On Black vision and turning points
Words by Jenny Lee
Elder Detroit activists in this Black, resilient city taught me that a crisis can be a turning point. This is a turning point – that much is clear. Many of us have never in our lives seen or been a part of such an unrelenting wave of outcry, of action, and of conversation that gets to the heart of racial justice in this country.
We are pouring over social media, we are braving cold and police to march, we are having vulnerable, urgent moments with family members and co-workers and strangers; we are responding in all of the ways we know how. We see fragments of solutions in calls for demilitarization of the police, community oversight boards and an end to racial profiling, even while knowing that there is no single fix to the problem of anti-Black racism short of fundamentally changing who we are. In the words of James Baldwin, “I really do believe we can be better than what we are. But the price is enormous.”
In the midst of this turning point in the tide of human history, there is also brilliant vision, Black vision, that transcends immediate response. It is vision in the sense of grasping things clearly, at their roots and in all their dimensions; but also in the sense of understanding a future beyond this heartbroken present. We have a need for both kinds of vision now more than ever.
Below is a sampling of Black vision from beloveds within our Allied Media Projects network, and from others who we don’t know yet, but hopefully will soon. Black lives matter.
– Jenny Lee, Allied Media Projects
#Ferguson by Ashley Yates
“The world heard the boom. Our freedom came loudly.
It will echo on. We will not be silenced.”
For Eric Garner………..’they call it murder’ by DJ Underdog
C(h)ant. Breathe.: Coming Back to Breath in Honor of Eric Garner and Many More by Alexis Pauline Gumbs
we are feeling it in our chests
the underwater knowing
of upside down justice
that has to right itself
that hasn’t righted itself
the sinking feeling
that the chokehold of the state
is more persistent than the ocean
it is not
Facebook post from Tawana Honeycomb Petty
“I am not in my beloved city Detroit right now, so I will not be at the demonstrations today. I have been telephoned, emailed and texted about my opinions on Ferguson numerous times since last night. As I sit here with a heavy heart, I can’t help but to feel that post 67 Detroit has failed the young people of Ferguson. We have failed to vision a new way forward, to create a world that our young people deserve to live and thrive in. But, it’s not too late. We have an opportunity to redeem ourselves, to shift the paradigm, to pull away from the systems that oppress us and to turn to one another. We have an opportunity to engage on a level that moves beyond solidarity and into the beloved community, one that actively resists while we collectively engage in building intentional communities. We are still living in a post 67 Detroit, as we have unsuccessfully turned our anger and passion into vision. We did not find our solace in more Black cops and neither will Ferguson. We did not find our solace in electing more Black leaders and neither will Ferguson. We did not find our solace in smoke and flames and neither will Ferguson. We will find our solace in one another. Let us lift our voices to the sky with our righteous indignation, then let us pave a way for the world we want to live in.
“Godspeed to my friends and family in Detroit, in Ferguson, and across the globe! We are poised to show the world how to treat Black Lives with the dignity and respect we deserve and I look forward to locking arms with you all to do just that! Ashe!
The Assault on Young Black Life Extends Beyond Ferguson by Dani McClain
“Parents of black children continue to question a culture that tells them to clip their children’s wings before they have nerve enough to think they can spread them. Teaching black children that they need not be fearful, docile or mature beyond their years is a revolutionary and potentially dangerous act, but it shouldn’t be.”
The Civil Rights Movement Came Out of a Moment Like this One by Dani McClain
“When do we craft and push for the next Civil Rights Act? The next Voting Rights Act? How do we keep playing this necessary defense—while also going hard on offense? How do we identify the deep, structural problems, if only one at a time, and devise plans to solve them? In other words, when do we start to think big like the A. Philip Randolphs, Bayard Rustins, Ella Bakers and other brilliant strategists of yesteryear?”
Science Fiction and the Post-Ferguson World: ‘There Are as Many Ways to Exist as We Can Imagine’ an Interview with Walidah Imarisha by Mary Hansen
“It’s incredibly important that we begin to shift our thinking away from the state keeping us safe, given that that has never been the purpose of the state—it’s never been the purpose of the police or the prison system—and instead begin to ask, how do we keep each other safe? How do we prevent harm from happening? How do we address harm when it does happen in our communities in ways that are about healing, and about wholeness, rather than about punishment and retribution?”
Ain’t I a Human?: Ferguson and the Neglect of Black Women, Femmes, and Girls by Danielle Stevens
“When we are complacent about the violence against women, femmes, and girls of color, we send the message that our lives do not matter, that the lives of black women, femmes, and girls are disposable, that our lives hold no value, and that our deaths & negligence are all in a day’s work. Dismantling oppressive power structures that inflict violence upon black women, femmes, & girls absolutely depends upon each and every one of us.”
My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK by Kiese Laymon
“‘We are winning,’ my mentor, Adisa Ajamu, often tells me. ‘Improvisation, transcendence, and resilience—the DNA of the Black experience—are just synonyms for fighting preparedness for the long winter of war.’
“Adisa is right. But to keep winning, to keep our soul and sanity in this terror-filled coliseum, at some point we have to say fuck it. We have to say fuck them. And most importantly, we must say to people and communities that love us, ‘I love you. Will you please love me? I’m listening.'”
A Herstory of the #BlackLivesMatter Movement by Alicia Garza
“Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, Black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women and all Black lives along the gender spectrum. It centers those that have been marginalized within Black liberation movements. It is a tactic to (re)build the Black liberation movement.”
black love as radical commitment by adrienne maree brown
“because we are lovable, as lovable as anything else on this incredible and utterly unique planet. and even though our recent history includes generations of self-negating branding, physical and psychological, we have begun to love ourselves again…
“our numbers are massive with ghosts. we are cultivating the liberated state. we know every person killed is a fallen soldier in the greatest war ever fought – and we grieve with parents and community, and we blow on fires of fearlessness growing deep in our bellies, to take action in and through grief.
“it won’t be easy, but we will find every pleasure, every sacred instance.”