Tune in Saturday, June, 6, for a special Facebook Live town hall featuring Kandace Montgomery and Miski Noor, with Organizers with Black Visions Collective, Mary Hooks, director of Southerners on New Ground (S.O.N.G.), and more, to discuss the Movement for Black Lives’ Week of Action, moderated by Kirsten West Savali, ESSENCE executive producer.
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As U.S cities burn around us with fire and righteous rage, it is difficult not to recall that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I fear I am integrating my people into a burning house.” According to his longtime comrade, Harry Belafonte, King had grown to realize that the United States was morally bankrupt, unconcerned with the conditions that White supremacy had created for economically exploited and disenfranchised Black people. Black people, who, so continuously denied opportunity, would “perpetuate the anger and violence that tears the soul of this nation.”
That was between 1967 and 1968, not long before he was assassinated. Yet, here we still are, still demanding justice for people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and an all too long list of other Black victims of police brutality.
For these reasons and more, ESSENCE is partnering with the Movement for Black Lives to stand in solidarity with and amplify their Week of Action.
“The Black press plays a critical role in framing and amplifying the power building efforts of social movements,” Fresco Steez, digital strategist for Movement for Black Lives, says. “The collaboration between ESSENCE and Movement for Black Lives illustrates a powerful collaboration to educate, politicize and move people to take action to defend Black lives.”
The fight to defend Black lives is one on whose frontlines Black women, like those behind M4BL, continue to stand. As it has always been, we are the very lifeblood of our community’s fight for equality.
On May 20, Tamika Mallory made it plain in the now-viral clip of her speaking at a rally
“Don’t talk to us about looting,” Mallory said. “Y’all are the looters. America has looted Black people. America looted the Native Americans when they first came here, so looting is what you do. We learned it from you. We learned violence from you. The violence was what we learned from you. So if you want us to do better, then, damn it, you do better.”
Yes, this nation has been on fire for a long time. We’re talking about generational and structural inequities amassed and undergirded by genocide and theft—theft of Black lives, health, wealth, and time. And as COVID-19 continues its death march across this country, we are witnessing what happens to Black people who have been statistically been forced to the bottom when that bottom falls out of the lie that this nation tells about the depths of its character. We can follow the bones.
It is clear that sheltering-in-place won’t slow the spread of police and White supremacist brutality. They’re killing us on the streets and while we sleep. Masks won’t help; a Black person in a mask is more at risk of being targeted. Reaching for the hand sanitizer in your pocket could look like you’re reaching for a gun; that’s what they’ll say. Staying six feet behind someone walking in the same direction might lead to a 911 call. There’s nothing about being a target or (living) victim of police brutality that would ensure one can’t be victimized again. White supremacy is not the virus, but the host. What we’re witnessing now is inflammation.
A nation on fire.
But it shouldn’t take cities burning and lynchings in order for people to feel comfortable talking about how this system is not broken, but functioning exactly as intended. There are organizations actively thinking and working through how to dismantle it, and if any justice comes out of Minnesota or Kentucky or Georgia, it will be because of the People.
When the ashes settle and get swept away, we should keep in mind that the politicians and necropolitics endangering Black lives are still hard at work. And if our only choices are between a glorified White supremacist slum lord who looted his own charities (and, somehow, managed not to get shot) openly declaring war on Black citizens and the kind of liberals who oversee the violence when the city isn’t burning, we have to understand that there needs to be a better way forward.
To that end, ESSENCE stands behind the work of M4BL and the hundreds of organizations which make up the justice coalition.
M4BL’s demands are clear:
We demand the rights of protestors be respected.
We demand a divestment from police and investment in Black communities.
We demand immediate relief for our communities.
We demand community control.
We demand an end to the war on Black people.
Feminist scholar bell hooks taught us that the margin is not always a “site of deprivation… it is also the site of radical possibility, a space of resistance.” Black resistance, resilience, and radical Black love have always been the true nexus of our power and with organizations like Movement for Black Lives, we will win.
Click here to learn more.
And stay tuned as M4BL takes over our social media platforms this weekend.