Black Lives Matter Works Locally to Support Baton Rouge Relief Efforts, Travels to Brazil to Plan for Black Feminist Futures, and Stands with Water Protectors in North Dakota
The Black Lives Matter Global Network is diverse and vast in our efforts to create a world in which all of our lives are valued and our collective liberation is realized. As a part of this current iteration of the Black liberation movement, we are often on the frontlines demanding justice for those in our communities killed by obvious murderous violence at the hands of police. And, we know that clear physical violence is not the only form of violence that white supremacy wages against Black people. We know that systems of racism, capitalism, and militarism are pervasive and people use these tools to commit violence against Black people in a multitude of ways. It is imperative that as we fight for our liberation, we are fighting white supremacy and those who embody it on as many fronts as possible.
Recently, members of the BLM Global Network traveled to Baton Rouge to be on the ground to help with relief efforts. BLM chapter leaders organized donations, helped prepare and serve food, and cleaned homes as a part of their work to help Black folks who are currently being ignored by state and federal governments as they try to rebuild their lives after a tragedy. While the cause of this crisis was a natural disaster, the current conditions that Black people in Baton Rouge are living in are a direct reflection of the lack of care afforded to Black people time and again.
A reflection on Baton Rouge from DiDi Delgado, BLM Cambridge:
Being in Baton Rouge, our team saw firsthand how folks who have worked so hard to rebuild after tragedy struck with Hurricane Katrina were displaced yet again from their homes. This was a difficult thing to experience, more difficult than I originally thought it would be. This devastation is something the media cannot describe adequately for you. To sit and listen to stories from folks who will have no place to go after the shelter at the River Center closes today, Friday, September 16, 2016, so that the civic center can resume it’s “entertainment schedule” just continues to showcase how we collectively turn a blind eye to corporate development and greed. As organizers, these stories hit close to home as many of us face personal traumas and have to constantly rebuild.
I cried today. I’m not sure if it was to release what has been holed up inside of me or because I know these children who were grateful for something as simple as a hot plate of food we provided along with Carl’s Mobile Grill, will go back to rebuilding, instead of being children. How many of us are starting over and have help from our families, friends or other loved ones? THIS is our family ya’ll — whether it happens in our own communities or outside of them, it takes resources and money to rebuild. Resources and money that the folks who are most affected, do not have. Please consider donating what you can: http://www.youcaring.com/BLMforBatonRouge #BLM4BR
Further down the globe, Black feminists from across the world gathered for two days at the Black Feminisms Forum (BFF) to be a part of “a global movement-building process co-created by Black feminist artists, activists, agitators and creators that culminated in the gathering”. This space was created for Black feminists to strategize and deepen our solidarity.
A reflection from Nikita Mitchell, BLM Bay Area and Network Staff:
“Why not African Lives Matter?”
Sandy Hudson, a leader with BLM Toronto, and I traveled with other Blacks as representatives from Movement for Black Lives to Brazil for the Black Feminist Forum. I went expecting to build with Black organizers across the globe and to develop political relationships that can inform our work within the BLM network. What I experienced was that and more. Roughly 300 people attended The Black Feminist Forum,the majority of people being from the Americas. Conversations centered on Black identity, the functionality of Pan-Africanism, and possible cross globe actions. While we were in Brazil and surrounded by various nationalities, we could not escape the presence of America and the white gaze. Thus, Black American identity and organizing work were topics of conversation often and a space for critique. BLM was specifically a hot topic in conversations that I frequented. Below are some of the questions that arose and that I am still reflecting on:
- How do Black folks in the United States and Canada understand our material conditions? Lived experiences? Are we an internal colony?
- Can our freedom be accomplished within the American framework? What is our position on Pan-Africanism?
- Should our politics address colonization and what is happening outside of the Americas?
- For Black Americans, how do we address American privilege in our politics and in our organizing work?
- Are we serious about getting free? If we are, how do we need to restructure our network and our organizing work to get free? What are the personal sacrifices do we/I need to make to get free?
- How does BLM use this moment of hypervisibility and saturation of resources to align with Black organizer’s work around the global?
As I continue to reflect on my experiences at the Black Feminist Forum, I want to invite other folks to answer the above questions with me. Sandy and I will be sending a longer reflection soon that is tied to a proposal on how to uplift our global family, starting with our chapters outside of the United States.
Lastly, moving back up the globe almost to Canada, more BLM chapter leads travelled to Standing Rock to be in solidarity with water protectors as they continue to put their lives and bodies on the line for our collective right to water. Recently, 22 people were arrested and still, the people have not been moved.
A reflection from Julius Jones, BLM — Worcester:
There was a historic feeling to Standing Rock. As you drive in, there was a National Guard checkpoint, where they warn you of the protest, about 20 miles down the road. They were very kind in their words, all the while a large handgun rests in the front pocket of their uniform. As you drive up, and slow down, the gun rests at eye level, cold steel glistening in the sunlight. I suppose it is easy to be kind to someone you can just as easily kill as defend.
After a while longer you see harbingers of change in the scenery. At first you see a small number of tents outside a construction site. You see rows of banners running along a fence. After another two minutes of driving, just beyond a large hill near the road, you see it; a change of scenery, a break in the monotony, a disturbance to the status quo, a bustling camp, a small village preparing for winter, a site of growing rebellion.
Seeing so many First Nation peoples in traditional dress, iconic teepees, on horseback, men and women in colorful necklaces and earrings and at the same time so many dressed in sneakers and t-shirts, I felt we were walking in both modern times and olden times. I felt a sense of layered time, and ancestral consciousness.
The spiritual energy that swept over the camp at night almost knocked me over. Right around twilight as we walked down from “Facebook Hill”, the largest hill with the greatest likelihood of catching some 3G, there was a palpable pressure change and everything shifted. Maybe it was being so close to the sacred grounds on the other side of the hill, or the transition from day to night, but things changed. Everywhere I went I heard whispers of tarot cards, ritual and Magic. The fires that lit up the night under the perfect Half Moon all spoke to my spirit.
This current time we find ourselves in is, in many ways, a gift. There are uprisings happening all over the world. In U.S. prisons last week, we saw #PrisonStrike affect at least twenty-nine facilities, with tens of thousands of workers refusing to work, thousands more in the streets, and many countries around the world moving in solidarity with U.S. inmates. It is imperative that we continue to show up for one another against the many different heads, faces, and arms of white supremacy. Whether it is providing resources to Black folks who are purposefully neglected and ignored by the State, plotting a better future with Black feminists from around the globe, or showing up for movement allies as they fight to protect water for all of us. The enemies of a world in which all of us have our humanity affirmed use a multitude of weapons, strategies, and influence against us; and we must leverage our power, be in deep, reciprocal relationships with one another, and consistently show up for one another to achieve this world.
If you wish to help with these efforts:
Help Baton Rouge: Black Lives Matter Relief Effort
- Please visit the youcaring page to donate to Baton Rouge relief efforts, and find more information about the work chapters are leading here.
Black Lives Matter: Brazil and Beyond
- Interested in talking more about some of the questions Nikita proposed? Reach out to her at Nikita@blacklivesmatter.com