Rarely do I take to social media to address these types of situations. I firmly believe that the proof a man’s faith rests in his actions not in the volume of his voice. With that being said, I too, am conscious of the need for loud voices to get points across.
However, with the recent unnecessary, heartless and illogical publicized murders of Black Men and Woman at the hands of police, I would like to share a perspective. You are free to agree, disagree or feel nothing at all. They are my thoughts.
I applaud the people that have decided to take some type of action to move communities of color forward as a result of the recent murders. However, the fact of these murders are condemning evidence that we – communities of color, poor black and brown adults and children, have not moved as far along as we thought. We are still strapped in the same shackles of our predecessors and fighting for similar rights.
In the spirit of solutions, I would first like to address the economics. It is true that Black and Brown people have tremendous economic purchasing power. But because we as a community are not directing that purchasing power to the shops, stores, institutions and organizations that have our best interest, we literally allow our muscle to generate wealth for other people and their families. (Not a stretch from what physical slavery was just a few hundred years ago.)
In the spirit of solutions, I would also like to address “ISAIAH WASHINGTON CALLS FOR 24-HOUR BOYCOTT“. Again I applaud the solution based mindset, but I fear that the practicality will not meet the goals or needs of Black and Brown communities. What are those goals anyway? Do we want officers prosecuted? Do we want community policing by citizens living in our own communities? Do we want public agencies to have a population that resembles the population of the people that they represent? Whatever the goal is, we together need to decide it and fight to ascertain that. Throwing random darts in the dark my hit someone, but the person you hit might be on your own team.
Also, what’s the alternative to the recommendation made by Mr. Washington? How can we deter people from working (and essentially eating) without giving them an alternative? I love Andre 3000’s reference to this topic on Rick Ross’ Sixteen song. Andre states,
“I feel right at home, y’all sitting right at home
All Kelly green with envy while I’m jelly beans descending
Into the palm of a child, looks up at mama and smile
With such a devilish grin, like “where the hell have you been”
She yelling that selling’s a sin, well so is telling young men
That selling is a sin, if you don’t offer new ways to win
A dolphin gon shake his fin, regardless if he gets in
Or out of water, most important thing for him is to swim”
In my opinion, he is comparing the idea of selling drugs as an essential ingredient of survival in the hood. I grew up there. I’m not saying he is correct, but will not say that he is wrong. In the previous line he also states that if selling drugs is a sin, it is also a sin to tell young men not to sell drugs if you do not offer them an alternative. Now, I will say that this is indeed something that I agree with. If you are going to tell people to not work, shop, or participate in the social fabrics of society – they should be offered an additional alternative. A great example of what this looks like is the Birmingham Bus Boycott. (Birmingham, Alabama)
Normally, when the boycott recommendation is made, it is made alongside the Birmingham Bus Boycott of 1955. Initiated by the Great Rosa Parks and eventually led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. They carried it out to much success I might add. However, it is often neglected to be mentioned that during those boycotts people pulled together and carpooled because they refused to use public transportation. Black Taxi owners also charged less to transport people back and forth to work. Black leaders brokered deals with insurance agencies when they were threatened with car insurance companies pulling the policies of these people carpooling. There was strategy, goals and tactics. In short, the people found a way to protest economically, insuring wounds to their defined enemy with as minimal interruption to the needs for survival and stability by those participating in. A 24 hour protest does not ensure the people get the changes that they need, it merely makes a statement that will likely receive press but, in the end, no action (of substantial change) will be taken upon.
Just think about it. This boycott had all of the making of a Political uprising, and what they were able to accomplish was not something that is comparable to end racial profiling, intentional murdering of Blacks and Browns or even the prosecution of those that were carrying out such acts. They were only able to desegregate the buses. The next Day Dr. King’s house was fired upon, a young black girls was jumped exiting the bus, there was a sniper attack on a bus where a pregnant woman was shot and churches were bombed. With all of their strategy and tactics, they were only able to desegregate the buses and the rest of Montgomery remained in turmoil.
Finally, as an educator, I know the difference between time on task and time off task. I do not allow my students to spend time off task. There are no fights, there are no crimes, there are very little arguments and there is a whole bunch of learning happening. That learning is essential given that a vast majority of Black and Brown communities are under-educated – I mean 2-3 grade levels behind where they should be. Can I afford to not go to work tomorrow? Well, I have a salary, so I will get paid, but more importantly, how can I let my students down, by not going to work tomorrow. (I believe that there are a host of others who are torn between these very two ideas about work in just a few hours. However, I do not speak for them. I am only giving my perspective. But I encourage you to ask teachers of color and school administrators of color if they agree that somethings needs to be done and if they are still going to work tomorrow. Ask EOF counselors and professors responsible to helping students make a change in their lives and in the world, if they will go to work tomorrow.)
In closing I say, if we are already divided on the idea that some of us will go to work and some of us will not, in an act of protest, can this strategy actually be effective? Businesses can run in the red, and their owners can stimulate them from the profits earned in prior years. There is no quick fix to this problem. It is ingrained in the very fabric of this country and the only changes that can come about are structural changes.
We need to go to work.
We need to go to work organizing our communities.
We need to go to work growing ourselves.
We need to go to work attaining Power.
Power respects power and nothing else. When the power structure is threatened by your absence of participation in it, or willingness to accept mediocre from it, only then will they begin to address your concerns. That can’t happen in 24 hours.
That only happens when communities are built. Schools are thriving. People have jobs. Needs are met. And people are generally happy. Those people will fight to see the indictment of a killer of a black man or woman, albeit a police officer, pope or anyone else because that person threatens the life and lifestyle. And on the contrary the structure would feel compelled to indict that person because they don’t want to risk losing all that your people and community are contributing to the system. At that point, you have power.