Black Lives Matter Is Trending: What’s Next?
Today’s date 6/26/2020.
It’s been roughly 30 days of protests across the country. This is due to an outcry caused by the death of George Floyd who was murdered by the Minneapolis police department.
People from all walks of life, from every corner of the U.S., not to mention the rest of the world, have come together in unity to stand up and shout unapologetically three words:
“BLACK LIVES MATTER”
It still amazes me that we find ourselves in the year 2020 fighting our oppressors and begging for equal rights. We are still fighting the same fight our grandparents, great aunts, and great uncles fought in the 1950s and 1960s. Nothing has changed. Black people are still being gunned down and arrested by unjust police departments at an alarming rate, much higher than their white counterparts. Officers in body armor have traded in using german shepherds and hoses for tear gas and rubber bullets to dismantle peaceful demonstrations.
However, no matter what they throw at us, we continue to stand together and march. We hold massive gatherings made to inspire and welcome extreme diversity, helping to spread the black lives matter message to countless cities across the globe.
For those of you who have been under a rock for the last several years, the Black Lives Matter activist movement began as a hashtag to bring awareness to the 2013 killing of an unarmed Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. His murderer, Geoge Zimmerman, was exonerated of all charges.
The movement gained steam when 2 additional unarmed African American men, Eric Garner of New York and Michael Brown of Missouri, had their lives taken by police officers who were never charged for their deaths.
Yet once again we find ourselves here dealing with targeted violence against the Black community. It’s heartbreaking that it is taking the loss of so many Black lives for us to come together to fight for this cause, one which shouldn’t even be an issue in a country that claims to be the leader of the free world and people from around the world leave their homeland in the pursuit of the American dream. We live in a country that pledges freedom and justice for all, yet where is the justice for Breonna Taylor? Or Sandra Bland? Or Atatiana Jefferson?
The list goes on.
Our hearts won’t let our brothers and sisters die in vain. We use our first amendment rights to exercise “freedom of speech,” “of the press,” or the right “of the people peaceably to assemble” and take a more often than not peaceful stand against police brutality only to be met with excessive force by officers, aka police brutality.
As demonstrations continue to be organized and mobilized, and the raging fire that is the people continues to spread and increase its reach, in the back of my mind I have to wonder; what’s next?
Our voices are being heard. The government and corporations are well aware that we are in uncharted territory in this country. Each of the 50 states have faced protests and/or rioting and the momentum has not stopped yet, but it will. What do we do with all this pent up frustration when the protests are no longer happening regularly? What will we do with the excess energy after the rioters have torched city buildings and the looters have ransacked local businesses?
Truth be told we can only march so much. So, what is our next move? Do we all come together at one central location on a random date and march to the white house and demand justice and equality for all as a united force, not budging an inch until all of our demands are met and the creation of a committee that will meet quarterly to ensure legislation is enforced?
This would be my ideal scenario.
As of day 28, we have no plan for such a scenario and, as far as I can tell, there aren’t really any in the works. So, we wait and we pray that we are able to come up with a strategy.
Marching with signs that read “Defund the Police” is the first step but we will need to move on to the next eventually. Without a true plan of attack, this movement will be reduced to a moment that will be regrettably familiar to the Occupy Wall Street efforts of 2010-2011. While Occupy Wall Street put a spotlight on economic inequality in this country and brought it to the forefront, it disappeared without any real leaders strategizing continuous efforts to create and establish new laws and the movement soon died out.
So far, the Black Lives Matters movement has had success with bringing about change at local levels throughout cities, calling for officials to reallocate police funds to assist with building up inner-city communities, which is a small yet vital victory in the grand scheme of things. However, we cannot allow these micro wins to distract from our ultimate goal–the dismantling of racist institutions that govern this country.
Police reform is only a piece of the bigger picture. For this type of restructuring, we will need to come together and appoint civil rights organizations and align them with ground level activists in order to give the people the equal rights they wholeheartedly deserve.
Following in the footsteps of Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglas, the reason why groups led by Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and Huey P. Newton were successful in helping to bring about change in America for African Americans was that they were a professional organization. Right now it feels like we have fragments of activism across the country, but no official solidarity. What is taking place in Seattle with the autonomous zone is a separate effort from the defunding of the police department in Minnesota. My fear is that if activists from various regions won’t join together to come up with a strategy before the presidential election at the end of the year then all this energy will be wasted and the lives we lost would have been in vain.
So I guess the question remains: are we ready?
Are we ready to do what it takes to take things to the next level? The civil rights movement lasted a decade just for black folks to have the right to vote, something that was denied to them since the days of slavery. I strongly believe that the protests taking place throughout the nation is the best opportunity we have of seeing substantial results since the civil rights movement 50 years ago.
The death of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others in combination with the health and economic effects of the COVID-19 has brought the underrepresented together at a communal level. More of us are realizing that we possess the power to change the course of history through grassroots activism and local, state, and national lawmakers. The Black Lives Matter movement has been unwavering in its pursuit of equality for black people. We have taken to the streets in record numbers as communities of color fighting to destroy the past and not allowing it to continue to destroy us.
Collectively we have had enough. If we don’t use this unprecedented moment to bring about real change and eradicate racism, classism, and all the other isms in America then when?
So when someone asks me what’s next, I tell them that the racist foundation that America is built on must be destroyed and rebuilt. We can do this by organizing the masses and coming together as a united front.