As a Brooklyn born & raised activist and a first generation American of Jamaican ancestry I work every day to lift up the voices & experiences of those most effected by racial injustice and white supremacy.
After organizing the NMOS14 vigil in Philadelphia, I created the Ferguson Response tumblr to connect nationwide efforts supporting the important racial justice movement started in Ferguson, MO. Since then I have expanded the Ferguson Response Network to provide additional support for organizers working to create lasting social change through sustained civil disobedience, civic action and grassroots community work focused primarily on Black Women.
In 2016 I created Safety Pin Box a monthly subscription service for white people striving to be better allies in the fight for Black Liberation running operations for the company through is dissolution in 2018. The recently launched Resist Univ includes the upcoming #AlliesInAction Bootcamp taking place in North Carolina in March 2019.
Ferguson Response Network Projects include:
I speak nationally about connecting social media to social justice and facilitating movement building discussions. I specialize in facilitating workshops with organizations, groups and congregations who are working to dismantle white supremacy within their institutions, policies and procedures. I am also the Producer & Host of the Interracial Jawn Podcast. You can become a direct Patron of my work and access exclusive content here via Patreon!
Recent projects include:
Social Media Chair for the MLK D.A.R.E. Philadelphia March 2015
Coordinator for the Movement for Black Lives Convening 2015
Director of Digital Marketing & Promotions - Women's Freedom Conference
Social Media Lead - Justice League NYC
Chair - Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism Organizing Collective Board
Co-Founder & Creative Director - Safety Pin Box, LLC
“Proactive accountability is especially important for those of us who hold privilege(s) within marginalized communities. As a light-skinned, cis, het, able-bodied, financially stable Black Woman with a sizable social reach, it can be very easy to slip into a decision-making process that centers myself—after all, I am marginalized. But that slip becomes a cliff very quickly and it is easy to find ourselves having harmed the very people we claim to work on behalf of, with only ourselves to blame.”
Leslie Mac is more than a connector; she gets the organizing done with proven results.
“Revolution starts within. And never ends.”
Most know the great Leslie Mac from her ferociously educational and takedown threads on Twitter. Or her groundbreaking work with the Safety Pin Box initiative and subscription service, in response to the uselessness and inaction of white allies who simply thought to slap on a safety pin to alert marginalized people that they are friendly. Or her Twitter thread of carefully assembled and pieced-together testaments from Black women about how “activists” can be virulently predatory toward Black women and queer people in modern liberation movements.
But that’s the thing, though. Many know Leslie Mac the activist or know her work. But never her, the person.
She’s happy to set the record straight on that.
This weekend, GeekGirlCon will convene in Seattle. Two days of women coming together to celebrate and revel in their geeky passions in STEM, gaming, comics, literature, film, arts, cosplay, and more. Many conventions like this exist, but this is one of the few that centers women.
In spaces like these, racism can and often does rear its ugly head, making them into hostile spaces for people of color, especially Black participants. Leslie Mac, a self-described “activist, organizer, and dope Black woman,” and TaLynn Kel, a cosplayer of over thirteen years, plan to address this with their new workshop, “Allyship in Fandom”, calling for white people who consider themselves or aim to be “allies” to examine how they contribute to these harms, how to identify when they take place, and use their voice to stand up against them. I had the opportunity to have a conversation with these two talented women and get a sneak preview of what the workshop will entail and some insight on how it came to be.
Activist and public speaker Leslie Mac talks about the impact of gentrification in the place she calls home. Upscale retail chains replace mom-and-pop shops, rents creep up, old timers move out — gentrification is striking to a Brooklyn transplant, but to Leslie Mac, a Flatbush-born-and-raised activist of Jamaican heritage, the pace of change is disorienting.
A longtime activist who worked on issues like mass incarceration, bail reform, white supremacy and poverty, she founded the Ferguson Response Network in 2014. Mac also launched the subscription “Safety Pin Box” to help white people become better allies, and she is the lead organizer with Black Lives Matter of Unitarian Universalism.
Mac, who lives in North Carolina but still considers Flatbush her home, shared her insights on the rapid gentrification of Flatbush, the commodification of culture and what responsible change looks like.
Bette’s quote – specifically the part with “the n-word” – paraphrased a line of a controversial song written by the late John Lennon and Yoko Ono from their 1972 album, Some Time In New York City, per USA Today. Even five decades ago, hearing the former Beatles singer say the n-word in a song was controversial (and problematic.) It turns out that the line wasn’t even 100% original, as Leslie Mac pointed out. “The most irritating part of this Bette Midler shit is that she’s quoting Yoko who STOLE it from Zora Neale Hurston but not before ERASING Black from it.” She shared a screenshot of the Wikipedia article explaining how Zora Neale Hurtston’s 1937 novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, included a character who said something very, very similar. “I’m tired. Ya’ll need to do better.”
Equally alarming is the tone deaf message asking women, especially black women, to swap out their photo for a black square. As Leslie Mac publicly posted, “I’d like to invite you to think about the optics & impact of you asking a Black Woman to join a “female blackout” on social media. First of all, for the most part we are already invisible & ignored so the idea that we would take collective action that further diminishes our voices, even for a day... nope.”
What negotiating advice do you wish you had known in your 20s?
I think there is a tricky piece to negotiating as a black woman, right? Because our confidence is often misconstrued as arrogance and our enthusiasm is frequently positioned as anger. So we have to go into these conversations around negotiation with an understanding about how we're going to be read and what we can do to combat it.
Author Leslie Mac created a Twitterstorm of conversation when she created the #PayBlackWomen hashtag earlier this afternoon. The topic began trending nationwide, with many women joining the discussion with their own professional anecdotes and experiences.
Side with Love and Love Resists have partnered with BLUU for a long-term strategy on ending money bail, including creating a congregational toolkit that will be available soon, Mac said, adding, “The key to strategy is local organization, political education, and developing policy intervention that ensure reforms to money bail.”
Leslie Mac, a writer and activist, who is also part of the StepUpScholastic campaign wrote a Twitter thread on the book and wrote, “this company has unfettered and unprecedented access to our children via their book fairs.”
The Hollywood Reporter - 2/27/2018 - Why 'A Wrinkle in Time' Is the Movie Girls of Color Need - by Jamie Broadnax
Lean The F*ck Out Podcast - Episode 27: Owning Your Social Justice Values - An interview with activist, organizer and entrepreneur Leslie Mac
Co-creator of Safety Pin Box, the two developed the monthly subscription box service to provide tools that help Whites become better allies in the struggle for racial equality. A portion of the monies goes toward supporting Black female activists and their agendas.
VICE News Tonight on HBO - Ep 50: December 23, 2016
Two women have created a subscription service aimed at channeling post-election white guilt into something constructive.
Safety Pin Box, a new monthly subscription service, has a lofty goal - to help white people learn how to root out racism while simultaneously paying black activists for their time.
Project co-founder Leslie Mac talks about creating 'effective, measurable allyship.'
The hashtag #WhereIsLavishReynolds appears to have been started by Leslie Mac, who describes herself as founder of the the Ferguson Response Network and who has a record of activism in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The hashtag, which expresses the suspicion that Reynolds and her daughter would not be safe while in police custody, was rapidly taken up. Many used it not only to protest about the treatment of the mother and daughter but to also express outrage at Castile's shooting and other police killings.
In February 2015, Leslie Mac, founder of Ferguson Response Network and a member of the Organizing Collective of Black Lives UU, urged UU congregations to make our support visible by displaying Black Lives Matter Banners.
This particular decision happened after many voices were raised opposing the book, led by Black Lives Matter activist Leslie Mac.
The backlash against the text was sparked by a critical review by Indiana librarian Edith Campbell that went viral on social media thanks to the efforts of Washington, D.C.–based nonprofit Teaching for Change. The organization shared the review on its Facebook page on Jan. 13. A subsequent protest petition on Change.org garnered 2,738 signatures, and Black Lives Matter activist Leslie Mac created the hashtag.
Scholastic recently released a new children’s book called “A Birthday Cake for George Washington” that tells the story of Hercules, one of George Washington’s slaves, as he makes a cake for his master’s birthday. Soon after its release, a Twitter user (@LeslieMac) began tweeting in dismay about the book’s portrayal of slavery as a benevolent institution, using the hashtag #SlaverywithaSmile to criticize the portrayal of the main character’s seeming contentment and the description of slaves as “servants.”
The story went viral. Leslie Mac of the National #Ferguson Response Network created the hashtag #slaverywithasmile and within 24 hours articles appeared in the Atlanta Black Star, The Root, and Fusion.
Leslie Mac, a UU activist who runs the Ferguson Response Network and the Black Lives Matter Visibility Campaign, believes articulating that “black lives matter” doesn’t contradict the faith’s principle of every person’s inherent worth and dignity, but in fact helps Unitarian Universalists live out that belief.
“We are focused on humanizing black people and fighting issues that affect black life at disproportionate levels,” Mac said.
Leslie Mac, a black UU from Cherry Hill, N.J., and one of the leading organizers of the Ferguson National Response Network, led the effort, which provided 2,100 lunches or snacks from three sites in the city.
Mac challenged notions that the Black Lives Matter movement consists of black people aimlessly, and violently, protesting. “It is incorrect to think that while people are protesting police violence there isn’t a lot of work being done to address the many issues that plague the black community,” Butler MacFadyen said. “Protests all week in Baltimore were without incident, and Saturday was no different, until the protests entered white populated areas where the protesters were screamed at with insults.”
Some of the leaders who helped lead Monday's "MLK DARE" march include , Rev. Greg Holston, POWER; Paul Winston Cange, PURP; Raphael Curtis, Fight for 15 (min.wage); Leslie Mac, Ferguson Response Network; Diane Isser, 15 Now; Tamara Anderson, Caucus for Working Educators; Bishop Dwayne Royster, POWER; and Rev. Mark Tyler, POWER. All of these leaders are featured on the podcast.
Leslie Mac an organizer of the event, shared with the crowd:
“I’m often asked ‘What is so special about Ferguson?’” she says. “The answer is nothing, and everything. Nothing because the murder of Mike Brown is a carbon copy of so many black lives at the hands of law enforcement, but it was everything, because this loss awakened the Ferguson protesters. That’s how this movement was born. We were waiting for a new example of sustained civil disobedience. And today we declare, that until black lives matter, in this city, business as usual is over.”
“Here in Philadelphia and from shore to shore, a black child is likely to be poorer, go to worse-funded schools, and more likely to go to jail than his white brother,” said Leslie Mac, founder of the Ferguson National Response Network. “We are called to follow in King’s footsteps this year as we march in his legacy, and in the legacy of thousands of other men and women of his generation who stood up and said enough is enough.”
The Ferguson National Response Network, which has organized a number of protests since African American teenager Michael Brown was killed in August, posted over a dozen protest locations around the country, including Orlando, Pittsburgh, Reno, Buffalo, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta and more. The Network was created by Philadelphia resident Leslie Mac, it works with the Ferguson Action group.
The Ferguson National Response Network, an organization that has galvanized demonstrators in the aftermath of the August shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown, organized a student walkout today at 12:01 p.m. CST (the approximate time of Brown’s death on August 9 in Ferguson, Missouri). The organization was started by Philadelphia resident Leslie Mac, together with the Ferguson Action group, and has organized dozens of protests across the country following the grand jury decision not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson.
More than 100 U.S. cities have staged Ferguson-related protests since the grand jury said it would not indict Wilson for shooting Brown, who was unarmed. Each day, protest activity in various cities is listed on a website created by Leslie Mac, 38, an activist from Philadelphia.
Mac said she started the Ferguson National Response Network after participating in a conference call St. Louis pastors earlier this month. The local clergy didn’t have a strategy for coordinating protest activity on a national scale, she said.
The site has become a hub for people outside of Missouri who want to participate in Ferguson-related protests. Groups have shut down mass transit in California, blocked highways in Washington and shut down shopping malls in greater St. Louis. Protesters in more than 40 cities plan to walk out of schools and businesses today, according the website.
Leslie Mac, who runs a website that aggregates Ferguson-related protests nationwide, told Bloomberg more are planned in shopping locations in more than 40 cities.
“A life is lost, no matter what a prosecutor announced tonight,” said Leslie Mac, a South Jersey resident who founded Ferguson National Response Network, a group that organized protests in several dozen cities. “We need to end this culture of fear and suffering for all families.”
The Ferguson National Response Network is maintaining an online list of dozens of protests that were planned for Tuesday night. Protesters have organized around the hashtag #IndictAmerica on Twitter and Facebook to spread information on protest plans.
Leslie Mac, a Philadelphia activist who founded the Ferguson National Response Network website, said activists across the country are linking Brown’s death and the killings of other unarmed black males.
“This is a movement that, while it may have started in Ferguson, has expanded far wider than that,” she said. “And these issues of police interaction in minority communities resonate in other communities as well.”
She highlighted deaths including those of Rice and Eric Garner, an unarmed black man killed by New York police officers in July during an arrest on Staten Island.
Ferguson protesters continue to hone in on this national network of activists, concerned citizens, and allies across the country through establishing the Ferguson National Response Network.
The Tumblr page is a collaborative venture that allows activists to submit a proposal for demonstrations in their location if there is not already one listed in that area. Currently there are a total of over 60 different Ferguson response gatherings scheduled for either the day of or day after the announcement of the Darren Wilson indictment.
Cherry Hill resident Leslie Mac, an account executive at a Philadelphia-area IT training company, is responsible for organizing Philly’s branch of the nationwide vigil, which is scheduled to take place at LOVE Park at 16th Street and JFK Boulevard on the designated date and time, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m. (EST). At 7:20 p.m., each vigil is expected to have a unified moment of silence.
MacFadyen is a founding member of the Unitarian Universal Legislative Ministry of New Jersey’s “Ending the New Jim Crow Task Force,” aimed at ending mass incarceration with state legislation. She learned of the hashtag and ensuing vigils from Jones’ Twitter account.
“I CAN do something to bring attention to this important issue in our country and in our cities,” MacFadyen said in an email interview. Using the vigil, she wants to gather similarly minded individuals and contact information in hopes to “continue work in this area.”