SIXBYEIGHT PRESS EDITORS
Black lives matter.
We write this to express our anger and grief following the murders of Tanisha Anderson, Ahmaud Arbery, Michael Brown, Philando Castile, Stephon Clark, Michelle Cusseaux, Dominique “Rem’Mie” Fells, George Floyd, Janisha Fonville, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Akai Gurley, Botham Jean, Atatiana Jefferson, Tony McDade, Riah Milton, Tamir Rice, Aura Rosser, Alton Sterling, Breonna Taylor, and so many more. We write this thinking of their families, friends, and loved ones. We write this angry that they were taken from our world. We write this angry at how little consequence there has been for those who killed them. We write this aware that this list of names could be so much longer.
We are humbled by how much we have yet to learn about Black history and Black liberation. We are disappointed in ourselves and our society for our failure to dismantle systemic racism. We write this in acute awareness of our own ongoing growth: we must learn to not only speak/write about systemic racism as a theoretical framework, but how to live anti-racist lives personally, inter-personally, and collectively.
We commit: our entire December 2020 issue will be focused on Black Lives Matter and racial justice. This holds us accountable to doing the work, educating ourselves and others, and advocating for the next six months. This is not a postponement, or a pressing “pause”, but rather a commitment to doing sustained work in ourselves and our world.
We thank you in advance for holding us to it.
How can we protest during a pandemic? How can we not protest during a pandemic? When the pandemic is disproportionately killing Black and brown people. When police still find time to kill unarmed Black and brown people. When Black and brown people are, somehow, both unreasonably relied on as essential workers and hit harder by the economic downturn. When Black and brown people are less likely to have access to outdoor space, grocery stores, and other resources that make getting through a pandemic easier.
John Boyega George Floyd protest London speech in full: Star Wars actor’s powerful Hyde Park message | Evening Standard | Source: © Evening Standard/YouTube
We cannot think about a future without addressing anti-Black structural inequities and individual biases. We cannot think about a future without incorporating health and success for BIPOC people.
Yet, for the most part these are not our experiences as editors. We do not have the answers; we are developing our understanding and plans for action by listening to and learning from people who do.
To that end, we have gathered an array of works and statements that capture what may, what should, and what must come next. There are many incredible voices calling and fighting for the profound social change we need. As keepers of this platform, our goal is to amplify and share some that we hope will move our community of readers and writers to participate in the cause for Black equity.
Black Lives Matter
“Enough is enough.
Our pain, our cries, and our need to be seen and heard resonate throughout this entire country.
We demand acknowledgment and accountability for the devaluation and dehumanization of Black life at the hands of the police.
We call for radical, sustainable solutions that affirm the prosperity of Black lives.
George Floyd’s violent death was a breaking point — an all too familiar reminder that, for Black people, law enforcement doesn’t protect or save our lives. They often threaten and take them.
Right now, Minneapolis and cities across our country are on fire, and our people are hurting — the violence against Black bodies felt in the ongoing mass disobedience, all while we grapple with a pandemic that is disproportionately affecting, infecting, and killing us.
We call for an end to the systemic racism that allows this culture of corruption to go unchecked and our lives to be taken.”
THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC SAFETY
8 to Abolition
“At its root, policing is a system designed to uphold oppression.
One thousand people are killed by police every year, and Black people are murdered at three times the rate of white people. Up to fifty percent of people murdered by the police have disabilities. Up to 40% of police officers have perpetrated intimate partner violence, and sexual violence is the second most common form of police brutality, primarily targeting Black women and especially those who are sex workers and drug users.
Many of these incidents of police violence are undocumented by studies and only uplifted through grassroots movements. Black people who are women, trans, gender non-conforming, sex working, and queer are often criminalized for actions they take to survive gendered violence, as we have seen in the cases of Tracy McCarter, Chrystul Kizer, Alisha Walker, GiGi Thomas, Marissa Alexander, Bresha Meadows, Cyntoia Brown, and many others.
We reject the notion of a “perfect survivor”; we do not believe anyone deserves to be caged, nor do we prescribe to the state’s notions of “innocence” and culpability. We recognize that the system of policing is heavily intertwined with the military industrial complex, both here and abroad. In abolishing policing, we seek to abolish imperialist forms of police, such as militaries responsible for generations of violence against Black and brown people worldwide.”
“More than one thousand people are killed by police every year in America.
Nearly sixty percent of victims did not have a gun or were involved in activities that should not require police intervention such as harmless “quality of life” behaviors or mental health crises. 2019 was no different. There were only 27 days in 2019 where police did not kill someone.
This pattern must stop. We must end police violence so we can live and feel safe in this country. We can live in an America where the police do not kill people. Police in England, Germany, Australia, Japan, and even cities like Irvine, CA, demonstrate that public safety can be ensured without killing civilians. By implementing the right policy and systemic changes, we can end police killings and other forms of police violence in the United States.”
THE FUTURE OF ORGANIZATIONS
Beyond the Obligatory Statement: Here are 5 Things Organizations Can Do to Meaningfully Combat Racism
“1. In what ways will your organization acknowledge responsibility in the pursuit of racial justice?
Right now, many people are coming to the realization that racism is a problem. They see the systemic issue and want to take a stand against violent acts of injustice, but it takes much more work to understand the ways that individuals are complicit in the problem of racism, either consciously or subconsciously. It is important to acknowledge and accept responsibility for the harm that Black people may experience not only through violent actions or the use of slurs, but in subtle manifestations such as micro-aggressions, unequal access to opportunity and the way performance is judged or rewarded.
2. How will you ensure that the voices influencing organizational action are inclusive and representative?
Rather than aiming solely for “diversity,” which is a numeric characteristic, the voices influencing your organization’s response should also be “inclusive” — given power in the conversation, and “representative” — reflective of not just a hand-picked few, but of the experiences of Black people across all divisions of the organization. At the same time, it is important that the responsibility of action does not fall solely, or disproportionately, on Black people and other minorities, but rather is carried out by broad groups of people informed by expertise and best practices. If your organization hasn’t hired or retained a critical mass of Black employees, you have an opportunity to learn. Hire a consultant to recommend strategies to transform your organization into a space where Black employees feel safe, included and valued.
3. How will your budget and resource allocation reflect your commitment? How will you ensure that individuals who guide your organization’s response are recognized and compensated for their additional labor?
A budget is a moral statement of priorities. It is unfair to expect Black people in your organization to perform the labor of building and transforming for free, especially if those tasks are outside of their job descriptions. If your organization establishes a committee to address racial issues, recognize the individuals who serve by giving the committee a name, compensation and authority. If you require outside resources to do the work of racial justice, or if your organization chooses to act by donating to social justice efforts, dedicate a budget line so that those commitments can be sustained over time. Expect that the work of transformation will require time, energy and money.
4. What measures are put in place to support Black people and offer education for other members of the organization?
Black people are often expected to educate others in order to justify their feelings of pain or outrage, and these expectations are especially acute during times of national crisis. Rather than asking Black members of your organization to teach or comfort others during these times, your organization can provide resources so that everyone is better equipped to affirm the values of equality and justice through their thoughts and interactions. Books and articles are a great start, and there are also a number of excellent resource guides available online.
5. What forums are available for members of your organization to provide feedback on their experiences, and how will you track progress over time?
People can feel a sense of mistrust if they believe their experiences do not reflect an organization’s purported values. As your organization takes steps to rectify systemic injustice there must be a system of accountability so that important feedback — positive and negative — can be acknowledged and addressed. One important step is making sure that your organization centralizes the process of feedback — individuals need to be able to identify a clear pathway for voicing their concerns, and need the assurance that their concerns will not be dismissed. In addition to centralizing efforts, organizations need to articulate clear goals in the pursuit of racial justice, develop strategies for measuring their progress and hold themselves accountable for that progress.
Stances against racism must transcend symbolism; the real work is bringing reform to the systems that uphold systemic racism. Ultimately the path to justice can strengthen our brands, businesses, community groups, schools and universities, places of worship and other organizations in ways that benefit everyone. Justice is about building a better world for us all.”
THE FUTURE OF ACADEMIA
Academics for Black Survival and Wellness
“Goals and Objectives:
1. Deepen your understanding of the history and deep-rooted nature of anti-Black racism in the U.S.
Every current disparity and statistic you see about Black people has a historical root. Those roots extend deep into our current systems, which maintain and perpetuate outcomes that act as barriers to Black wellness. We will offer opportunities for you to better understand them.
2. Understand your personal relationship to white supremacy and anti-Black racism.
All academics in the U.S. are socialized in white supremacy. Because of this socialization, it is imperative you can recognize and lean into the psychological resistance that comes up as it relates to understanding and engaging in work related to anti-Black racism and white supremacy. We will provide material for reflection to help you understand these processes and how you may contribute to or perpetuate them.
3. Reflect on the personal impact you have on the Black people in your immediate environmental context.
It is important to pause and center your attention on your relationships with Black people. We will provide an organizing framework for you to consider these relationships and how to be increasingly accountable within them.
4. Develop a personalized plan to enhance the safety and wellness of Black students, staff, faculty, alums, and community members through your academic roles.
Exploring your academic roles, your academic skills, and your preparedness to address anti-Black racism using your unique skills is a key task for an academic seeking to facilitate Black wellness. We will encourage reflection and strategic planning to help you consider and develop a plan of action.
5. Take action that includes time, energy, financial resources, and accountability until Black liberation is realized.”
Academics 4 Black Lives | Source: Academics 4 Black Lives/YouTube
THE FUTURE OF ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY
Green Girl Leah
“This is an inclusive version of environmentalism that advocates for both the protection of people and the planet. It identifies the ways in which injustices happening to marginalized communities and the earth are interconnected. It brings injustices done to the most vulnerable communities, and the earth, to the forefront and does not minimize or silence social inequality. Intersectional environmentalism advocates for justice for people + the planet.”
We’re interested in your thoughts. How are you thinking about and engaging with the Black Lives Matter movement? Do you have suggestions for other actions we could take or perspectives we should incorporate?
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