Today we are all in Ferguson in spirit as those who loved and mourn Michael Brown gather to lay him to rest. The events that have transpired in Ferguson, MO in the weeks following his senseless death have dramatized the violent contours of anti-black racism in the US.
We know that those who are putting their bodies on the line to protest the devaluation of Black life in America are moving in the same courageous spirit of young people a half century ago who refused to allow the Freedom Struggle to be snuffed out by fear and repression. The degree of police repression being permitted in Ferguson is a vivid reminder that neither the passage of time nor the election of a Black president fundamentally alters the dynamics of anti-Black racism on the ground.
Confronting the conditions that continue to disproportionately ravage Black communities demands a level of accountability and direct action which cannot be realized so long as our leaders hope to find some middle ground between white supremacy and racial justice. We know that so long as media coverage foregrounds exaggerated and often false narratives of civil disorder rather than the continuing repression of the police, our communities will be not be safe.
Having called on the president to embrace a robust racial justice agenda that attends to the concrete needs of men, women and children of color, we remain committed to closing the profound gaps between the president’s signature racial justice initiative and the conditions under which many of our brothers and sisters live. As the letter from 200 Black Men to President Obama urging a realignment of My Brother’s Keeper ("MBK") stated, “the obstacles we face are not simply matters of attitude adjustment and goal setting, but the consequences of deteriorating opportunities, the weakened enforcement of civil rights laws, and the increasing emphasis by government actors on policies that focus on punishment, surveillance, and incarceration.”
It is clear that MBK’s focus on mentoring and other individual level-interventions will do little to stop the Darren Wilsons of this world. Nor will it address the realities of those who live under siege and are forced to negotiate a social world in which their life outcomes remain circumscribed by racism. As we have argued, these conditions cannot be deflected onto single-headed households or any of the other explanations that that ignore the structural, historical, and gendered dimensions of white supremacy.
As we asserted in our statement on August 14, “Black lives matter: girls and boys, men and women, heterosexual or same gender loving, transgender, the poor, the middle class, the well-off, the disabled, and the immigrant.” This simple assertion -- belied by the treatment of Black people in Ferguson and elsewhere -- prompted key members of our team to organize with others on a series of "Black Lives Matter" rides to Ferguson on Labor Day weekend. Four members of our core group will be in Ferguson working with local organizations to secure justice for Michael Brown, his family, and for the city of Ferguson. Information about the rides, including how you can participate or support the riders, can be found here and here.
We would also like to share with you the thoughts of a number of our core group of organizers, including pieces in Salon and The New York Times as well as interviews on MSNBC and Democracy Now! Please share these links across social media. Please know that both the men's letter and the women's letter remain open for signing and we ask the you continue to encourage others to do so. Finally, please stay posted for further updates from #WhyWeCantWait -- including a date for the rebroadcast of our July 10th webinar and Save the Date notices for other events this fall.
Click here to read our statement on Ferguson
Featured Media from #WhyWeCantWait Organizers
Kirsten West Savali in Dame Magazine - August 18: "Black Women Are Killed By Police, Too"
Marlon Peterson in The Brooklyn Reader - August 18:
“Open Letter to the Media, If/When I am Gunned Down by the Police or a Random White Person.”
in Salon - August 12: "In defense of black rage: Michael Brown, Police and the American dream."
on HuffPost Live - August 18: “Screaming at the American Dream”
in Salon - August 19: “America’s New Racial Low Point: More Crying Black Mothers, and Tear Gas On Our Dreams”
in Salon - September 3: "'I am not afraid to die': Why America will never be the same post-Ferguson"
in The New York Times - August 14: "Control and Containment Requires Nonlethal Force Not Armed Cops"
in The Washington Post - August 15: "Ferguson police broke the law when they stopped civilians from videotaping them"
on Meet the Press - August 21: “Flashpoint in Ferguson: Race and Policing in America”
on NPR - August 20: “With Ferguson, Obama Forced to Face Race Yet Again”
on The Lead with Jake Tapper - August 22: ”Experts: Uphill battle to convict Officer Wilson”
on Now with Alex Wagner - August 22: "Barely an incident report on Brown shooting”
on The Ed Show - August 14: "The Political Impact of the Ferguson Protest"
on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show - August 23 & 24:
on The Ed Show - August 14: "History of Police Violence"
on Democracy Now! - August 18: "Ferguson Protests Erupt Near Grave of Ex-Slave Dred Scott, Whose Case Helped Fuel U.S. Civil War"
on Women's Magazine (radio show discussing how an intersectional feminist perspective is missing from the mainstream and left analysis in these "post-racial" times), archived at www.kpfa.org/womensmagazine.