August will soon mark the two-year anniversary of the killing of Michael Brown and the uprising of black youth in Ferguson, Mo. Many of us are asking ourselves, “What has changed?”
Black people and our allies have since taken to the streets by the thousands and a massive online movement proclaimed that “Black lives matter.” But two years later, the killings of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, La., and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minn., a suburb of St. Paul, Minn., remind us of the continuing violence visited on black communities by our criminal-justice system.
At a moment like this, we must reflect: Why haven’t we seen more progress? Why hasn’t our presence online and in the streets resulted in the power to end something as basic as state-sanctioned killings of black people?
Our challenge has been one of leadership. We have marched, tweeted and made critical interventions in the presidential race and local politics, but our political leadership doesn’t have the courage to meet our demands. Those with the power to create structural change would rather crop around the margins of our current systems while doubling down on the same approaches that got us here.
Our elected representatives continue to think that further investment in police departments that have historically criminalized black communities to feed mass incarceration is the solution for justice and safety in black communities. Elected representatives at the local, state and federal levels have invested millions more in more equipment, technology and officers for police departments.
To fill this void in leadership and intervene in this current political moment, dozens of local and national organizations have come together for over a year to build our own platform to repair the harm caused by centuries of racial and economic oppression of black people. We know that no political party or candidate will save us, and it is time for us to articulate our ambitions and vision on our own terms. The result of that effort is the Movement for Black Lives Platform. Our agenda is simple.
I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free
We demand an end to the war against black people and reparations for the centuries of harm inflicted upon black people and our communities. Black communities have never been able to flourish without the impediments of slavery, segregation and mass incarceration. Separate and unequal schools, redlining, black codes, voter suppression, COINTELPRO, forced sterilization, subprime mortgages, the war on drugs, privatization of schools, prisons, and detention centers. This list could go on forever.
Black communities have been devastated by the same failed approaches to delivering on the empty promises of American equality and prosperity. Meanwhile, private prisons, big banks, police unions, the bail bonds industry and so many other defenders of the status quo are turning our pain into profit.
At the March on Washington, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke about a “bad check” that America has given black people, and we are still waiting on payment on these American promises. Well, we believe the time has come for payment and the M4BL Platform is the bill.
Source: The Root | Charlene Carruthers