Social media and I have had a complicated relationship as of late. Things got a little rocky, and as Ross once said, “We were on a break!” Between the performative but well-intentioned activism and the graphic images of death crowding my feed, I realized that the only way to support myself and others was to take a step back from scrolling. A few protests, petitions, donations, and emails later, I’ve had some time to reflect.
While I grew up aware of the issues facing Black America and many other communities of color, my interest in these topics was truly awakened in 2014. That year, I participated in the Student Diversity and Leadership Conference. Shortly after arriving, I saw the footage of Eric Garner’s murder. The conference helped me make sense of many of the things I was feeling — and had been feeling for years. It also introduced me to activism, the power of coalition, and anti-racism. Six years later, it seems like the whole country is having a similar awakening.
As I once again chant “No Justice, No Peace!” and read the same witty signs and see Black Lives Matter trending, I feel a wave of déjà vu. This isn’t the first time I’ve emailed state officials to ask that they simply stop officers from murdering with impunity. George Floyd’s murder was heartbreaking but not surprising. Some of us have been here. Some of us have felt this frustration and sadness and anger before. Some of us were protesting ICE before we had photos of children in cages. We marched and demanded sanctuary cities because we knew “El pueblo! Unido! Jamás! Será! Vencido!” So while I’m filled with hope and inspiration as I watch the world come to these realizations, I can’t help but think it might be years, or decades, or centuries too late.
You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time. —Angela Davis
The least we can do is make this time count. Part of that means recognition and remembrance. Recognize the Black men, women, and children who continue to be brutalized and killed by the state. Remember the missing and murdered Indigenous women. Think about why people risk their lives and their children’s lives to cross the border and why this country responds to destitution with violence and indifference. Consider the importance of Palestinian liberation and question how and why Palestine is slowly being wiped off the map. The intersections between all of these issues are striking. When we talk about corruption in US police departments, let’s talk about the Israeli soldiers who trained them, the stolen land beneath the prison floors, and the criminalization of migration.
I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. —James Baldwin
We cannot stop talking about Breonna Taylor. We cannot stop talking about Elijah McClain. Atatiana Jefferson. Ahmaud Arbery. Philando Castille. Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Ahmed Erakat. João Pedro Matos Pinto. Jayson Negron. And so many more. We cannot stop talking about the children who have died or were “lost” while the United States detained them. We cannot stop cultivating empathy and the desire to support those around us.
So where do we go from here? I’m still figuring that out along with everyone else. Although the current state of affairs is absolutely unacceptable, I’m confident that we’re moving in the right direction.
Black lives matter.
Listen, read, and do your research! Recommended Readings and Resources
Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis
White by Law: The Legal Construction of Race by Ian Haney López
Charged: The New Movement to Transform American Prosecution and Mass Incarceration by Emily Bazelon
From Deportation to Prison: The Politics of Immigration Enforcement in Post-Civil Rights America by Patrisia Macías-Rojas
From a Native Daughter by Haunani-Kay Trask
Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine by Noura Erakat
Serial Podcast Season 3 Episodes 1-5
Black lives matter.