How Does US Prove that Black Lives Matter?

movement-black-lives-300x197‘What do those people want?”

We’ve heard this question or some variation thereof from scads of humans scratching their heads after a Black Lives Matter protest or a college action by students of color demanding safety from institutional racism or a man or woman loses his or her cool following ANOTHER police stop. Now, there is a formal answer.

The Movement for Black Lives presents The Platform, whose purpose is outlined on its website: “In response to the sustained and increasingly visible violence against Black communities in the U.S. and globally, a collective of more than 50 organizations representing thousands of Black people from across the country have come together with renewed energy and purpose to articulate a common vision and agenda.”

Demands include an end to the war on black people; reparations;  investment in the education, health, and safety of black people; economic justice for all; and self-determination in community control and political power.

Photo taken at Red Emma’s Baltimore, April 2015, by NR Davis

The document comes after a year of work.

A year ago, over 2,000 of us gathered in Cleveland to reflect on the state of our movement for liberation and celebrate our people, both those who have fallen and those who have survived. It was there that we began the process of uniting to articulate a shared vision of the world we want to live in.

Cleveland reaffirmed what we already knew. Neither our grievances nor our solutions are limited to the police killing of our people. State violence takes many forms – it includes the systemic underinvestment in our communities, the caging of our people, predatory state and corporate practices targeting our neighborhoods, government policies that result in the poisoning of our water and the theft of our land, failing schools that criminalize rather than educate our children, economic practices that extract our labor, and wars on our Trans and Queer family that deny them their humanity. On the last day of the conference hundreds gathered to have strategy conversations about what liberation would look like and the policies, organizing and resources that would be needed to get us there. During those conversations we received a mandate – it was time to articulate our vision and unite behind it.

In response to this mandate, the Movement for Black Lives Policy Table engaged in a year long process of convening local and national groups to create a United Front. The result of our collective efforts is this platform.

From Black Lives Matter protest, Nashville, Nov. 2014, photo by NR Davis

The Platform covers more than 30 policies and includes policy briefs that describe various steps the groups suggest are necessary for substantive progress to occur. The document takes a multi-level approach, addressing concerns from local, state and federal standpoints. And it highlights groups at work and shares resource information, including model legislation and talking points.

Organizers say The Platform is needed because “the U.S. is a country that does not support, protect or preserve Black life. And so we seek not reform but transformation.”

…[W]e also recognize that neither mainstream political party has our interests at heart. We know all too well that the reforms that have passed at the local and state level do not address the root causes of the killing, dehumanization, and torture of our people. Instead, many increase police budgets and diagnosis the problem as one of “implicit bias” or “bad apples.” At best these are band aids on gaping bullet wounds, and at worse they are interventions that simply increase corporate and state power and make it easier for the state to devalue and destroy our communities.

Read The Platform in its entirety here. If you wish to join the effort and endorse the document as an individual or organization, there are links on the site that will permit you to do so.

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