From the River to the Sea: Palestinian Unity Intifada Fights Back Against Ethnic Cleansing, Colonial Occupation
A Year in
A World Where George Floyd And Ma’Khia Bryant Would Still Be Here Is A World Without Police
Here's the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to the stalled efforts to reform policing in America since George Floyd's police murder in Minneapolis.
Activist Cherrell Brown uses the power of community in the fight for liberation
Why The Nation And White House Need To Prioritize Reproductive Justice
FROM THE BASE TO THE FACE: ON CRITICAL RACE THEORY and WHY WE CAN’T LET UP ON THE PRESSURE
“Why we can’t let up on the pressure”
African American Policy Forum
Media 2070 on the fight to repair media's history of anti-Black harm
In 1919, seventeen-year-old Eugene Williams sailed a raft onto the “white side” of the Chicago River.
Nearly 50 years later, in 1967, police beat the multiracial members of Mothers for Adequate Welfare (MAW) for staging a sit-in at a Boston public-assistance office. Each of these events touched off waves of national uprisings — followed by investigations that revealed a driving force for the
conditions of unrest: the racist U.S. media system.
Remembering George Floyd:
9 Minutes and 29 Seconds That Reignited a Revolution
Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.
Black Children Like Ma’Khia Bryant Are Not Killed Because They’re Being ‘Adultified;’ They’re Murdered Because They’re Black
Black children are and have always been a threat to the continuity of white supremacy and treated as enemy combatants in the same brutal manner as their elders.
The Fight for Black lives and matters of justice is front page news all over the world.
iOne Digital In Conversation With Descendants Of Tulsa Race Massacre Survivors
Greenwood descendants shared their moving reflections with iOne Digital about the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre ahead of the commemoration of its centennial.
From Haiti and Beyond
Trump’s Foreign Policies Continue in the Global South
The Tulsa Race Massacre And Making The Case For Reparations
The Tulsa Race Massacre centennial signifies the failure of the United States to be accountable for the racial terror spawned in slavery, the legacy of which continues to this day – evidenced by racial disparities, including in health, education, criminal and civil justice and wealth.
Letter From the Editor
COVID-19: Light at the End of the Tunnel
By Daniel E. Dawes & Nelson J. Dunlap
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when some data first became available, it became readily apparent that this virus was inflicting disproportionate carnage on the most marginalized in our country. We know that in 2020, life expectancy in the United States dropped overall, but significantly more for Blacks (2.7 years) and LatinX (2 years) in comparison to whites. We, as a country, have experienced pandemics and crises before in our history and due to the innate resilience of the American people, we have always weathered these storms and emerged stronger on the other side. Read more
We know that in 2020, life expectancy in the United States dropped overall, but significantly more for Blacks (2.7 years) and LatinX (2 years) in comparison to whites. We, as a country, have experienced pandemics and crises before in our history and due to the innate resilience of the American people, we have always weathered these storms and emerged stronger on the other side.
‘We Still Fighting’: Photos Of Protests Marking 1-Year Anniversary Of Breonna Taylor’s Death
VIEW MORE ON
Daniel E. Dawes & Nelson J. Dunlap
Adjoa A. Aiyetoro
Kirsten West Savali
Joia Crear-Perry & Monica R. McLemore
Stacey Patton & Toby Rollo
Mariame Kaba & Andrea Ritchie
RETURN TO FRONT PAGE
The state will gladly sacrifice a few officers in unique and spectacular cases to preserve the status quo while enabling policymakers to peddle the idea that justice has been done.
On Tuesday the state delivered what was intended to be a lullaby to soothe our collective outrage at the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin: whispers of “guilty, guilty, guilty.” Instead, within minutes, the nightmare of policing reared its ugly head as news broke that officers in Columbus, Ohio, responded to a call for help by pumping four bullets into the heart of a 16-year-old Black girl within ten seconds of arriving on the scene of a fight.
Notwithstanding the platitudes offered on cable news suggesting that we can all rest easy now that the verdict has put everything right in the world again, and the declarations of “victory” being made by everyone from pundits to players, Chauvin’s conviction of murder in the second degree represents neither justice nor change. It may offer a measure of solace—and we deeply hope George Floyd’s family and community can find some solace—but only in comparison to the alternative. No matter how much time Derek Chauvin is sentenced to, it won’t bring George Floyd back to his loved ones or offer healing or repair. Nor will it bring any relief or respite to Black people terrorized on a daily basis by thousands of cops just like Derek Chauvin.
Not only has there not been “justice,” there hasn’t been “accountability.” Chauvin hasn’t taken any responsibility for his actions, and neither have the three cops who stood by as he murdered Mr. Floyd. Cops across the country are trumpeting the trial as a miscarriage of justice. Militarized police preparations for anticipated protests of the trial’s outcome frame communities as enemy combatants. And the passage of laws across the country criminalizing dissent and authorizing violence against protesters demonstrate the stark reality that the verdict won’t do anything to protect Black communities facing brutal repression whenever we rise up in mourning and rage in the wake of each new police murder.
A single conviction of a single cop won’t change the system that produced and enabled him; in fact, it will embolden it to continue business as usual under the pretext that it can deliver justice. For every rare criminal conviction of a killer cop, thousands more Black people will be murdered, maimed, raped, criminalized and dehumanized without consequence. Since 2005 there have been 140 police arrests on murder or manslaughter charges, while cops have killed over 1000 people a year on average since at least 2014.
In the six weeks since the Chauvin trial began, 64 people have been killed by police—65, if we count Ma’Khia Bryant, shot as the verdict was handed down, and 68 if we count the three more people we know about who were shot the day after. Only 1.1% of police who kill people are criminally charged, and the number of prosecutions documented over a decade represents just over 1/10th of the number of people police kill in a year. Of these, only 44 cases yielded convictions, usually on lesser charges.
Each of these prosecutions consumed tremendous amounts of resources while leaving a murderous system intact. Not one of them stopped the next killing. Yet each is offered up as an illusion that the system will somehow hold itself accountable. The state will gladly sacrifice a few officers in unique and spectacular cases to preserve the status quo while enabling policymakers to peddle the idea that justice has been done.
Policymakers are already making it clear that they no longer feel pressure to continue with the political theater of passing legislation that would have done nothing to prevent Mr. Floyd’s death and would pour $750 million more dollars into departments like the one that employed Chauvin to investigate police killings after the fact. They will use Chauvin’s conviction to argue that the system is working just as it should, and to stifle any efforts at substantive systemic change. In other words, George Floyd’s murder is being used to recuperate the institution that killed him in the midst of one of the greatest crises of legitimacy it has faced.
The futility of prosecutions in preventing the next police killing was proven by the actions of a Columbus, Ohio, officer who gunned a Black girl down in the street in front of her home as the verdict in the Chauvin case was read, and of the officers who then proceeded to yell “Blue Lives Matter” at a grieving crowd of Black people who had witnessed her murder while wearing face masks with the pro-police slogan emblazoned on them.
But Ma’Khia Bryant is much more than a well-timed rhetorical point in a debate about “reimagining” policing vs. abolishing the violent institution altogether. She matters not because the timing of her killing allows for a neat juxtaposition, but because her life does.
Ma’Khia was a beloved Black girl who would still be here if we didn’t perseverate on the myth that cops – and policing – keep us safe. If we focused on how Black girls are perceived and policed from the youngest age in every institution. If we understood that for Black women, girls, trans and gender-nonconforming people, a call for help can be – and is all too often – fatal. If we understood the violence Black girls routinely experience in the foster system as part of the violence we are fighting to end. If we understood that our failure to protect Black girls, women and trans people from violence and provide for a world where they have everything they need to be safe often leaves them with no choice but to defend themselves – and then be criminalized, punished, or worse yet, killed as a result.
As members of the In Our Names Network gathered on Tuesday night to hold space together and learn more about how we could support Ma’Khia’s family and organizers on the ground in Columbus, we worried that the tragedy of Ma’Khia’s killing would be sacrificed to the imperative of the recuperation narrative, to preserve the dream that justice was and can be done for a Black man killed by police.
We braced ourselves for the inevitable demonization, victim-blaming and adultification of a Black girl, and the predictable distinctions drawn between “armed” and “unarmed” victims of police violence. We anticipated the focus on what she was doing instead of questioning why killing her, as opposed to employing a multitude of other options, including de-escalation, is being normalized as a rational response under circumstances. We watched as her family fought to have the world see Ma’Khia as worthy of life, and as people circulated videos of a beautiful sweet Black girl doing her hair in an effort to counter criminalizing and dehumanizing projections. We know that there will be no conviction or accountability for the officer involved, and that non “exceptional” killings like this will continue to be routinely justified in contrast to rare prosecutions of police. Her experience illuminates the full picture of policing, in which the Chauvin prosecution is the exception, not the rule.
As the state continues to sing the lullaby that justice was served in the Chauvin case and we can make the system work “for us,” we cannot be seduced by siren songs of faux “accountability” and prison sentences. More and more people are becoming uneasy and disquieted by the lullaby, rather than being induced to slumber. We all need to keep our eyes wide open to see the work ahead.
The demand is still to defund and abolish policing. We cannot let policymakers claim this conviction as a justification to continue to pour money into policing and punishment—including through more “investigations,” consent decrees, commissions and “oversight”—while our communities continue to be defunded and denied the resources we need to survive, the majority of survivors of violence continue to be left behind by law-enforcement-based approaches, and our loved ones continue to be criminalized and killed. We cannot afford to double down on the notion that if we just pour more faith and funds into the system – including money intended for pandemic recovery – the nightmare will dissipate.
We can’t sleep in a world where a man is murdered over a $20 bill and then blamed for his own death, where a woman is killed in a police home invasion, where a teen’s call for help can be fatal, where children are killed before, during, and after a trial intended to burnish the reputation of the institution that killed them. The whole damn system is in fact guilty as hell. It’s time to build a world where they would all still be here to dream their own futures. A world where there is more safety, more resources, and infinitely more options to address conflict, harm and need. A world without police.
Mariame Kaba and Andrea J. Ritchie are co-founders of Interrupting Criminalization, and co-authors of No More Police: A Case for Abolition (forthcoming from New Press in 2022). Kaba is the author of the New York Times best-seller We Do This Til We Free Us, founder of Project Nia, and co-founder of Survived and Punished. Ritchie is the author of Invisible No More: Police Violence Against Black Women and Women of Color, co-author of Say Her Name: Resisting Police Brutality Against Black Women, and co-founder of the In Our Names Network.
Image source: Anadolu Agency / Getty
Written By Mariame Kaba and Andrea J. Ritchie
Across the United States, demonstrators held rallies to honor the life and legacy of Breonna Taylor, a Black 26-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, woman who was killed by police in her home on March 13, 2020.
Taylor’s death marked a pivotal moment in the Black Lives Matter movement and again reminded us that Black women and girls are also subjugated to routine violence at the hands of law enforcement. Taylor’s death stood at the intersection of race and gender, where Black women experience different layers of trauma when victimized by the police.
Protests were held in major cities over the United States in Taylor’s hometown of Louisville, New York City and Atlanta, Grand Rapids and Los Angeles.
In Louisville, hundreds of demonstrators followed behind Tamika Palmer, Taylor’s mother, and other members of Taylor’s family. The event took place in Jefferson Square Park for the Justice for Breonna Taylor rally and march.
“We still in the streets[.] We still fighting,” Palmer wrote in an Instagram post, captioning a flyer for the anniversary demonstrations.
“1 year ago, Breonna Taylor was tragically killed in her own home, igniting a movement for racial justice and necessary change, which has prompted many cities and states to BAN no-knock warrants,” Ben Crump, a lawyer for Taylor’s family tweeted on Sunday. “365 days have passed but the fight for justice for Breonna Taylor continues!!”
On Friday ahead of the anniversary, Palmer filed a complaint against six officers over their roles in the investigation. Palmer has asked the LMPD’s Professional Standards Unit and the Public Integrity Unit to investigate the officers in reference to statements and reports used in the investigation, as well as those who reportedly improperly monitored tapped Taylor’s phone, WLKY reports.
On the same day Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker, who was with her on the night of the deadly police raid, filed a federal lawsuit accusing the LMPD of violating his constitutional rights. Prior to Taylor’s death anniversary, a judge signed an order to permanently close a criminal case filed against Walker for shooting one of the officers involved in the raid. Walker, a registered gun owner, contends that he acted in self-defense on the night Taylor was killed.
The protests followed a lively week that included a mobile billboard in Louisville emblazoned with a tweet from Taylor where she shared her hopes of one day having a child. “My daughter hasn’t even been conceived but she has a name already lol…that’s how ready I am,” she tweeted in 2018.
Activists demanded on Thursday for Commonwealth Attorney Tom Wine to open a new investigation into the officers involved in Taylor’s death and move forward with prosecuting them. Wine initially recused himself from the case because his office was prosecuting Walker. But after Walker’s charges were permanently dropped, the activists said Wine no longer has the conflict of interest that he claimed existed.
Keep reading to find some images from protests around the country that marked the anniversary of Breonna Tayor’s death.
Image source: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Written By Charise Frazier
‘We Still Fighting’: Photos Of Protests Marking
1-Year Anniversary Of Breonna Taylor’s Death
From the River to the Sea: Palestinians Continue to Resist Colonial Occupation and Ethnic Cleansing
In May and June of 2021, the Israeli state, in collusion with Zionist settler vigilante groups, unleashed a renewed reign of terror on Palestinian land and life. In response, Palestinians from across historic Palestine rose up in what has now become known as the Unity Intifada (Uprising). The Uprisings have sparked international attention and triggered a renewal of worldwide solidarity for justice and freedom in and for Palestine. Joined by their co-strugglers across the world, Palestinians have made it clear that they are prepared to stand their ground, and fight life and limb, for their rights and freedom. They have articulated time and again that the current crisis is not an anomaly but a part of the ongoing Nakba (catastrophe): it is bound up with seventy-three years of Israeli settler-colonialism, ethnic cleansing campaigns, racialized military occupation, and siege.
The Events that Led to the Unity Intifada
The prolonged crisis unfolding in Palestine was reignited in early May 2021 when Israel began gearing up to forcibly expel Palestinians from the Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah did not back down and remained steadfast in their homes while protesting against their impending expulsion. They were met with ruthless attacks by state security and settler forces.
Israeli security forces also barred Palestinians from access to Jerusalem’s old city. On May 7th, Israeli forces stormed the Al-Aqsa Compound and opened live ammunition against Palestinian worshippers in the Al-Aqsa mosque during one of the holiest days of the month of Ramadan. Using tear gas, stun grenades, steel-bullets coated in rubber, and skunk water, the Israeli state, acting jointly with settler mobs, beat, brutalized and severely injured hundreds of Palestinians across Jerusalem and in one of their most sacred sites and cities.
The confrontations in Jerusalem set off an uptick in Palestinian protest across historic Palestine and was met with brutal state suppression and settler mob lynchings. This series of events quickly escalated into an all-out eleven-day Israeli airstrike assault on the Gaza Strip which took the lives of 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, and resulted in the injury of over 6,000 and the displacement of over 100,000 people. The attack also resulted in the destruction of critical infrastructure in the Gaza Strip including media buildings and the only COVID-19 testing center.
On May 15th, Palestinians across the world commemorated the 73rd anniversary of the 1948 Nakba. Just a few days later, another massive day of action took place when on May 18th, Palestinians called for a general strike across every city, town, refugee camp, and neighborhood in historic Palestine. Palestinians in the West Bank, alongside their counterparts in Jerusalem, Gaza and 1948 Palestine (Lands Officially referred to as Israel) rose up and were met with targeted Israeli sniper fire, mass arrests, beatings, and extra-judicial style killings.
On May 21st, a ceasefire was reached between Israel and Hamas which temporally ended the assault on Gaza. Just a few hours later, Israeli security forces stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque again, opening fire on worshippers who had gathered to celebrate the ceasefire. In the following days, Israel raided hundreds of homes across historic Palestine in a mass arrest campaign called “Operation Law and Order.” Over 2000 Palestinians have been arrested and detained for protesting Israeli state and settler aggression since early May.
Throughout the month of June, Palestinian protests have persisted across historic Palestine, from the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea. In the West Bank, Jerusalem and many parts of historic Palestine, these protests are against impending Israeli expulsion ordinances, home demolition orders, evacuation and resettlement plans. Protestors have been met with Israeli state violence, including in the Nablus town of Beita where five Palestinians were killed on June 11th, 2021. The recent rounds of Israeli violence against Palestinians is part and parcel of an
An Ongoing Nakba: Resisting Erasure and Captivity
For a number of reasons, the struggle in Sheikh Jarrah struck a nerve with Palestinians everywhere, triggering an uprising across every part of historic Palestine and the Diaspora. For one, the theft of Sheikh Jarrah is accompanied by efforts to forcibly expel Palestinians from many other areas in historic Palestine. Silwan for example, also faces over 1500 impending expulsions with 13 home home demolition orders that could threaten the forced removal of 80 families in the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood. Palestinians of Beita, a town in Nablus, are also threatened with forced displacement: in the last month alone, 4 settler RV’s have been converted to 40 facilities on Mount Sabih. Lifta is also confronted with impending destruction and the building of residential units restricted for Jewish settlers. New settlements and outposts are also being built in Bethlehem, North Jericho and Aghwar, and existing settlements are being expanded in South Nablus and Hebron. Palestinian land is also being annexed to connect existing settlements, across the West Bank, which would permanently parcel Palestinian geographies and communities in preparation for Zionist ambitions to ethnically cleanse all of Palestine and incorporate these lands into the Israeli state.
Tulsa Race Massacre Commission Boots Oklahoma Governor For Signing Racist Legislation
The response to the state's new anti-Critical Race Theory law came ahead of the Tulsa race massacre centennial.
Image source: Mati Milstein/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Written By Loubna Qutami
Israeli settler-colonial designs are attempting to continue emptying Jerusalem and the West Bank of its Palestinian population and these policies were ultimately greenlighted by the Trump administration’s so-called Deal of the Century which has resulted in Israel building over 9000 new settler homes in the last year. However, even Palestinians who are technically citizens of the Israeli state, continue to face expulsion from their homes. For example, 400 Palestinians in Yaffa, 100,000 Palestinians in Al-Naqab, and scores of Palestinians in Umm al-Fahm are threatened with forced displacement.
Second, Sheikh Jarrah is emblematic of every city in historic Palestine where Palestinians were once driven out of their homes. Nearly 500 Palestinian cities, towns, and villages were shorn to rubble during the 1948 Nakba. Scores more were permanently annexed by the newfound Israeli state. Nearly 1 million Palestinians were driven out of their homes then, most of whom were never allowed to return to Palestine. Since then, nearly 85% of historic Palestine has been stolen by the Israeli state and its exclusive claims to it. Even the current residents of Sheikh Jarrah are Palestinian refugees and their descendants who were displaced during the events of 1948 and who sought refuge in the town in 1956. The struggle of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah resonated with Palestinians across the homeland and Diaspora precisely because it embodies an enduring collective experience of homelessness, dispossession, refugeehood, and militarized policing of Palestinian land, bodies and livelihood since the 1948 Nakba.
A new generation of Palestinians continue the fight for the right to stay in their homes. Take for example, Mohammed and Muna al-Kurd, twins from Sheikh Jarrah who took to the streets and social media in protest and to deepen worldwide awareness about the Israeli courts plans to seize Palestinian homes, move settlers into them, and forcibly expel 550 Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. Born and raised in the neighborhood, the al-Kurd twins have been involved in the struggle to secure their families’ right to stay in their homes since they were children, building upon the legacy of elders in their own family and community including their grandmother Rifqa al-Kurd, who fought for the residents of Sheikh Jarrah until her last breath at the age of 103. Their role as advocates for Sheikh Jarrah’s families represents the intergenerational character of the Palestinian struggle against forced expulsion and militarized occupation, where new generations are picking up
where their parents and grandparents left off in the broader struggle for freedom
This intergenerational experience of Nakba has also fortified a historical continuum of steadfastness, perseverance and resistance. Sheikh Jarrah is emblematic not only of the ongoing Nakba but of the tenacity of Palestinians to continue fighting, seventy-three years after their initial dispersal. But such resistance also comes with fatal consequences. The devastation the recent Israeli attacks have had on the Gaza Strip comes on the heels of a 15-year internationally condemned blockade which has had colossal effects. Gaza is currently one of the most densely populated places on earth, often referred to as an open air prison, and reports some of the highest rates of poverty, unemployment (82%), disability and suicide in the world. Over the last two decades, Israel has launched over 40 assaults on the Gaza Strip, four of which (2009, 2012, 2014, and 2021) included massive airstrike assaults which killed thousands and injured and displaced hundreds of thousands. Still reeling from the most recent act of Israeli aggression, Palestinians in Gaza are still counting and mourning their dead and only beginning to grieve, yet again.
Like the residents of Sheikh Jarrah, the overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are those who were displaced from other parts of Palestine during the 1948 Nakba. In 2018, they rose up as part of a series of weekly border non-violent protests called the Great March of Return asserting their desires to return to their original homes from which their families were displaced. They were met with targeted sniper fire which used bone-shattering shrapnel. Over 200 Palestinians were slaughtered and thousands severely injured. Yet the 2018 Great March of Return continues to serve as a reminder that the experience of militarized occupation, siege, and captivity remains linked to ethnic cleansing and dispossession campaigns. Both erasure and captivity have worked co-constitutively to subject Palestinians to brute force by the Israeli colonial apparatus.
The events of the last two months illustrate that, while Palestinian communities across historic Palestine (Gaza Strip, 1948 Palestine, Jerusalem, the West Bank, and in exile) experience systemic oppression distinctly, they are all enduring ongoing manifestations of Nakba. While a ceasefire has been reached in Gaza, it cannot serve as a resolution to the ongoing injury Palestinians have been made to bare and the continued expulsions that are severing Palestinian attachments to their land, history, people and sociality. For these reasons, Palestinians continue to rise up and call on lovers of freedom everywhere to join them.
The Unity Intifada: A Historical Moment
Though Palestinians have continued to resist ethnic cleansing and colonial occupation for over seven decades, a few distinct characteristics of the current uprisings must be noted. First and foremost, the uprisings are taking place across every part of historic Palestine, demonstrating that the Israeli colonial architecture which aims to fragment Palestinian lands and communities from each other has
not succeeded. What began in Jerusalem sent scorching vibrations throughout the historic land of Palestine. Palestinians joined actions everywhere, demonstrating that Palestine remains one indivisible territorial unit and that Palestinians belong to a Palestinian sociality even if separated by colonially erected physical borders and legal statuses. The last time we have witnessed an uprising of such proportions was during the 1936 General Strikes in which Palestinians protested Zionist labor alienation and land appropriation policies and impending Zionist aspirations
Second, the uprisings demonstrate a continuum of Palestinian resistance across generations. Drawing on the legacies of former generations, a new generation of Palestinian youth have assumed their place in the historical struggle to realize freedom of land and people.
Third, while Palestinian political parties have been imbued in a 15-year political split in national unity, the current uprisings suggest that factionalist discord will not stifle cooperation in the realization of collective aspirations for liberation. Though the official Palestinian political establishment in the West Bank has proven their increasing irrelevance during this period, the uprisings waged and engaged by everyday peoples and movements, especially through the leadership of women, illustrates the popular character of the Palestinian struggle and the power of the grassroots in realizing a new decolonial future. Whether the popular character of the uprisings will be sustained is an important question to many. However, it is
clear that a renewed spirit of resilience and resistance has overcome Palestinians who are tired of extending patience as their land continues to be stolen, and as they live under the most dire conditions of occupation. Palestinians are restoring
their presence and perseverance as guardians of life and land and agents of
Fourth, the struggle of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and in particular in Jerusalem’s old city, set off a surge of protest among Palestinian citizens of the settler state. These are Palestinians (and their descendants) who succeeded in remaining on the land
An immediate end to home expulsions of Palestinians in across historic Palestine including in Jerusalem, the West Bank and 1948 Lands
An immediate end to the military occupation of the West Bank and the removal of all colonial architecture including settlements, checkpoints, the apartheid wall, security outposts, roadblocks, surveillance towers, and more
An immediate end to all wars on the Gaza Strip and a lifting of the blockade by land, sea, and sky
Ending the mass arrests, interrogations, and physical, psychological and sexual torture of Palestinian detainees and prisoners and realizing their immediate release
An end to all apartheid laws and the guarantee of full rights and freedom for Palestinian citizens of 1948 lands.
The realization of the right of return for Palestine’s 5M refugees who still reside in refugee camps scattered throughout the region in accordance with UN resolution 194
Ending the siege on Palestinian narratives by decriminalizing free speech and academic freedom which engages critical perspectives on the struggle for justice in Palestine
Ending US military, political, and economic aid to Israel
Ways to Support the Palestinian Liberation Struggle
There are many ways to uplift and/or partake in the Palestinian struggle for liberation. Learn more by reviewing the Palestinian Feminist Collective’s, “Freedom Withing Reach: Palestine Action Toolkit.”
during the 1948 Nakba, or were internally displaced, within the boundaries of what is now referred to as Israel. Comprising nearly 20% of the Israeli state’s population, Palestinians continue to be subjected to racist state repression legalized by over 65 apartheid laws which relegate them to second-class citizenship. This community of Palestinians rose up in defense of Jerusalem but also to assert their rights and belonging to the collective Palestinian body politic, rejecting the imposition of the settler-colonial apparatus’ upon them and their lands, and affirming a commitment not to rights-based integration into settler-colonial-designs but to decolonial futurities.
Fifth, the Uprising in Palestine has reignited a worldwide solidarity movement of historical proportions among Palestinians of exile and their co-strugglers. Protestors marched to and through the borders from neighboring countries, Jordan and Lebanon. Marches and demonstrations commenced throughout the region, across every corner of the world and have been sustained since the Uprising erupted. While Palestinians and their co-strugglers, have been censored by governments, social media tech companies, and both public and private institutions, more people are speaking out against the injustice unfolding in Palestine, the censorship of Palestinian narratives, and calling for international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel.
Palestinian-Black Joint Struggle:
Throughout history Palestinian and Black communities have long exemplified mutual forms of reciprocal solidarity with one another. Through exchanges of literature, poetry, feminist solidarities, lessons on movement building, and philosophies, theories and strategies of liberation, the two communities have long attested to the interdependence of their two struggles. Part of these solidarities were formed through the revolutionary ethos that molded the 1960’s and global struggles against racism, imperialism, and capitalism which both Palestinians and Black revolutionaries were centrally a part of.
In the recent decade, we have witnessed a renewal of Black-Palestinian solidarity, in part due to the urgency of both causes, where both Palestinian and Black life have become more precarious as targets of racist state and colonial violence.
On May 21st, a ceasefire was reached between Israel and Hamas which temporally ended the assault on Gaza. Just a few hours later, Israeli security forces stormed
the Al-Aqsa mosque again, opening fire on worshippers who had gathered to celebrate the ceasefire. In the following days, Israel raided hundreds of homes across historic Palestine in a mass arrest campaign called “Operation Law and Order.” Under this current instantiation of the ongoing Nakba, nearly 2000 Palestinians have been arrested and detained for protesting Israeli state and settler aggression since early May.
On May 15th, Palestinians across the world commemorated the 73rd anniversary of the 1948 Nakba. Just a few days later, another massive day of action took place when on May 18th, Palestinians called for a general strike across every city, town, refugee camp, and neighborhood in historic Palestine. Palestinians in the West Bank, alongside their counterparts in Jerusalem, Gaza and 1948 Palestine (Lands Officially referred to as Israel) rose up and were met with targeted Israeli sniper fire, mass arrests, beatings, and extra-judicial style killings.
An Ongoing Nakba: Resisting Erasure and Captivity
A new generation of Palestinians continue the fight for the right to stay in their homes. Take for example, Mohammed and Muna al-Kurd, twins from Sheikh Jarrah who took to the streets and social media in protest and to deepen worldwide awareness about the Israeli courts’ plans to seize Palestinian homes and move settlers into them. Born and raised in the neighborhood, the al-Kurd twins have been involved in the struggle to secure their families’ right to stay in their homes since they were children, building upon the legacy of elders in their own family and community including their grandmother Rifqa al-Kurd, who fought for the residents of Sheikh Jarrah until her last breath at the age 103. Their role as advocates for Sheikh Jarrah’s families represents the intergenerational character of the Palestinian struggle against forced expulsion and militarized occupation, where new generations are picking up where their parents and grandparents left off in the broader struggle for freedom in Palestine.
For a number of reasons, the struggle in Sheikh Jarrah struck a nerve with Palestinians everywhere, triggering an uprising across every part of historic Palestine and the Diaspora. For one, the theft of Sheikh Jarrah is accompanied by efforts to forcibly expel Palestinians from other Jerusalem neighborhoods. Silwan for example, also faces over 1000 impending expulsions and the remaining Palestinian families in Lifta are also confronted with the looming threat of displacement. New iterations of Israeli settler-colonial designs are attempting to continue emptying Jerusalem of its Palestinian population and such ambitions were ultimately greenlighted by the Trump administration’s so-called Deal of the Century.
Second, Sheikh Jarrah is emblematic of every city in historic Palestine where Palestinians were once driven out of their homes. Nearly 500 Palestinian cities, towns, and villages were shorn to rubble during the 1948 Nakba. Scores more were permanently annexed by the newfound Israeli state. Nearly 1 million Palestinians were driven out of their homes then, most of whom were never allowed to return to Palestine. Since then, nearly 85% of historic Palestine has been stolen by the Israeli state and its exclusive claims to it. The struggle of the residents of Sheikh Jarrah resonated with Palestinians across the homeland and Diaspora precisely because it embodies an enduring collective experience of homelessness, dispossession, refugeehood, and militarized policing of Palestinian land, bodies and livelihood since the 1948 Nakba.
It was not only Sheikh Jarrah that catalyzed a renewed spirit of collective resistance. The devastation the recent attacks have had on the Gaza Strip comes on the heels of a 15-year internationally condemned blockade which has had colossal effects. Gaza is currently one of the most densely populated places on earth, often referred to as an open air prison, and reports some of the highest rates of poverty, unemployment (82%), disability and suicide in the world. Over the last two decades, Israel has launched over 40 assaults on the Gaza Strip, four of which (2009, 2012, 2014, and 2021) included massive airstrike assaults which killed thousands and injured and displaced hundreds of thousands. Still reeling from the most recent act of Israeli aggression, Palestinians in Gaza are still counting and mourning their dead and only beginning to grieve, yet again.
The overwhelming majority of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are those who were displaced from other parts of Palestine during the 1948 Nakba. In 2018, they rose up as part of a series of weekly border non-violent protests called the Great March of Return asserting their desires to return to their original homes from which their families were displaced. They were met with targeted sniper fire which used bone-shattering shrapnel. Over 200 Palestinians were slaughtered and thousands severely injured. Yet the 2018 Great March of Return continues to serve as a reminder that the experience of militarized occupation, siege, and captivity remains linked to ethnic cleansing and dispossession campaigns. Both erasure and captivity have worked co-constitutively to subject Palestinians to brute force by the Israeli colonial apparatus.
Fourth, the struggle of Palestinians in Jerusalem, and in particular in Jerusalem’s old city, set off a surge of protest among Palestinian citizens of the settler state. These are Palestinians (and their descendants) who succeeded in remaining on the land during the 1948 Nakba, or were internally displaced, within the boundaries of what is now referred to as Israel. Comprising nearly 20% of the Israeli state’s population, Palestinians continue to be subjected to racist state repression legalized by over 65 apartheid laws which relegate them to second-class citizenship. This community of Palestinians rose up in defense of Jerusalem but also to assert their rights and belonging to the collective Palestinian body politic, rejecting the settler-colonial apparatus’ imposition upon them and their lands, and affirming a commitment not to rights-based integration into settler-colonial-designs but to decolonial futurities.
Fifth, the Uprising in Palestine has reignited a worldwide solidarity movement of historical proportions among Palestinians of exile and their co-strugglers. Protestors marched to and through the borders from neighboring countries, Jordan and Lebanon. Marches and demonstrations commenced throughout the region, and across every corner of the world and have been sustained since the Uprising erupted. While Palestinians and their co-strugglers, have been censored by governments, social media tech companies, and both public and private institutions, more people are speaking out against the injustice unfolding in Palestine, the censorship of Palestinian narratives, and calling for international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel.
Palestinian-Black Joint Struggle:
Throughout history Palestinian and Black communities have long exemplified mutual forms of reciprocal solidarity with one another. Through exchanges of literature, poetry, feminist solidarities, lessons on movement building, and philosophies, theories and strategies of liberation, the two communities have long attested to the interdependence of their two struggles. Part of these solidarities were formed through the revolutionary ethos that molded the 1960s and global struggles against racism, imperialism, and capitalism which both Palestinians and Black revolutionaries were centrally a part of.
This renewal has also grown as collaboration in the arena of security tactics, weapons development, military training, crowd-control techniques, surveillance systems, and prison and policing regimes are increasingly shared between the US and Israel.
Confronting systemic oppression while recognizing crucial distinctions of experience and context has been of the utmost concern for Palestinian and Black organizers. Yet recognitions that struggles might not always be analogous has not barred these communities from recognizing one another’s pain and grief and taking action in a joint-struggle framework that allows them to combat the systems causing harm to both peoples.
These bonds of solidarity have made it so that Black liberation movements were among the first who outspokenly condemned the most recent round of Israeli killing sprees. Though Black organizers have also been the subjects of brutal Zionist repression, silencing and censorship campaigns, they have not faltered and have stayed true to their principles on Palestine just as Palestinians remain committed to realizing the complete end of anti-Black racist state violence—especially through policing and carceral regimes--endemic in this country since the onset.
Many of us Palestinians also know that we owe a great deal of debt and gratitude to Black revolutionaries who have continued to wage revolutionary struggle under conditions of extreme duress. It is their tenacity in the US that has made possible a new moment of racial reckoning, one that is finally allowing for a different and more honest appraisal of the Palestinian struggle.
What Palestinians Are Demanding
Palestinians have long made known that their struggle is not motivated by hate or revenge but rather by a profound hunger for justice, deep senses of hope and dignity, and love of life, land and liberation. Today, Palestinians are seeking to once and for all end the ongoing Nakba and to attain full freedom as they build out their decolonial future. This includes the following demands:
The 4th Annual Black Maternal Health Week is a yearly campaign founded by the Black Mamas Matter Alliance. It was founded in response to institutions that have codified laws to segregate, marginalize, and disinvest in the health and wellbeing of birthing people, especially Black and Indigenous birthing people.
The COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately impacts Black and Indigenous people, following the same pattern of Black and Indigenous maternal mortality rates. It is well known that US policy choices—from lactation, to paid leave, to cancer treatments, to abortion, to global extraction—have made the United States the most dangerous place in the industrialized world to have a baby or to contract COVID. This is why the nation needs reproductive justice now and why the White House needs to urgently prioritize the most vulnerable birthing people in this country.
In 1994, twelve Black women coined the term “Reproductive Justice,” which consists of three declarations.
1. Every human has the right to decide if and when they will become pregnant, and the right to determine the conditions under which they will birth.
2. Every person has the right to decide that they will not become pregnant or have a baby, meaning that options for preventing or ending pregnancy are accessible and available.
3. Individuals have the right to parent their children with dignity, with the necessary social support, and in safe, healthy communities without fear of violence from individuals or the government. Reproductive Justice also implies that individuals have the right to disassociate sex from reproduction, as healthy sexuality and pleasure are essential components in a whole and full human experience.
This comprehensive framework is aligned with current efforts of the Biden-Harris Administration to root out systemic racism and implement an equitable COVID Response, due to the GPC mission to advance gender equality and equity in both domestic and foreign policy development and implementation. Reproductive Justice advocates, activists and practitioners have proposed a bold, Black women led, approach to operationalize reproductive justice in the White House: Establish the Office of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Well-Being (OSRHW).
While sexual and reproductive health is a critical piece of overall health for many people, public policy often considers it in a vacuum, without integrating the multiple contextual factors impacting individuals’ lives. Federal policies and programs are typically directed toward addressing one “category” of issues and services. For example, traditional reproductive health services like contraception, fertility care, and full-spectrum pregnancy-related care, are often addressed separately from other health services like maternal and infant health, mental health, and substance use, and are further separated from broader supports like quality childcare, comprehensive paid family leave, and housing.
This means individuals often have to receive support from multiple places and providers. By reframing policy design to start with sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing we can integrate health equity and the social supports that ensure good public health, such as housing, employment and educational attainment. Reproductive Justice is the foundation of wellbeing in all aspects of individuals’ lives.
Improving access to and the quality of sexual and reproductive health services and supports has the power to increase bodily autonomy for all people, including those whose autonomy has historically been restricted, particularly Black and Indigenous people. Yet as with COVID-19, access to these services and supports depends heavily on where a person lives, how much money they make, and the extent to which discrimination impedes their ability to act on their reproductive decisions.
At the federal level, the work of multiple agencies affects sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing, yet these efforts are often siloed or have disserved those they are meant to serve. For example, the primary funders of contraceptive care within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), and the Office of Population Affairs (OPA) – do not have a single definition of “contraception” or approach to funding contraceptive coverage. In the absence of federally defined standards, the range of products and services covered varies by state and by service site, leading to out-of-pocket costs, less client choice in where to get care and what types of contraception to choose from, and persistent inequities in access and health outcomes. Foundational changes to rebuild and maximize existing programs like Title X and Medicaid are part of the new administration’s platform, and have been outlined in detail in the Blueprint for Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice.
We applaud the White House for taking the first step by establishing the Gender Policy Council. Still, we know that when reproductive health is included in broader gender policy, it is not expansive enough to address the pressing needs of historically marginalized communities. A dedicated leadership body like OSRHW within the White House is necessary to drive focused change, set direction, and hold federal departments accountable for promoting sexual and reproductive health and wellbeing through a human rights, gender, and racial equity lens. OSRHW’s approach moves the rebuilding work forward by reframing the conversation—by reconsidering the frameworks that guide us, the questions we ask, and how we measure, interpret, and share results.
The nation and the White House must signal to the world that they explicitly acknowledge and redress the history and present impact of racism and reproductive coercion—and dedicate resources to dismantle all barriers to full reproductive autonomy.
The Biden-Harris Administration has acknowledged that health is a right. Reproductive Justice is a pathway to codifying that right for all.
Written By Joia Crear-Perry MD, Monica R. McLemore PhD, MPH, RN, FAAN, Jamie Hart, PhD, MPH
Decolonial Futures: The Potential Power of the Palestinian Unity Intifada
Written By Anoa Changa
Funerals like Ma'Khia Bryant's have become live-streamed moments that are part of the choreography of state murders and modern day lynchings of Black bodies.
Last month Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old former foster youth from Columbus, Ohio, became just one of 42 Black children killed by police over the last six years, according to data compiled by the Washington Post. Following her death, a number of academics and commentators tried to explain why she and other Black youth are too frequently abused or killed by police.
One popular explanation for the disproportionate violence is “adultification bias”: Black boys and girls are not seen as children and are denied the same privileges and protections guaranteed to white children.
A New York Times report noted that in media coverage, Bryant was consistently referred to as a woman. Descriptions of her plus-size physiognomy suggested that she presented an uncontrollable threat and had to be contained with lethal force. Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther was criticized for calling her a “young woman.”
Brittney Cooper, an Africana studies professor at Rutgers University, said in an interview on MSNBC, “The way that she has been talked about — because she is a big girl — people see her as the aggressor. They don’t see her humanity. They have adultified her.”
Dr. Jamilia Blake, a psychology professor at Texas A&M and co-author of a 2017 popular report on the erasure of Black girlhood, told the New York Times that Black girls are not seen as innocent, are not afforded the ability to make mistakes or the benefit of doubt, and adultification bias may be driving the severity of harsh punitive responses against them by teachers, mental health providers and law enforcement.
“How it looks in school is this general perception of Black girls’ behavior being very volitional and menacing, and even more so if they voice their concerns and raise awareness — everything that they do is kind of seen as problematic. They are constantly monitored, they receive more severe disciplinary actions, and they aren’t even able to be sad or cry,” Blake said.
Monique Morris, president and chief executive of Grantmakers for Girls of Color and author of the book “Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in School,” echoed Blake by calling adultification age compression – “a way to erase the normal adolescent behavior and development that we have come to associate with young people, and it heightens our propensity to respond to young people as if they’re fully developed adults — referring to girls as women, not allowing them to make mistakes, even how we define their responses to conditions.”
We can’t say that Black people are infantilized in order to set them up for violence, but then claim that Black children are adultified. It’s an unnecessary step.
Adultification bias asserts that childhood is a privileged and protected category which is denied to Black youth because of racism. Only white youth are allowed to be children. Black youth are treated more like adults by law enforcement, which is supposed to explain the denial of innocence and protection.
But the adultification thesis gets things backwards, in part because it relies too heavily on popular representations of protected “childhood innocence” rather than on the actual histories and experiences of children. In reality, the history of childhood in the west is a dark and brutal story of mistreatment, sexualization, and murder. Even when children were viewed as “innocent” it was a curse. For, just as women have been historically venerated in art as nurturing mothers or guardians of virtue while at the same time being subject to reproductive oppression and gendered violence so, too, has the celebration of childhood innocence in art and culture obscured that childhood is an exceedingly unsafe and violent phase of life, even today.
Childhood is conceptualized in law and politics as a state of irrationality – the child lacks reason and is therefore viewed as incapable of self-governing. To “act like a child” no matter what your age is to act in a lawless manner. If allowed to run wild, childlike behavior threatens to destabilize society. The child’s state of irrationality means we do not need their consent, which is why children experience daily management and regimentation of their bodies at home and in the school. Current U.S. law even allows parents and sometimes teachers to physically strike, constrain, and control children’s bodies to produce the pain and fear necessary to secure obedience. If an adult treated another adult like we are allowed to treat children, they could be charged with intimidation, assault, or unlawful confinement. The law assumes that until proven otherwise rational adults will normally choose to obey the rules. It is this possibility of choice that affords adults the legal presumption of innocence and, so, to be treated like an adult is to experience the fullest protection of the law.
In the American racial order, it is only white adults and to some extent their children who are considered capable of rational self-governing, the hallmark of civilized maturity. Beginning in the 19th century, the presumption of innocence historically reserved for white adults was gradually extended to white youth, not because they are viewed as children, but because they are viewed as quasi-adults and proto-citizens – the future of whiteness. When white youth are guilty of breaking the rules, their transgressions are interpreted as clumsy attempts to cultivate reason through play or as learning through the testing of boundaries. Juvenile justice was established in America to protect these white youth from the full consequences of whatever foolish mistakes they might make on the way to becoming a mature citizen.
In short, the legal system is designed to afford white adults and youth who act like children the opportunity to become mature responsible citizens. Black adults and youth, on the other hand, are considered perpetual children rather than adults or proto-citizens and are therefore viewed in the eyes of the law as a perpetual criminal threat. Unlike white youth who are funneled into the rehabilitative juvenile justice system, Black youth are more likely to face the full consequences of their transgressions of law and order.
In a white-supremacist society, there can be no mature adult Black people. They are always children. And so, Black youth are considered the “children of children,” doubly doomed by their categorization as biological children as well as offspring of an inferior race existing in a permanent condition of cultural infancy, lawlessness and criminality, for whom coercive discipline and death are law’s only recourse.
To understand violence against Black youth we must recall that slavery was essentially a denial of Black adulthood. As Frederick Douglass observed in “My Bondage and My Freedom” (1855), white youth were permitted to graduate into citizens, leaving behind the degraded condition of youth. Writing on the maturing of Tommy, his childhood companion and master, Douglass observed: “He could grow and become a MAN; I could grow, though I could not become a man, but must remain, all my life, a minor – a mere boy.” Here, Douglass is articulating the deep logic of white supremacy: the dehumanization and enslavement of Black people through their designation as permanent children. Even self-described “benevolent” slave-owners invoked the childlike “innocence” of the Black race to justify the slave’s condition of permanent dependence.
Douglass’s insight demonstrates that if infantilization already sets Black people up for violence, then adultification would have the opposite effect of undoing the infantilization and liberating Black people. If white supremacy is an attempt to undo the view that Black people can be adults, at least in potential, what, then, would be the point of adultifying young Black people?
Image source: Scott Olson / Getty
Written By Stacey Patton and Toby Rollo
As they grow into physical maturity, Black people, especially Black men, are viewed as overgrown children, as a monstrous combination of irrationality and physical strength. It’s not much better for Black girls. Historically, young girls have been targets of sexual objectification not through their conceptualization as full-grown women but precisely because they are young girls who are fetishized for their innocence and purity. The sexualization of Black girls, attributed to “adultification” in studies such as Girlhood Interrupted, has more to do with the enduring legacy of child sexual objectification and abuse in western culture than girls being misconstrued as grown women.
So why, then, are Black boys and girls so often described as adult men and women? Here we encounter another insidious feature of white supremacy.
To begin, studies such as “The Essence of Innocence,” which purport to verify the adultification thesis with respect to Black boys, make crucial methodological errors, one of which is taking the testimony of adults (especially white police officers) at face value. The study presented university students and police officers with pictures of boys of different races who were already “suspected” of different crimes and asked participants to estimate the age and “innocence” of these children. Accepting the age and innocence estimates reported by participants on faith, the authors purport to confirm that participants perceive Black children to be older and less innocent than white children.
These conclusions suffer from numerous complications. The study fails to consider how the participants’ responses would be skewed by the absurdity of attributing to a ten-year-old child the mental and physical competence required to perpetrate a felony such as rape. It is one thing to believe that a toddler lacks self-regulation and requires strict coercive correction. It is quite another for a participant to claim that a child possesses the wherewithal to distribute narcotics or plan and execute an armed carjacking. Participants, therefore, have strong incentives to inflate the perceived age of the children to avoid attributing absurd powers to children. On the other hand, it would be equally awkward for participants to claim that they perceive a 30-year-old man in the image of a pre-pubescent boy’s face. And so, it comes as no surprise that almost all children in such studies, irrespective of race, are identified as slightly older than they actually are (virtually all children are adultified), and yet almost no children are reported to be adults.
When police take part in such studies, as when they are compelled to defend their publicized arrests or killing of Black children, it should come as no surprise that they, too, hyper-inflate the perceived threat so as to avoid absurdity. One means of misrepresenting the danger a child poses is to claim that the victim appeared to be armed. Black communities know better than to trust this kind of statement. Another means of inflating the threat is to claim that the person appeared to have the size and strength of an adult. Advocates of the adultification thesis seem strangely willing to accept this claim on faith rather than interrogate it as yet another strategic account. The misrepresenting of age, size, and armed status in police reporting is not a function of some conscious or unconscious process of “adultification” but, rather, reflects the desire to depict the Black child as an even greater threat than they already pose by virtue of being irrational.
In the end, the adultification thesis is both mistaken and a counter-productive trap, for it perpetuates the myth of protected childhood and invites Black communities to seek white protections for Black bodies. If anything, categorizing Black youth as “children,” when all Black people are already considered and treated like perpetual children, simply recapitulates the violent logic of slavery that denies the protections of adulthood.
Black children are not killed because police fail to recognize them as children. They are killed because they are Black. They are and have always been a threat to the continuity of white supremacy and treated as enemy combatants in the same brutal manner as their elders. Whether they are considered children or adults is irrelevant. Childhood will never save Black youth in a white supremacist society.
Statistically speaking, most violence experienced by Black youth is perpetrated not by police but by their parents or guardians. Between 2013 and 2018, 41 Black children were killed by police officers, according to data compiled by the Washington Post. During that same time period, according to the Children’s Bureau’s annual reports, 2,389 Black children were killed as a result of maltreatment by their parent(s) or guardian(s). And here is the tragic irony: the deadly parental violence is often explicitly rationalized on the grounds that Black children require harsh physical and emotional coercion to avoid provoking police.
How, then, do we protect Black children, when the designation of childhood innocence itself invokes the spectre of slavery and provokes so much coercion and violence in white society? Resistance can only take the form of, first, rejecting the white supremacist hierarchy which privileges and protects adults over children and, second, by asserting a radical Black challenge to white conceptions of childhood.
There Is No Country For Black Girls Like Ma’Khia Bryant
Ma'Khia Bryant's story is being spun by a country which was never built to love Black women in the first place.
There is no perfect way to be Black, let alone a Black woman or girl child in this world.
The accusations, vitriol, and justifications regarding the murder of 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant proved that in more ways than one ever since body camera footage was released detailing her last moments.
Although Black women account for 13 percent of the women population in the U.S., they make up 20 percent of the women fatally shot by the police, and 28 percent of unarmed killings according to a recent report by The Washington Post. Much of this has to do with how society is socialized to perceive Black women, which attributes to the violence evoked against us.
Ma’Khia was also a plus-sized Black girl. Examining the ways fatphobia, rooted in anti-Blackness, undervalues the humanity of Black women and girls is crucial to understanding the rebukes on Ma’Khia’s life. Black, fat bodies are often feared and stigmatized and felt less deserving of love and human decency. It plays out in how Ma’Khia’s story is told with every damning tweet.
Ma’Khia lived in foster care and was an agent of a state that sanctioned her death.
With much left to unpack in the guilty Derek Chauvin verdict over the murder of George Floyd, Ma’Khia’s death details exactly how the pendulum swings for Black women and girls. There is adoration and gluttony for our service to the collective.
Then comes the rage and hate.
Hours before Ma’Khia was fatally shot, Darnella Frazier, who was just 17-years old when she filmed Floyd’s murder, received praise and accolades over a deeply triggering decision to film Chauvin as he knelt on Floyd’s neck. We raved at how beautiful Amanda Gorman was when she recited her breathtaking poem, “The Hill We Climb,” at President Joe Biden‘s inauguration. We said it was important to give Stacey Abrams her flowers for forging a new path in American democracy.
In the same breath, we will justify the abhorrent murder of a 16-year-old child who was clearly in the midst of a crisis. If you’ve never had to fight for your safety, or question your safety, consider yourself privileged.
The officer who fired the fatal shot was identified as Nicholas Reardon, an expert marksman and an active U.S. Air National Guardsman, according to The Daily Beast. Reardon was placed on administrative leave after the shooting and is also reportedly the son of retired Sergeant Edward “Ted” Reardon, who served 32-years with the Columbus Police Department.
In the bodycam footage of Ma’Khia’s death, a bystander yells, “She’s a f***ing kid, man! Damn, are you stupid?” after Reardon fires his gun. It is the first time that her youth is acknowledged and it comes as she lies on the pavement undoubtedly taking her last breaths.
In that moment, an expert marksman shot to kill instead of using his knowledge to disarm.
With only the body cam footage, we are offered one narrative on Ma’Khia’s short life which aligns with stereotypes and tropes assigned to Black women as soon as they are on this side of the womb. She was angry and violent. She lunged at two people with a knife attempting to murder them in cold blood. She was deviant, a trouble maker, acting “too grown” for her age.
We only reserve nuance for white teens and young adults who choose to evoke violence on persons praying, protesting, enjoying a spa day, or enjoying a hotel stay with their parents.
These call-outs, whether they are inferred or implied go directly against the ways in which the people who loved her and knew her best, described her.
On Wednesday, Ma’Khia’s foster sister captioned a tweet of her dancing which read, “This is my foster sister Ma’Khia[.] I want her to be remembered as the sweet full of life young girl she was, not as what people are painting her out to be. I refuse for her to be painted as anything but the amazing girl she was.”
On several fronts, local Columbus authorities and the Columbus Police Department failed to present a clear overview of what transpired when Ma’Khia was killed. In summarizing Ma’Khia’s death, Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther called her a “young woman,” which many criticized as a form of adultification, where Black girls are perceived to be much older and more mature than their actual age.
Conflicting reports voiced Ma’Khia called the police in fear of her safety, while others stated that an eyewitness who knew Ma’Khia called the police. Instead of detailing what incited the violence on that fateful day, law enforcement instead chose to release additional traumatic footage of a child’s death.
Part of that can be attributed to how we receive and disseminate news, and the other has to do with our inner biases that make us subject to believe that a young Black girl deserved death rather than love, care and support.
Greenwood descendants talk resilience and reparations with iOne Digital during centennial commemoration of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre.”
The Tulsa Race Massacre is the greatest act of racial terror committed by whites in a United States city against an African descended community. It is a stark example of the failure of the U.S. democracy to provide justice for race-based terroristic violence – to require reparative justice – thus, condoning it.
It is one of many instances where state, local and federal governments failed to acknowledge and repair the injuries wrought by terroristic violence against Black people. The failure to repair these historic injuries that have present-day consequences increases the urgency for passage of H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparations Proposals for African-Americans Act, and like state bills. Passage of H.R. 40 is one of the policy demands from the Movement for Black Lives’ Vision for Black Lives policy platform.
The Tulsa Race Massacre was promulgated by an angry, white mob that included city police and aided by the Oklahoma National Guard that flattened much of the Greenwood District, an all-Black community. The result was the death of at least 300 Greenwood residents, the exile of many including leaders of the community and the loss and destruction of real and personal property. Estimates of the total property damage have amounted to approximately $4 million at 1921 rates; $58 million at 2020 rates.
The Greenwood District was built amidst racist and state-imposed segregation enforced by the white-led City of Tulsa. Founded in 1906 by O.W. Gurley in 1906, Greenwood was Black people’s response to racism and segregation in Oklahoma, using their skills, ingenuity and talents to build a prosperous, thriving community outside of Tulsa. By 1920, approximately 10,000 African Americans lived in the Greenwood District.
Due to its economic vibrancy, Greenwood became known throughout the country as Black Wall Street. It was so economically self-sufficient that a dollar circulated within the community as many as fifty times. It was a tourist destination for many famous and successful African Americans throughout the United States.
Yet, its prosperity did not insulate it from the battle cry of white supremacy to deny the right of African descended people to thrive, and live, in peace. In fact, its very existence proved the falsity of the basic tenet of white supremacy that African peoples were inferior. As Otis Clark, a resident of Greenwood who was a plaintiff in the 2003 federal case, said: “they (whites) were jealous of our little town.” So, under the guise of protecting the virtue of a young white woman who accused a young Black man, Dick Rowland, of molesting her, an angry white mob, incited by Tulsa newspapers that engaged in irresponsible reporting, went to the Tulsa jail where Rowland had been taken after his arrest.
The mob would have been a lynch mob but for the protection of Black, World War I vets living in Greenwood who went to the jail to protect Rowland. Unable to secure Rowland, and having their anger fueled by alcohol and the sight of Black men standing between them and Rowland, the mob left the jail and headed for Greenwood and destroyed it.
Those who survived were “forced to march for blocks through white neighborhoods with their hands in the air while their homes and possessions burned behind them. Approximately 6,000 Greenwood residents were forcefully detained in what the Tulsa World called “concentration camps,” a fenced pen guarded by armed white men, many forced to work for the city without pay – a badge of slavery.
Neither the City of Tulsa nor the State of Oklahoma has made reparations for these heinous acts in which they were complicit, including death and exile, the loss of inheritance of those who descended from them and the overall destruction of a vibrant community that now is less than a shell of itself. Meanwhile, building up to the 100th anniversary, the City’s political and business leadership used the history of the Greenwood District and the Race Massacre for their own financial gain. They are building a tourism industry on the backs of Black suffering, with no design to provide reparations to those families who were victimized by the outrageous terroristic violence.
Indeed, residents of Greenwood and leaders in the reparations movement for the destruction of Greenwood have been virtually ignored rather than included in city and business-led development plans. The city and business leaders’ actions make a mockery of reparations. They are being unjustly enriched – gaining from the destruction of Greenwood in 1921 over and over – taking the land that was torched, building a university on it, and now obtaining financial gain by telling the story of the Race Massacre in which the City participated.
This 100th Anniversary is the 100th year in which justice has been denied to the survivors and descendants of those who lost life and property at the hands of a city and state-supported white mob. It signifies the failure of the United States and the states within it to be accountable for the racial terror spawned in slavery, the legacy of which continues to this day – evidenced by racial disparities, including in health, education, criminal and civil justice and wealth. The passage of HR 40 is an important step in the United States owning its crimes against African descended people and making reparations for the injuries for which it and its predecessor colonies are responsible.
Adjoa A. Aiyetoro is an activist attorney with extensive experience working domestically and internationally to obtain remedies for historic and present-day wrongs to people of color, women, prisoners and other oppressed groups. She is a lifetime member of the National Conference of Black Lawyers (NCBL) and the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (NCOBRA). She has served as co-chairperson of NCBL’s Board and as its national director. Aiyetoro, as Co-Chair of NCBL, was a founding member of NCOBRA and served as its first woman co-chair.
Image source: Universal History Archive / Getty
Written By Adjoa A. Aiyetoro, Co-founder, NCOBRA, Member M4BL Reparations Working Group
From Haiti and Beyond: Trump’s Foreign Policies Continue in the Global South
The public was told that with the election of President Joe Biden the United States would return to the days when it championed human rights and enjoyed an international prestige as the “City on the Hill” as Ronald Reagan called it, that all nations and peoples aspire to emulate.
With the end of the nightmare that was Trump, Biden proclaimed that “American would be back.” But as Black poet Langston Hughes said, “American never was America for me.” The same can be said for the peoples of the colonized and oppressed global South. For them, the United States has never been anything but a death machine no matter what party occupied the White House.
It did not take long for Biden to prove the veracity of that insight from the global South. In fact, it appeared that the only difference between Biden’s and Trump’s foreign policies would be that Biden might be even more belligerent and hypocritical than Trump.
In just a few days after taking power, Joe Biden gave the go-ahead to Jovenel Moïse—the late U.S. Haitian puppet president, who was assasinated on July 7, 2021, to ignore the constitutional requirements to leave office at the end of his term on February 7th. For Biden and Democrats, the fact that hundreds of thousands of Haitians were demanding that Moïse respect democracy and leave office—and that the Moïse government responded with massive repression—including murder, meant nothing.
Right after the decision to support the right-wing government in Haiti, the Biden administration was faced with having to defend Israel’s brutality in the occupied territories and Gaza.
In Palestine, the crimes of the Israeli apartheid government were usually out of sight of the U.S. public. The degrading and dehumanizing policies of home demolitions, attacks on and detainment of Palestinian children, confiscation of Palestinian land and the establishment of illegal settlements complete with separation walls and special roads for Israelis, impunity for settler violence, including the murder of Palestinians, air, and sea blockade of Gaza, were never allowed to be presented in their full brutality. But with the latest assault on Gaza, the brutality of the occupation was covered by the corporate press, and the result was that for the first time Palestinians were “humanized.”
The Palestinian issue was soon followed by the crisis in Colombia, another U.S. ally, where since April 28th, ordinary Colombians have been in the streets protesting the policies of a government unable to solve the problems of an economy that cannot provide a humane living to a majority of its population. The response of the Colombian government’s police and special forces, equipped with U.S.- and Israeli-supplied weapons and U.S. training, was swift and brutal.
Image source: Sabin Johnson/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
“… as long as white Americans take refuge in their whiteness—for so long as they are unable to walk out of this most monstrous of traps—they will allow millions of people to be slaughtered in their name, and will be manipulated into and surrender themselves to what they will think of—and justify—as a racial war.”
— James Baldwin
“…the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government.”
— Dr. Martin Luther King
Images flooded social media of beatings, shootings, and general brutality against peaceful protestors. The response from the Biden administration? Silence. But why? Why the consistency in U.S. foreign policy regardless of who and what party occupies the White House?
The answer is on one level quite simple, despite the mystifications and obscurantism that emanates from professors teaching courses on international relations and U.S. foreign policy. Since the end of the second world-war, the U.S. has been the preeminent global colonial/capitalist power. U.S. global domination would be impossible without its core instrument of enforcement and control—state violence.
The commitment to maintain U.S. global hegemony is reflected in its national security strategy where it is clearly stated that the U.S. is committed to “full spectrum dominance.” This means that any regional power that might pose a threat to U.S. domination will be targeted, isolated and if possible, destroyed—Libya in Africa, Venezuela in Latin America, Russia in Europe. This approach and strategy are not based on the whims of any individual but represents the logic of dominance that both parties support.
Biden took up Trump’s shift to “great power competition” reflected in Trump’s National Strategy 2017. Trump’s obsession with China was not just a personal predilection but reflected the fears and anxiety of a U.S. ruling class that sees its grip on global domination slipping daily.
The realization of U.S. strategy transcends individuals and certainly the concerns of people of color who find themselves in the crosshairs of U.S. and European aggression. This understanding of what drives U.S. foreign and domestic policies must be recognized by Africans/Black people in the U.S.
This instrumentalist approach to non-European life and maintenance of white power has characterized the approach taken by every single individual that has ever occupied the white house since the beginning of the U.S. as the first white supremacist republic ever constructed in history. The idea that Joe Biden, like Barack Obama, would be a departure from that responsibility and mission has always been a dangerous illusion for the colonized and oppressed who embrace the idea that personality would trump objective class interests.
For Biden, Black lives only matter when they are serving the interests of white power. That goes for Black life in Haiti, Colombia or in the U.S.
Dr. King understood that fact more than fifty years ago. For King, violence was the cancer that ate away at the soul of the U.S. And since Dr. King’s violent assassination it is clear that the cancer has only metastasized, producing a deranged and spiritually dead society where death is entertainment, wars are normalized, and physical and social violence has become an acceptable way of life.
The neoliberal capitalist order is in irreversible decline. But the U.S. and its European colonialist allies have demonstrated that they are prepared to do whatever it takes to maintain global dominance. On the contrary, the people of Haiti, Palestine, Colombian, Venezuela and across the U.S. and beyond have demonstrated that they are prepared to meet reaction with positive revolutionary opposition. That is the lesson of today and the historic task of the moment.
“Why we can’t let up on the pressure” African American Policy Forum
Last year reads like a cliché, or a classic novel: It was the “worst of times and the best of times—the times that try our souls….” We acknowledged the greatest mass mobilization for social justice in a generation—inspiring millions making connections between structural racism, gender inequality and the precarity of Black women’s lives. But we also faced onslaughts from the most powerful leader in the land, who targeted “Us” for unifying intersectional allies and accomplices to fight for reforms and social justice.
But before I describe social justice issues affecting Black women, I want to share a question by a young Black woman on social media that captures how this generation is being stymied:
“Why is it that I am learning more about racism and American history on ‘TikTok’ than in my public school?”
I would be remiss if I didn’t analyze the critical issues in our communities which animates, in part, her vexing question: Why are tools that she needs for righting the wrongs we face being taken away?
During a year of social justice, we launched movements addressing the deeply discriminatory conditions of possibility, while exposing the persistent barriers to well-being. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged racism as a public health issue, and we marched, protested, called for police reform--as state-sanctioned violence continued to take Black lives. Nearly 60 percent of Black women killed by police in the recent past were unarmed--like Breonna Taylor--more than any other race or gender! Black women are still three times more likely to die at the hands of an intimate partner, ex-partner or a “friend”--like Toyin Salau. We hail the lives of those lost to police violence, and also decry all forms of violence against Black women.
A year of social justice acknowledges COVID-19 affecting frontline healthcare workers--where Black women are overrepresented and more exposed to infections--like Dr. Susan Moore, a physician who contracted COVID but could not get doctors to treat her pain and seemingly dithered while she died.
We could explain disparate impacts of economics, education, and housing discrimination, but I want to answer our young woman’s vexing question: They want to stop your involvement in movements for justice--because you make a difference! Like the WNBA athletes who led a global pause in sports in the wake of police violence, and like the Black women who led electoral victories during the largest voter turnout in history (90 percent of Black women cast votes for Biden-Harris); you moved the needle toward justice. Turning back 74 million Trumpists doubling-down on repression and voter suppression--you ensured victory. You deserve credit for VP Kamala Harris, as you helped end one of the most authoritarian regimes in American politics.
But we are not saved, because 74 million people exhuming big lies from “lost cause” redeemers of white power, and racist insurrectionists masquerading as patriots, mean we have won the battle but may yet lose the war for multiracial democracy.
We promote intersectionality and racial justice in civil society--reforms restructuring lives for another generation--but we cannot ignore authoritarian narratives and last-ditch efforts to paint anti-racists as “reverse racists” who discriminate against whites. That lie still has political currency among millions. They would wipe out 50 years of progress, if we were not buoyed by the momentum of Black women like you.
Answering your question, I cite visionary stories and “beautiful experiments” by NK Jemisin and Saidiya Hartman--who exquisitely explain what happens “when Black women’s voices are ignored!” It’s not just that things fall apart--it’s that a fairer future gets erased.
We are writing ourselves back into vision--through organizing strategies and voter registration/education projects, standing up for fallen women while proclaiming “Say Her Name!” and lovingly caring for the future of our nation--and each other.
We shouldn’t ignore the extreme duress that living through extended mourning may cause; however, grief can motivate progress—as we become activated in the midst of crisis, we can and we should create new conditions of possibility. It may feel like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound, but that can work--if we apply pressure. We despair of excess deaths and mounting repression, but we also cannot let up the pressure, because you/we are making a difference, everyday.
Source: GraphicaArtis / Getty
Author: Kimberlé Crenshaw, African American Policy Forum
From the Base to the Face
‘Cause I believe these smiles in three-piece suits with gracious, liberal demeanor
Took our movement off of the streets and took us to the cleaners
In other words, we let up the pressure, and that was all part of their plan
And every day we allow to slip through our fingers is playing right into their hands
The New Deal
Image source: Getty
Written By Kirsten West Savali
In 1919, seventeen-year-old Eugene Williams sailed a raft onto the “white side” of the Chicago River. Nearly 50 years later, in 1967, police beat the multiracial members of Mothers for Adequate Welfare (MAW) for staging a sit-in at a Boston public-assistance office. Each of these events touched off waves of national uprisings — followed by investigations that revealed a driving force for the conditions of unrest: the racist U.S. media system.
Another 50 years later, we’re experiencing international uprisings that began in 2020 after police murdered George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Atatiana Jefferson, Tony McDade and so many others. How can we upend this cycle?
To write a future that’s free of state violence, we must reckon with the media’s complicity.
The Red Summer of 1919 was far from the nation’s first racial uprising, but something unique did occur: A multiracial body called the Chicago Commission on Race Relations was formed to investigate the causes.
In 1922, the commission issued a report that examined the factors that contributed to the riot. The commission found that white newspapers had falsely spread rumors that white people made up a majority of those who were killed and injured. In reality, Black people accounted for 23 of the 38 people who were killed and two-thirds of the more than 500 who were injured.
The commission also found that Chicago’s white press depicted the city’s Black residents primarily through stories about crime, noting: “Constant identification of Negroes with certain definite crimes could have no other effect than to stamp the entire Negro group in the public mind as generally criminal.”
Nearly half a century later, the “long, hot summer” of 1967 brought racial-justice uprisings in Boston followed by Detroit, Newark and more than 150 other cities. President Lyndon B. Johnson formed the Kerner Commission to examine the
In 1968, the commission released its report, which included a chapter focused on the media. It noted that “far too often, the press acts and talks about Negroes as if Negroes don't read the newspapers or watch television, give birth, marry, die, and go to PTA meetings.”
Media dehumanization allows anti-Blackness to remain culturally acceptable. And without accountability, the cycle of state violence will only continue.
In 2020, the Black caucus at Free Press launched the Media 2070 project, an invitation to dream up the future of media reparations. Project director Alicia Bell describes the initiative as “a living archive of media harms and an emergent consortium of media-makers and activists.” The project’s mission is to address the harms committed by mass media, as well as the federal government and its media policymaking.
Today, government deregulation has resulted in few Black media owners: Less than 1% of full-power TV stations are Black owned and controlled, as are fewer than 180 of the 11,000 commercial radio stations across the country. Meanwhile, right-wing radio hosts and cable pundits fill the airwaves and social-media timelines with conspiracy theories designed to stoke fear and violence against Black people and other impacted communities.
None of this is surprising given the roots of the U.S. media: Revenue from “runaway slave ads” helped the nation’s earliest colonial newspapers stay afloat financially.
A fundamental reimagining is necessary if there’s any hope for a just media future. Diversity isn’t enough: We must transform and reconfigure media power in service of liberation.
Living in 2021 and being committed to a future where all people are thriving and well means reflecting the many social movements that are creating that future. In these movements, the vision is transformation to a world abundant with Black liberation, Indigenous sovereignty, queer and trans liberation, housing and land justice, disability justice, and many more shapes of freedom.
While these movements are layered, one thing is common among them all: story. Each movement cultivates the power of shared truth – and fights the false stories that create deadly caste systems.
“The environment is to be controlled.”
“Indigenous people aren’t meant to be here.”
“Disabled people lack worth.”
“Black people are dangerous.”
As Media 2070 writes on Medium.com, “The cops killed Ma’Khia Bryant, Andrew Brown, Daunte Wright and George Floyd — but anti-Black media helped create
the conditions for these murders.”
Media institutions are not exempt from needing to reckon with the harm they’ve caused Black and POC communities, and must provide recompense for what’s
And with that reckoning, we dream of a world 50 years from now — in 2070 — where there is no longer a media system written with the blood of Black lives.
Alicia Bell is the director of the Media 2070 project at Free Press, where Joseph Torres is the senior director of strategy and engagement and Collette Watson is the vice president of cultural strategy.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when some data first became available, it became readily apparent that this virus was inflicting disproportionate carnage on the most marginalized in our country. We know that in 2020, life expectancy in the United States dropped overall, but significantly more for Blacks (2.7 years) and LatinX (2 years) in comparison to whites. We, as a country, have experienced pandemics and crises before in our history and due to the innate resilience of the American people, we have always weathered these storms and emerged stronger on the other side. However, what is interesting, is that from 1793 when yellow fever struck the U.S. all the way until present day, we have never achieved an equitable response to a pandemic specifically. We believe this is our opportunity to stem the tide and move our country in a more equitable, inclusive, and healthier direction.
Yet, to actually achieve an equitable response, we have to know which health inequities exist and persist across the country. Many will argue that if there is no data to point to, then there must certainly be no problem. But we know, very clearly, there is a problem. While the country has recently crossed the very important threshold of having half of all US adults vaccinated and some of the largest school districts in the country returning to in-person learning, we’re still grappling with inequitable distribution and access to the vaccine, structural inequities, vaccine hesitancy, and the unknown effects of “long COVID.” Today, only 22% of Black Americans have gotten a shot, and Black rates still trail those of whites in almost every state. So, while things are certainly trending in the right direction, the question becomes: is that direction an equitable one? Who is keeping track of these inequities across the nation? Further, is there transparency into the actual numbers, and what are we doing about it?
What this has meant for us at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine, is that we’ve spent the better part of the past year working to shine a spotlight on the inequities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19 in an effort to make certain that the future we are headed towards, is more inclusive and accessible. This moment in history requires an all hands-on-deck approach. As such, we are dedicated to providing the community with factual data, highlighting inequitable gaps in data collection, leveraging our nationwide partnerships with community leaders, and advancing evidence-based policies with the ultimate goal of moving the needle of health equity forward. For us to go beyond simply naming inequities to actually addressing inequities, work must be done further upstream to address the root causes of these inequities.
This is why we set out to create and launch our Health Equity Tracker, the nation’s first comprehensive data platform that can highlight and address the impact of COVID-19 and other diseases on the Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and other vulnerable and marginalized communities. This is the premier health equity-focused data visualization solution, capable of tracking multiple conditions and determinants that impacted COVID-19 outcomes and exacerbated health inequities. Our Health Equity Tracker is a public-facing, scalable platform that ingests multiple data sets ranging from demographics to COVID-19 and other health conditions, to social and political determinants of health. Notably, our Tracker’s unparalleled ability to identify missing data gaps results in a novel approach highlighting health inequities.
Understanding that the disproportionate harm inflicted by COVID-19 is but a mere manifestation of the underlying inequities that pervade our country, we’ve made certain that this Health Equity Tracker has been developed to do precisely what it is named to do: track health equity beyond COVID. The Tracker will expand in the future to include additional conditions such as mental and behavioral health, as well as more social and political determinants of health that impact vulnerable communities, including persons with disabilities, LGBTQ+ individuals, and lower socioeconomic status people.
Our goal is for this Tracker to equip policymakers, public health officials, advocates, healthcare providers, leaders, and community organizers with the resources they need to help remediate disparate outcomes. By calling attention to these missing data gaps, our hope is that this will in turn lead to actionable, evidence-based policy changes that address the disproportionately impacted communities who have for so long not received the resources and support they need. As such, we understand that this moment in history requires an innovative approach to truly emerge from this pandemic into a more equitable tomorrow. Even as we now enter this period in pushing for an equitable vaccination response, it’s imperative that we have solid data with which to understand who among us are truly bearing the brunt of harm. We believe the Health Equity Tracker helps to reframe the dialogue to encompass more than just the COVID-19 pandemic, and instead, truly begin to grapple with the quadruple pandemic plaguing our country.
It is our hope that this Tracker may someday no longer be necessary. For our country to have truly reckoned with and addressed the systemic inequities that have plagued it for so long, that a novel approach to highlighting disparities is obsolete, is the ultimate aim. While that goal is indeed a lofty one, and one we’re committed to working tirelessly in the pursuit of, we understand that it all starts with today and this approach. We may not know when this collective trauma will be behind us, but what is known is that whenever we reach the end of this tunnel, that light that we’re currently moving towards will be the spotlight on inequities that our Health Equity Tracker helped to illuminate.
Daniel E. Dawes, J.D., is the executive director of the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine, and author of The Political Determinants of Health. Nelson J. Dunlap, J.D., is the chief of staff and health policy expert at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at Morehouse School of Medicine.
Image source: Maria Khrenova / Getty
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
In April of this year, approximately three months into my new role at iOne Digital, Allison McGevna-Cirino, iOne’s Senior Vice-President of Content, came to me with an ambitious idea. She wanted to pay homage to pioneering Black newspapers, while simultaneously highlighting some of the social justice stories that have continued to impact Black people since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What an honor. What a responsibility.
How does one sift through the rubble of broken dreams and shattered futures that state violence—both police and political–left scattered on the asphalt of communities across this nation? How is it possible to see the imperialist crimes of which this nation is complicit, from Haiti to Palestine, and decide which stories are newsworthy? How does one curate an unflinching truth about a country that has lied about the depth and quality of its character since its inception?
Well, you begin by rooting the work in the tradition of the Black journalists that have come before—such as Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who taught us through her work at the Memphis Free Speech and beyond, to be both righteous and rigorous. You think of the Freedom’s Journal and the Woman's Era, of the Chicago Defender and the New York Amsterdam News, of the Los Angeles Sentinel and Negro World.
You think of all the Black journalists who have risked their lives to tell the truth.
This “Front Page” is by no means exhaustive. There is no way to list the names of every Black person killed by police—no way to list every injustice, every instance of inhumanity and hypocrisy. There is no way to lift up all the brilliant, beautiful, bold, Black work that is being done to make freedom dreams a reality. What we have curated here is a small window into what resistance, revolution, and reimaging has looked like across this nation and the globe.
Mariame Kaba and Andrea Ritchie begin by teaching us about abolition and making it plain that a world where George Floyd and Ma’Khia Bryant and Breonna Taylor are still alive is a world without police. Kimberlé Crenshaw, one of the architects of Critical Race Theory, breaks down why it is so important for this nation to confront its foundational violence in order to dismantle systems structured precisely so that the brutality continues. Ajamu Baraka sheds light on the uprisings in Haiti and beyond, while Loubna Qutami not only educates readers on the continued ethnic cleansing and occupation of Palestinian land, but on the history of Black-Palestinian solidarity.
From the dire need for a federal focus on Black women and reproductive justice, to a conversation with descendants of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre, the iOne Digital team has curated a page rooted in Black liberation. We hope to show with this front page that, just as with Black newspapers of the past, if there are those in positions of power attempting to deny our people human rights, there will be Black journalists, writers, and content creators holding their feet to the fire every step of the way.
A new world is possible.
Kirsten West Savali, Senior Director, Content, iOne Digital
Letter from the Editor:
“If you are not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”
— Malcolm X
“Having lost my paper, had a price put on my life, and been made an exile from home for hinting at the truth, I felt I owed it to myself and to my race to tell the whole truth.”
— Ida B. Wells-Barnett
That victim who is able to articulate the situation of the victim has ceased to be a victim: He, or she, has become a threat."