Black Lives Matter

Rebuilding the Black Liberation Movement


Table of Content

Black Lives Matter
Black Lives Matter Under Attack
All Lives Matter Myth
White Lives Matter: More than a Counter Protest


Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter (BLM) is an international activist movement with the aim to fight systemic racism against African Americans. BLM began in July, 2013 when the spread of the hashtag #blacklivesmatter started to flourish on social media, spreading awareness on these embedded problems in American culture and politics. Three friends: Alicia Garza, Patrice Cullors, and Opal Tometti ignited the hashtag and the movement after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot and killed by police officer George Zimmerman. Zimmerman was acquitted of murder. However, Trayvon Martin was posthumously put on trial for his own death. In 2014, BLM began to hit the streets with protests and further acts of civil unrest were sparked in Ferguson, Missouri, and NYC following the horrendous murders of Michael Brown and Eric Garner- both unarmed black men who were killed by white police officers.

BLM is a decentralized organization which has expanded to target issues that face the African American community, opening up chapters in the U.S. and abroad sharing a core focus on black self-determination. BLM has gained momentum with the increased awareness of systemic racism in American culture and from the widely shared footage and reporting of these events and acts, specifically police brutality against African American men. The movement is inclusive, seeks intersectionality and victory for racial justice where the potential of the black community is further realized through increased awareness (and destruction) of the social barriers that continue to thwart equality and opportunity.

Stay Woke: The Black Lives Matter Movement Documentary

Black Lives Matters Policy Demands

1. End the War on Black People

We demand an end to the war against Black people. Since this country’s inception there have been named and unnamed wars on our communities. We demand an end to the criminalization, incarceration, and killing of our people.

2. Reparations
We demand reparations for past and continuing harms. The government, responsible corporations and other institutions that have profited off of the harm they have inflicted on Black people — from colonialism to slavery through food and housing redlining, mass incarceration, and surveillance — must repair the harm done.

3. Invest-divest
We demand investments in the education, health and safety of Black people, instead of investments in the criminalizing, caging, and harming of Black people. We want investments in Black communities, determined by Black communities, and divestment from exploitative forces including prisons, fossil fuels, police, surveillance and exploitative corporations.

4. Economic Justice
We demand economic justice for all and a reconstruction of the economy to ensure Black communities have collective ownership, not merely access.

5. Community Control
We demand a world where those most impacted in our communities control the laws, institutions, and policies that are meant to serve us – from our schools to our local budgets, economies, police departments, and our land – while recognizing that the rights and histories of our Indigenous family must also be respected.

6. Political Power
We demand independent Black political power and Black self-determination in all areas of society. We envision a remaking of the current U.S. political system in order to create a real democracy where Black people and all marginalized people can effectively exercise full political power.

How a Hashtag Defined a Movement

New York Times:  Black Lives Matter Is Democracy in Action

“The suggestion that the organizations that have emerged from the Black Lives Matter protests are somehow lacking because they have rejected the old style of leadership misses what makes this movement most powerful: its cultivation of skilled local organizers who take up many issues beyond police violence.

This is radical democracy in action. The Movement for Black Lives, a coalition that includes the Black Lives Matter Global Network and other groups, coalesced in response to high-profile police shootings of black people from 2014 to 2016. It is reinvigorating the 21st-century racial-justice movement, and by extension the anti-racist left, by offering a better model for social movements.

The idea behind that model is that when people on the ground make decisions, articulate problems and come up with answers, the results are more likely to meet real needs. And that’s more sustainable in the long run: People are better prepared to carry out solutions they themselves created, instead of ones handed down by national leaders unfamiliar with realities in local communities. Such local work allows people to take ownership of the political struggles that affect their lives…

…Local organizers are not passive followers. They are leading creative campaigns in major cities. For example, the Black Youth Project 100, along with other local groups, is working to overturn the New York City Housing Authority’s “permanent exclusion” policy, under which people convicted of a crime can be barred from living in or visiting public housing.

Seshat Mack, a student at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and a leader of the Black Youth Project 100’s New York chapter, explained to me that the campaign, called Housing Over Monitoring and Eviction, has relied heavily on local leadership — in particular, black New Yorkers who live in public housing.

In Chicago, one of the most segregated cities in the country, an “expanded sanctuary” campaign has brought together black people and Latino immigrants to demand an end to punitive practices like the city’s gang database. Activists have argued that the criteria for inclusion is vague and that people often don’t know they’re on the list. A lead organizer in that campaign, Maxx Boykin, underscores the importance of “building trust between people and organizations,” which can happen only on the local level.

The fight to end cash bail was bolstered by Mama’s Bail Out Day, a campaign that is the brainchild of the Atlanta organizer Mary Hooks, a director of Southerners on New Ground, a queer social-justice organization. The organizers raised over $1 million to bail out more than 100 low-income black women on Mother’s Day this year. The Movement for Black Lives umbrella group oversaw the effort by pulling in local bail-reform groups.

One of the most intense efforts within the Movement for Black Lives has been to develop an electoral strategy that can be applied locally. Recently, activists started a project to lay the groundwork for creating local black political power. According to Kayla Reed, a St. Louis organizer who helped develop the project, the goal is to transfer the clarity and radical vision brought to the protest lines to electoral campaigns. The organizers of the project are drawing lessons from the successful progressive mayoral campaigns of Chokwe Lumumba in Jackson, Miss., and Randall Woodfin in Birmingham, Ala., as well as the narrow defeat of Tishaura O. Jones in St. Louis.

Despite progress on many fronts, there is still work to do. The movement does need an easier way for people to get involved and more transparent collective decision-making, as well as space for broader ideological and policy debates.

The Movement for Black Lives is distinctive because it defers to the local wisdom of its members and affiliates, rather than trying to dictate from above. In fact, the local organizers have insisted upon it. This democratic inflection will pay off if they persevere. Brick by brick, relationship by relationship, decision by decision, the edifices of resistance are being built. The national organizations are the mortar between the bricks. That fortified space will be a necessary training ground and refuge for the political battles that lay ahead, as white supremacists inside and outside of our government seek to undermine racial and economic justice.”

4 Black Lives Matter Myths Debunked | Decoded | MTV News

 

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Black Lives Matter Under Attack

Washington Post: The Republicans who want to legalize running over protesters

“Last weekend in Charlottesville, a driver mowed down peaceful protesters and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. The act was reminiscent of recent terrorist attacks across Europe committed in the name of the Islamic State, which has urged followers to use vehicles to kill enemies.

As far as we know, the alleged killer in Charlottesville didn’t get instructions from the Islamic State. As far as we know, he didn’t even receive marching orders from any of the neo-Nazi groups with which he sympathized. But he also didn’t need to turn to either of these factions for inspiration. He could just have easily have gotten the idea from a Republican state legislature.

This year, Republican lawmakers in at least six states have proposed bills designed to protect drivers who strike protesters. The first bill was introduced in North Dakota in January, and similar bills have since come under consideration in North Carolina, Tennessee, Florida, Texas and Rhode Island.

They were joined by other states trying to discourage protests — typically relating to Black Lives Matter, the Dakota Access Pipeline or other left-leaning causes — that sometimes obstruct traffic.

The North Dakota bill would shield drivers from civil and criminal liability. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Keith Kempenich, perversely suggested that shielding drivers who kill protesters was a necessary anti-terrorism measure.

Protesters who blocked cars were committing “an intentional act of intimidation — the definition of terrorism,” he told the Los Angeles Times. Right-wing websites and at least one well-known conservative commentator more gleefully advocated running over protesters”

FBI Labeling Black Activist as Extremists

Ferguson BLM vs Militarized Police

NY Times: What Happened in Ferguson?

 

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All Lives Matter Myth

“Black people, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of being “colorblind.” They live in a culture which constantly reminds them of their Black-ness, which tells them in a million large and small ways that they are not as important as white people, that their lives actually do not matter as much as white lives. Which is why saying “Black Lives Matter” is so important.

“All Lives Matter” is a problem because it refocuses the issue away from systemic racism and Black lives. It distracts and diminishes the message that Black lives matter or that they should matter more than they do. “All Lives Matter” is really code for “White Lives Matter,” because when white people think about “all lives,” we automatically think about “all white lives.”

We need to say “Black Lives Matter,” because we’re not living it. No one is questioning whether white lives matter or whether police lives matter. But the question of whether Black lives really matter is an open question in this country.” John Halstead

Huffington Post: The Real Reason White People Say ‘All Lives Matter’

Why “Black” Makes Us Uncomfortable

“Dear fellow white people, let’s have an honest talk about why we say “All Lives Matter.” First of all, notice that no one was saying “All Lives Matter” before people started saying “Black Lives Matter.” So “All Lives Matter” is a response to “Black Lives Matter.” Apparently, something about the statement “Black Lives Matter” makes us uncomfortable. Why is that?

Now some white people might say that singling out Black people’s lives as mattering somehow means that white lives don’t matter. Of course, that’s silly. If you went to a Breast Cancer Awareness event, you wouldn’t think that they were saying that other types of cancer don’t matter. And you’d be shocked if someone showed up with a sign saying “Colon Cancer Matters” or chanting “All Cancer Patients Matter.” So clearly, something else is prompting people to say “All Lives Matter” in response to “Black Lives Matter.”

Many of the people saying “All Lives Matter” also are fond of saying “Blue Lives Matter.” If you find that the statement “Black Lives Matter” bothers you, but not “Blue Lives Matter,” then the operative word is “Black”. That should tell us something. There’s something deeply discomfiting about the word “Black.” I think it’s because it reminds us of our whiteness and challenges our notion that race doesn’t matter.

The Problem With “Colorblindness”

If you’re like me, growing up, the word “Black” was always spoken of in whispers in your family. It was like we were saying something taboo. Why was that? Because it was taboo. We might feel more comfortable saying “African-American,” but not “Black.” The reason is that we were raised to believe that “colorblindness” was the ideal for whites. We were taught that we shouldn’t “see color.” And saying the word “Black” was an acknowledgment of the fact that we did “see color.”

The problem with being “colorblind” — aside from the fact that we’re not really — is that it is really a white privilege to be able to ignore race. White people like me have the luxury of not paying attention to race — white or black. The reason is because whiteness is treated as the default in our society. Whiteness is not a problem for white people, because it blends into the cultural background.

Black people, on the other hand, don’t have the luxury of being “colorblind.” They live in a culture which constantly reminds them of their Black-ness, which tells them in a million large and small ways that they are not as important as white people, that their lives actually do not matter as much as white lives. Which is why saying “Black Lives Matter” is so important.

“Black Lives [Do Not] Matter”

“All Lives Matter” is a problem because it refocuses the issue away from systemic racism and Black lives. It distracts and diminishes the message that Black lives matter or that they should matter more than they do. “All Lives Matter” is really code for “White Lives Matter,” because when white people think about “all lives,” we automatically think about “all white lives.”

We need to say “Black Lives Matter,” because we’re not living it. No one is questioning whether white lives matter or whether police lives matter. But the question of whether Black lives really matter is an open question in this country. Our institutions act like Black lives do not matter. The police act like Black lives do not matter when they shoot unarmed Black people with their arms in the air and when Blacks are shot at two and a half times the rate of whites, even when whites are armed. The judicial system acts like Black lives don’t matter when Blacks are given more severe sentences than whites who commit the same crimes and are turned into chattel in a for-profit prison-industrial complex.

And white people act like Black lives do not matter when we fail to raise the appropriate level of outrage at unjustified killings of Blacks or when we respond with platitudes like “All Lives Matter.”

But we still say it. We say it because “All Lives Matter” lets us get back to feeling comfortable. “Black Lives Matter” makes us uncomfortable. Why? Because it reminds us that race exists. It reminds us that our experience as white people is very different from the experience of Black people in this country. It reminds us that racism is alive and well in the United States of America.

The New Face of Racism

Now, I just said the “R” word, so you’re probably feeling defensive at this point. You’re instinctively thinking to yourself that you are not a racist. You may be thinking that you have Black friends or that you don’t use the N-word or that you would never consciously discriminate against a Black person. But most racism today is more subtle than that. Sure, there is a lot of overt racism that still goes on. The KKK is still active and some white people do still say the N-word. But overt racism is really culturally unacceptable any more among whites today. The racism that we need to face today is much more insidious than white hoods and racial slurs. It is the racism of well-meaning people who are not consciously or intentionally racist.

The racism that we need to face is the racism of average white middle-class Americans who would never think of saying the N-word and would vociferously condemn the KKK, but nevertheless unwittingly participate in institutionalized racism. We most often participate in racism by omission, rather than commission. We participate in racism when we fail to see it where it exists. We participate in racism when we continue to act like race is a problem that only Black people have. We participate in racism when we seek comfortable responses like “All Lives Matter.”

What We Can Do: Embrace the Discomfort

We white people need to embrace our discomfort. Here are some things we can do:

1. Recognize that we are not “colorblind.”

We can start by recognizing that we all have an “implicit bias” toward Blacks. Think you don’t have it? Consider how we mentally congratulate ourselves when we treat the random Black person the same way we treat white people. Here’s a tip, if you give yourself brownie points for treating Black people like you do white people, you’re not really treating Black people like white people.

Still don’t think you have unconscious bias, go to the Harvard implicit bias testing website and take the tests on race and skin-tone. Even white anti-racism activists like me have these biases. And they come out in all kinds of subtle ways, as well as not so subtle ways.

2. Work against unconscious bias by spending time with Black people in Black spaces.

Next, go out of your way to spend time with Black people in Black community settings. Many of us live segregated lives in which we have little to no interaction with Black people. Let’s face it, Black people make us white people uncomfortable. It’s because we’ve been socialized by a racist system to fear Black people.

Even if you feel comfortable around individual Black people, you most likely do not feel comfortable in a room full of Black people. You might have Black friends, but you probably socialize with them in white spaces. Have you ever been to a Black space and felt uncomfortable? Maybe you felt like no one wanted you there. Welcome to the everyday experience of Black people in white culture.

And when you go to a Black space, go to listen rather than lead. Learn to follow. Leading is a white privilege. Let go of it for a while and learn from those whose experience you will never have. Listen to Black people, and if what they are saying or how they are saying it makes you uncomfortable, so much the better.

3. Talk to white people about institutional racism and say “Black Lives Matter.”

It’s no good sitting around feeling guilty about white privilege. We need to do something about it. One thing we can do is to use our white privilege to dismantle it.

One white privilege we have is that other white people listen to us. We can go into white spaces and talk to white people about implicit bias and institutional racism. We can unapologetically proclaim that “Black Lives Matter.”

After the Orlando shooting, I went to an interfaith vigil in my small conservative town. Almost no one among the speakers said the words “queer,” “gay,” or “lesbian.” This was probably unconscious, but it revealed a lingering, but deepseated discomfort among heterosexuals with gayness and queerness, a discomfort that the popular use of the acronym “LGBT” obscures. Similarly, we whites are uncomfortable with Black-ness. We don’t even like like to say the word. It feels wrong in our mouths. We hide it by using code words like “inner city” or “urban,” terms which allow us to hide from our unconscious racism. We need to say “Black Lives Matter” because we need to overcome our discomfort with Blacks and face up to our unconscious bias.

Join the Second Civil Rights Movement

Dear fellow white people, we are in the middle of a second Civil Rights Movement. Most of us white people idealize Martin Luther King, Jr. and we like to think that we would have been on his side of things during the Civil Rights era. But the fact is that the majority of the American public did not support the Civil Rights movement while it was happening and only came to see King as a hero after he was killed.

The Civil Rights movement was unpopular among most whites when it was happening. It was unpopular because it made white people deeply uncomfortable. Today, the Black Lives Matter movement makes us uncomfortable, too. In forty years we will look back on this second Civil Rights movement and have to ask ourselves whether we were on the right side of history. If we want to be on the right side of history this time, we have to make ourselves uncomfortable. There is no comfortable way to change. And the change can start with saying this simple but powerful phrase: Black Lives Matter.”

 

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White Lives Matter: More than a Counter Protest

WP: Why SPLC says White Lives Matter is a hate group but Black Lives Matter is not

“In the 1980s, the Southern Poverty Law Center — an organization born of the civil rights movement — began tracking extremist organizations they deemed “hate groups” in the United States. At the time, most were white supremacist organizations finding renewed footing after a resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan.They called it Klanwatch, then eventually the Intelligence Project.

In the nearly 40 years since, hundreds of groups that ascribe to varying brands of inflammatory ideology — Neo-Nazi, anti-gay, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, Holocaust-denying or black separatist groups — have been lumped into the list. There is even a “general hate” category. The center’s definition of hate groups — “those that vilify entire groups of people based on immutable characteristics such as race or ethnicity” — mirrors the one used by the federal government when prosecuting hate crimes.

Although the news media routinely cites SPLC hate group designations as if they were definitive, some categorizations have in fact been controversial. The law center is left-leaning, a nugget conservatives and even moderates have used to deem some SPLC distinctions illegitimate — especially when it labeled the Family Research Council, a conservative organization, a hate group for its stance on people’s being gay.

But the center’s most recent critique came this summer from some conservatives after ambush shootings killed eight police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge, days after Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the country to denounce the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of law enforcement. Thousands signed Change.org petitions, the center received direct requests and conservative commentators joined the chorus of critics demanding a hate group designation for Black Lives Matter, claiming its rhetoric was inflammatory.

The SPLC refused. This month, the organization announced the latest additions to its Hate Map tracker. Black Lives Matter is not on the list. White Lives Matter is.

Separated in name by just one word, the organizations are rooted in far different ideologies and end goals, according to the SPLC, which is why the center claims one is founded in hateful principles and the other is not. Neither group has a singular, concentrated leadership structure. Most commonly, the phrases that define them are used in a symbolic way, to represent a school of thought, not all that different from the catchphrases of the antiwar protests decades ago.

“Make love, not war,” meant something to those who said it, but it didn’t necessarily have an attached organization, unlike, for example, the political slogans of presidential nominees. “Make America Great Again” is linked to a political ideology but also to a specific politician. These movements are more diffuse and at times amorphous.

In mid-July, SPLC President Richard Cohen wrote a blog post titled “Black Lives Matter is Not a Hate Group” with a nuanced explanation for that declaration.

“We have heard nothing remotely comparable to the NBPP’s bigotry from the founders and most prominent leaders of the Black Lives Matter movement and nothing at all to suggest that the bulk of the demonstrators hold supremacist or black separatist views,” Cohen wrote, referencing the New Black Panther Party. “Thousands of white people across America — indeed, people of all races — have marched in solidarity with African Americans during BLM marches, as is clear from the group’s website. The movement’s leaders also have condemned violence.

“There’s no doubt,” he added, “that some protesters who claim the mantle of Black Lives Matter have said offensive things, like the chant ‘pigs in a blanket, fry ’em like bacon’ that was heard at one rally. But before we condemn the entire movement for the words of a few, we should ask ourselves whether we would also condemn the entire Republican Party for the racist words of its presumptive nominee — or for the racist rhetoric of many other politicians in the party over the course of years.”

Black Lives Matter was born in 2014 after George Zimmerman was acquitted in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in Florida. It first surfaced as a trending social media hashtag, then grew to a nationwide political movement. Its leaders have called for increased scrutiny of police brutality against racial and ethnic minorities, an end to mass incarceration in the United States and a heightened awareness of institutional racism.

Black Lives Matter, the organization, has more than 20 chapters across the United States and Canada, but the broader movement is not limited by those structured groups. The phrase itself has been used by protesters and online activists across the country who feel solidarity with the movement but may not be specifically tied to the organization in a traditional, membership-based sense.

While variations of the “Lives Matter” concept has been used by a variety of individuals and activists, SPLC sees White Lives Matter as a definitively dangerous iteration, calling it “a radical counter-movement” with “racist activists working hard to spread its claims.” “Its main activists, to put it plainly, are unvarnished white supremacists,” Sarah Viets wrote in a blog post.

It’s a hate group, SPLC argues, because the message has been co-opted by a handful of proven white supremacists. Two such groups, the Aryan Strikeforce, a skinhead group, and the National Socialist Movement, America’s largest neo-Nazi group, largely inspired the designation, Heidi Beirich, director of the Intelligence Project, told the Boston Globe. The law center identified Tennessean Rebecca Barnette, a leader in both groups, as one of White Lives Matter’s “key leaders, if not the leader.” “Barnette, who describes herself as a ‘revolutionist’ who is working to ‘create a new world’ for white people, appears to run both the WLM website and the movement’s Facebook page,”

Viets wrote on the law center’s blog.

The group’s website promotes the idea that a “white genocide” is sweeping the United States, caused by “mass third world immigration, integration by force and 24/7 race mixing propaganda.” “It supports breeding practices that improve fitness, opposes dysgenic immigration,” the website continues, “and takes a libertarian stance on other right wing gripes that don’t directly turn the population non-White.”

White Lives Matter is not a white supremacist or anti-Semitic group, the website claims, but it believes “ethnic Europeans are worth preserving” and that, though “Jews are generally likeable,” it opposes “Jewish aggression.” The Texas-based Aryan Renaissance Society, another group of which SPLC alleges Barnette is a member, claims to be “the leading force behind the WLM Movement,” according to the law center. And researchers linked the ARS to a protest that was held outside the Houston headquarters of the NAACP last week.

Men and women waved Confederate flags, criticized the Black Lives Matter movement and called the NAACP “one of the most racist groups in America.” One sign read “14 words,” a reference to the white supremacist motto: “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.”

In reaction to the SPLC hate group declaration, a YouTube channel labeled White Lives Matter posted a video this week of a white man outside a BP gas station inserting so-called “Black on White crime” fliers into the free coupon box.  “While groups such as the Southern Poverty Law Center say we are terrorists and we are a hate group, at the grass-roots, small-town America, just normal, casual USA, everybody knows the truth,” the man says. “White Lives Matters. Black Lives Matters is the largest terrorist organization in America, right now, today. They riot, they loot, they pillage.”

On Wednesday, NBC News published a statement it said came from White Lives Matter, albeit without saying specifically which group or person issued it:

White Lives Matter is really about recognizing the contributions that people of European descent have made to civilization, and that we as a people and culture are worth preserving. We reject the notion that it is morally wrong for people of European descent to love and support their own race. We value Western civilization and believe that at the very least, immigrants should not make us dumber or poorer.

White Lives Matter is not the only “lives matter” counter-movement. As law enforcement began receiving increased scrutiny from the public over officer-involved shootings and a lack of accountability for them, police supporters used the phrase Blue Lives Matter. Another iteration, All Lives Matter, was created by those who think focusing on only the black and brown victims of police brutality is divisive and distracts from the larger issue.”

 

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Learn More

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Shooting of Trayvon Martin

A HerStory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement

Huffington Post: The Dynamic History Of #BlackLivesMatter Explained

Responsible Consumer: Police Brutality


 

Follow Campaign

Black Lives Matter Facebook

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A Vision for Black Lives

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#TalkAboutTrayvon

  • A Toolkit for White People on the Fifth Anniversary of Trayvon’s Death

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Washington Post: This is what white people can do to support #BlackLivesMatter

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