution. To FINALLY shift this culture of racism and oppression which has defined our lives. If we focus ourselves and our intentions, on action, on solutions, we are UNSTOPPABLE!”
There is so much more to say about Sevgi and Together We Stand and no room to say it. She’s married, a mother of three sons that she wants to be able to grow up in a more optimistic world. I haven’t talked about the work she does with Diverse World Coaching which she founded. I haven’t mentioned she’s a consultant with ARMC Global, helping corporations get it together. Together We Stand sent packages to protesters at Standing Rock. She’s helped feed the hungry. Fought corruption in the San Francisco Police Department. She just keeps going and going!
Check out the Together We Stand Nationbuilder website. Review their Newsletter, check out and follow their Blog, sign the Petitions, see the work! They’re looking for people to volunteer in various capacities and you can also donate. Become aware of what this Shadow Warrior is doing. Time to end the divisiveness threatening to engulf this nation and stand… together!
Each month Enigma In Black will feature a new Shadow Warrior. Don’t miss a single one by scrolling down and clicking “Follow”. Please share so that we can bring these Warriors and their work out of the shadows! Would love to hear your suggestions for future Warriors which you can leave in the comments section.
Featured Photo: Togetherwestand.nationbuilder.com