EDITORIAL: The Road to Institutionalized (Re)Action
A Letter From the Editor - ’m happy to see our communities begin to rise to action in response to repeated social injustices these days. We have seen more protests and demonstrations in 2014 than in the last 20 years. Black Lives Matter. We rise to the occasion to speak out against crimes against citizens in our community regardless of the perpetrator. Robbery, gang violence, domestic violence, drug activity are all viewed as crimes in ANY community in the country and, if asked, I'm sure you won't find a single person who would say they don't mind having poverty and crime in their neighborhood. We love peace and prosperity and safety as much, if not more than the next man. Possibly more, since we've lived in a static en garde stance since we've arrived in this country. So yes, when you gun down Black citizens, the Black community will and should respond and react and call it what it is. We may or may not embrace the person the crime was perpetrated against but we ALWAYS embrace the concept of equitable treatment for all. Yes, all. And anyone who takes issue with that is probably part of the problem. Proudly, there are a number of local anti-violence organizations that exist to curtail violence in our communities and also respond in instances of social injustice like Newark Anti-Violence Coalition, Youth Service Inc., G.R.E.A.T (Gang Resistance Education and Training), Black Youth Project, We Charge Genocide, or any number listed here: YOUTH ORGANIZATIONSThat’s why I don’t buy into the media hype that no one seems to care when, so-called, “Black on Black” crime happens. Like Black folks don’t care enough to want to root out problems in our own communities or that we are conditioned that killing each other is just the way it goes down in the ‘hood.
That said, there is one thing we can all take away from the rash of police violence against Blacks (and others, by the way) and that is that the current level of reprisal is simply not enough to affect change. By that I mean that tolerating protest marches is more of an inconvenience to a city when a(nother) Black life is taken or (another) social injustice is dealt. In comparison to people losing their jobs or going to prison, a few traffic jams or disrupted city council meetings is a meager price to pay in exchange for a Black life. The process is typically this…
Innocent or not-so-innocent, unarmed teen\man\woman is gunned down under suspicious circumstances or flat out killed in police custody. Protests and demands for answers and justice are made. City or police official assures public that justice will be served. Character assassination of victim leaks to public to discredit victim and offender is put on paid administrative leave. Protests continue and the usual “race representatives” are rolled out for CNN, Fox News, etc. to talk about it.
Police investigate themselves and, of course, determine they did nothing wrong. Or a Grand Jury is convened, concludes no foul, then adjourns.. all in private. No files are charged. Protests eventually taper off and administrative leave is lifted for officer\politician in question. Life goes on. Rinse. Repeat. I won’t even go into how much money is generated by these cities in citations, bail and court fees for the protestors. Points of reference: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/no-indictment-in-ohio-wal-mart-shooting/ or http://www.wral.com/no-criminal-charges-in-police-shooting-of-fayetteville-teen/14112523/ or http://www.koat.com/news/fbi-investigation-into-james-boyd-shooting-continues/28322052 or http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/05/01/ST2008050101586.html or, well, you get the picture.
My thought is that protests should be just one aspect of a broader course of action. There is no national blueprint for how these issues should be addressed. Being angry is a natural reaction to the outrageous indifference to Black lives and communities but channeling that anger toward results is key. With integrity. Meaning no looting and opportunistic behavior. A national non-violent battle plan is needed to respond to the overt, institutionalized racism we’re witnessing. In my mind, a national plan would work kind of like how unions operate with support chapters in every city and attorneys and activists to stand up in times of crisis or negotiation. I don't mean like Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson but local people in tune with the environment and political structure in their location. For starters. And there needs to be a convergence of people willing to support their efforts locally and nationally that actually show up every time. Much like Ferguson, MO but on a broader scale from the criminal law perspective.
I’d like to initiate dialogue for an “Institutionalized Action” plan where Black folks nationwide collaborate on utilization of legal avenues, voting mobilization, financial activism and boycotting, and patronage. I mean a written physical plan, not just conversation, that can be circulated as a docotrine that can be adopted nationwide. An initiative to publish that identifies an upgrade to the mindset of protestors to collaborate on a national push back against social injustice and murder of Black citizens. I realize that no one would initially take this effort seriously, since mostly armchair rhetoric has preceded it over the last 20 years, but we have the means at our disposal in 2014 to take this plan off the drawing board and implement it. This message can be taken nationwide so that efforts like boycotts and consolidation of Black dollars are coordinated action and not just likable Facebook posts. It can be done. It should be done.
If readers are willing to chime in on a blog and add or expand on the concept, we can start a trend that becomes a national dialogue to create the blueprint. The goal would be:
Create a network of advocate attorneys nationwide with criminal or political background to help articulate a platform of activism (unlawful voter suppression, voting fraud, local law and policy writing/voting) and to call local law enforcement on their BS with protestors’ unlawful arrests, handling, or processing.
Create a network for voting mobilization that includes a few important facets. Voter registration and access to polls. Access for obtaining state issued ID, driver’s licenses or alternate identification acceptable for voting.
Create a politicatl research team to populate a database of local politicians; i.e. congressmen, senators, governors, mayors, police chiefs, police captains, sheriffs, etc. in hotspots for misbehavior. The database will keep a record of those that need to be voted out for their actions or inaction.
Create a volunteer IT team that can create and maintain a national database of local elected officials to track and consider at election time. This database would be populated with officials who participate in cover ups or otherwise derailing the pursuit of justice against police and politicians’ misdeeds. For instance, in the incident regarding Ferguson, MO, Jeff Roorda or Brian Fletcher. Make this database open to the public and circulate information from it at election time to ensure we go to the polls fully informed.
Create local mobilization teams for protests, to participate in the voting mobilization listed above or for boycott or patronage information.
Create a marketing and media team for print and visual media to launch a “Change The Conversation” campaign for positive imagery and messages in and outside of the Black community. The same way you see Church of the Latter Day Saints ad campaigns or the Ad Council or even Got Milk campaigns.
This is just an overview of some of my own personal thoughts on the subject. I think a collaborative response on this level will let politicians know that we hold them accountable at all times, but especially in the wake of senseless killings and excessive force.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, for or against what I’m saying. Don't just agree with me, join the blog conversation or help to kick it off. Please no rants, just constructive dialogue.
Love to all..