It started in Ferguson; protests around the U.S. that have spread internationally with support from places in Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East, all coalescing in a cry of solidarity dignifying black lives with a single phrase: Black Lives Matter. There appears to be a movement on the horizon, spurred by protests from world citizens tired of injustice and zealous to use their bodies as obstructions in spaces to resist, show disdain and defy the authority of an increasingly militarized police force. What is happening in the U.S. is important, but a closer eye on what will make the protests more than a social media trending topic, reinforcement of mainstream media polemic debates and an opportunistic soaring ROI for fame, fortune and prestige among celebs, organizations and self-proclaimed experts of systemic change is what this budding movement needs.
Before we get to solutions, we have to present ourselves with a number of truths: no one person has the whole solution, no one group is entirely responsible for where we are as a society, and not all members of our American society experience the nuances of the other in ways that can bond us more than distinguish us. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that the conversation can be neither with just black and brown folks, white folks, poor folks, affluent folks, civilian folk, law enforcement folks, young folks, elder folks, men folk and women folk, but a combination of all, and then some. Black lives in this country is both race-specific and non-specific, gender nuanced and value-specific to our country priorities.
Exactly what is the movement that we see now happening across the country? It is important for organizers on the ground and spectators deciding how to hone their energies to be critical without destabilizing, humiliating and/or mocking the earnest efforts of many that are taking the time to let their voices weigh in on what is ultimately a rally cry for the country to shift priorities. Movements shift, priorities shift, and organic energy is helpful. Yet, misguided organic energy can be inflated to focusing on superficial things, which leads us into what needs to shift in the movement of energy summed up in a pretty rockin' slogan, mission and vision all in one: Black Lives Matter.
To educate the masses politically does not mean, cannot mean, making a political speech. What it means is to try, relentlessly and passionately, to teach the masses that everything depends on them; that if we stagnate it is their responsibility, and that if we go forward it is due to them too, that there is no such thing as a demiurge, that there is no famous man who will take the responsibility for everything, but that the demiurge is the people themselves and the magic hands are finally only the hands of the people. ― Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth
Thinking the movement forward, the call for the country to shift priorities is clear, but we need to lean toward a country that shifts its core values. We cannot glorify guns, military and paramilitary structures and then cry out when those structures intended to hurt, force submission, enforce the will and whim of the government and kill with impunity do what it does best. We cannot cry injustice at black boys and men that get killed and/or victimized by police in excessive force circumstances and not cry out loudly for the black girls and women that were victimized and died also at the hands of police. We cannot cry injustice about the way black men are treated without ever acknowledging that the ones often strategizing the movements, picking up the slack left by disappeared black men and birthing the next generations of world citizens are black women. We cannot show rage and demand corrective action at the way black and brown children are being institutionalized from school to prison with police interventions in-between and not demand the same correction of parents that break their children's spirit in an ongoing seasoning process of name calling, beating into obedience, silencing into submission and ignoring them into illiteracy and social ineptitude.
It starts at home; parenting minority children in ways that affirm the validity of their voice to exist. It starts with community demonstrating respect across ages, class and genders. The core values of this movement of dignity calls for radical, audacious truth spoken about ideals of gendered violence, family dysfunction, sexual violence, sexism, incest, and intra-racial discrimination via the black community, within all levels of society and break through the pain of such betrayals to teach and move this movement toward lasting change.
This movement of dignity calls for systematic, deliberate actions of raising political consciousness, practical daily civic duty, and strategic local visions of impact to be led by the most vulnerable people within the communities that seek change. It means every person living an unflinching life worthy of the dignity this movement is asking others to uphold, and it means starting from those that are aware and spanning the conversation and accountability outward.
There is a level of onus that includes everyone on each level of society, no matter the identities they hold. The trouble is, for black and brown folks to be addressed with the level of onus needed to be a part of the solution, the language that would speak truth to power is already largely co-opted by opposition that makes the sole onus for the consequences of oppression the black community's responsibility. As nasty and sordid of a job it is to dissect the use of language that is used for belittling minority communities to extract portions to resist systemic injustice, it is fitting to turn the mirror inward as we also point outward to others and ask are we our keeper, killer or a bit of both?