Why Black Lives Matter— Beyond the Hashtag

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2020 has exposed two pandemics, viral and racial.  Both are disproportionately taking the lives of Black Americans. For four hundred years now, there have been two starkly different Americas. It is very literally Black, and White.  In that time, the boiling points have exposed minimal progress, and deep pain. Since June 1, 2020 there have been 123 Brown and Black Americans murdered by police. The death  that has dominated global media is the murder/ modern day lynching of George Floyd of Minneapolis. While George Floyd’s murder was a meda sensation, he is one of 123 in the past six weeks. Six weeks. Perhaps now, you’re gasping and thinking the aforementioned number is inflated. It is not. (Again, two starkly different Americas) 

If you are a White American this statistic may be jarring, but it’s a norm that BIPOC have been  living with for hundreds of years. Where the talk in non BIPOC homes may be about the birds and the bees, the talk in a BIPOC home is one of compliant instruction; to just get home alive if you’re stopped by police. 

This is evident in the thousands of  personal testimonies of BIPOC men and women, even more so of the civil rights leaders from the 60’s and 70’s. Just this past Friday, the world mourns the passing of two civil rights giants, Representative John Lewis, and Reverend CT Vivian. These were  men that faced death with every peaceful protest. They walked with, and advised Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and lived through the violence of America’s segregation. These men were massive agents of change.  They witnessed the loss of many comrades to the common state sanctioned murder of Black bodies, and simultatneously experienced the blessing of their legacies being manifest as they lived on. Today, we feel their absence immensely, but we are now charged with the duty to advance the work of civil/racial justice torch they left for Americans to carry.

 It’s clear that racial privilege is rampant  during this pandemic, and it is frightening to witness. Many of our neighbors are in a situation where the home may not be safe, or school may be the only place where a child was receiving consistent food access. We can’t simply blame it on the ability to “make better life choices”,  when we live in a nation that refuses to put adequate resources to the enduring concerns that keep our citizens bound in poverty and traumatic cycles. (That inherently impact Black and Brown Americans)

The “leaders” around the nation that have negated justice for these public murders,(as of today the murderers of Breonna Taylor still have yet to be arrested, and its been over 105 days),  and at the same time  have poured their efforts into banning abortion access, going toe-to-toe with the court systems, are draining pivotal resources in this time of dire need. Bringing to light how regularly those backdoor calls for favors could have been utilized to increase capacity for unemployment sites, provide for food banks, child welfare/ family reunification, and increase mental health hotlines, rather than burdening an individual for the decisions regarding their reproductive rights. 

From the disregard for decarceration (Where predominantly people of color- specifically black men and women- are imprisoned for non-violent crimes, or still in jail because the simply are unable to post bail) to the essential* worker taskforce (*Let’s be real, essential in this case is merely capitalistic code for sacrificial. We aren’t going to front as if the current income these companies provide match the hazard that these men and women are working through) that is dominated by women, (again specifically black women who are not in a place to protest showing up or tolerate exposure as they are in a multi-generational home, or are sole providers for their children), inequities still fall heavily on communities of color, this hits harder for the Black community.  

This pandemic has also further exposed the hate for women in leadership as racial slurs to the current lawsuit that the Mayor of Atlanta, Keisha Lance-Bottoms, has been enduring for working to keep her city safe. To Dr. Armen Henderson who is on the frontlines with COVID-19 and was arrested in front of his home for loading supplies to take to his hospital. Our very own  Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been an innovator in opting for necessary  precautions that aren’t convenient for leisure, yet necessary to avoid higher death tolls. 

By now you have seen numerous statements from multiple companies about Black Life mattering. Often, these statements have been an address on the lack of proximity many have to the Black American experience. Many people are finding out they have been anything from oblivious to complicit within the active racist systems that have always been at work in our nation. What does doing the work of anti-racism look like? Where does one begin? How do those of us that identify as “progressive” actively work toward the equity of life for every American? Specifically, the liberation and healing of Black Americans? 

COVID-19 feels heavy and traumatic  simply because it is. It has been made it clear that there must be a direct and immediate change in the systems of healthcare, reproductive justice, and labor. While we know that day won’t be today, we certainly can start to act now, and for our future generations. 

The intersectional battlefronts  for human rights intrinsically collides with racial justice and liberation for Black life. In the next few weeks we will dive into:

  1. The intersections of justice and the Black leaders that were trailblazers for these movements
  2. Historical examples from victimization to legal acknowledgement and progress: Black Lives always mattered, and mattering is the minimum. 
  3. What it means to fight racism (how truly simple it is, and the accountability it requires of all involved) 
  4. Resources on anti-racism, and  reveal how to do personal and community work toward the equity of life the Black community has been working against since the undocumented uprisings of slaved Africans centuries ago. 

Hopefully you join this journey to begin (or dive deeper)  into expanding the necessary individual and collective awareness and education to impact the change that’s vital to  actualize the progress we need now.