Happy New Year! As all markers of time bring, now is an opportunity to reset and refocus. For us, this means re-investing in the fight for Black Liberation–a fight for justice, freedom, and self-determination.
Why continue the fight for Black Liberation? What does this look like in the year 2022? How do we implement and sustain self-determination?
The type of world we want to inhabit is not an overnight fix. The fight for Black liberation requires life-long introspection of unlearnings and re-teachings. We must be honest with ourselves that there are racially charged aspects of daily life that we’ve adopted as the status quo. There is still a deep need for Black safe spaces; there is still gerrymandering; there is still polarizing employment and health gaps; there is still a Federal Reserve bank report that exposed the $8 of Black wealth compared to the $247,000 of white wealth; there is still the truth that even though redlining was outlawed half a century ago, the homeownership rate for Black families has dropped in every neighborhood type over the last 40 years. Boston is unique in that it is a minority majority metro city (Boston Redevelopment Authority), yet the jobs that pay the most are in the city itself. They are also more frequently held by people who are white many of whom do not reside in the City of Boston. From a data standpoint, we are losing this war.
Are we free?
The answer is not yet. The impacts of neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism have lasting effects in modern times. Some believe that slavery has ended, we had a Black president and therefore we have entered into a post-racial world. This is an aspiration; however, the reality is racism has taken on new modern forms.
The message of successful protesting has become convoluted, and it’s essential that we take a look at what modernized organizing looks like. We cannot only rely on the obvious, external, visceral ways, such as demonstrations and the inciting aggressive acts of white supremacy against us. We must also be able to understand how to recognize, fight against and call out elements of oppression. One example of this are the microaggressions that happen in Black people’s daily lives, actions that are deeply embedded into society. Microaggressions are a good example because they are harder to see, as they are often a subtle incident of discrimination; however, this is one of the most prevalent acts of injustice Black people face everyday. We can no longer accept microaggressions as the way things are.
The US has 5% of the world’s population, but 25% of the world's prisoners. That’s 1 out of 4. There are 2.3 million people incarcerated, in the “land of the free”. The US has the highest rates of incarceration in the world…and growing. “It’s with Nixon, with the law and order period, where crime begins to stand in for race”. We must understand what has become “slavery by another name” and how it operates, from mass incarceration to the war on drugs to the foster care system to the school to prison pipelines, the microaggressions we face at work, at play, on the street, in academia, from our white and POC friends (The 13th Documentary).
Continually, the Southern Strategy still permeates our spaces. Beginning with Barry Goldwater’s Operation Dixie in 1964, the Republican Party targeted disaffected white voters in the Democratic stronghold of the American South. To realign these voters with the GOP, the party capitalized on white racial angst that threatened southern white control (Oxford). Who taught you to hate Blackness? Thinly veiled racial appeals persuaded poor and oppressed whites to go against their own class and political interests and perform the workings of white supremacy. The mythology of Black criminology serves as cause to use Black bodies as fodder for the system.
This is why we are abolitionists. This is why Black Liberation is our fight. We must adopt a revolutionary mindset. Dr. John Henrik Clarke says, the “..lack of legal parity has thus demanded that our struggle develop from one of civil rights to human rights.” Redress from slavery goes beyond money, it goes beyond land allocation. And it must go beyond exclaiming Black Lives Matter, politicians taking a knee in Kente cloth or your token Diversity Equity and Inclusion officer. We want justice, which includes humanity.
Malcolm X stated, “I'm not a Republican, nor a Democrat, nor an American, and got sense enough to know it.” We are clear on what the fight is. And we are dedicated to the lifelong protracted struggle that this liberation has become. We are not free in the context of freedom. Our country needs to reckon with this reality in order for true healing to occur. We need to engage with people of all identities, privileges and abilities to win this fight and remedy our world. We mean it when we say there is space for everyone in the movement, from self-education, to being in community with those different from you even when it's uncomfortable. One example this ideology is to embrace the mindset of volunteerism not just for the sake of our collection, but for a conscious effort to learn and positively impact the world around you. This is a lifelong fight. We need to figure out how to shift power to the people. This can only be achieved together.
Thank you for asking the hard questions, looking inward and doing the work that is not just safe, but aims to be brave and take action. We need you.