Often times, BLM gets a bad reputation. The media chooses when and how it wants to write about BLM.
Riots in the street.
Being rowdy at a city council meeting.
Shutting down freeways.
Confronting and stabbing white supremacists at a neo Nazi skinhead rally.
Shooting and killing cops at a protest.
Let’s clarify: Not every event, rally, protest or meeting that has #BlackLivesMatter on a sign or shirt is a BLM event. The phrase “Black Lives Matter” is something that is shouted loudly by many people and groups across the world that are not associated with any of the 37 BLM local chapters. Also, not everything BLM does gets reported, and what does get reported, mostly gets misconstrued.
As an example, at a Sacramento City Council meeting on October 13, 2016, the council was discussing a police use-of-force policy. The crowd was agreeing with public speakers by applauding. Then-Mayor Pro Tem Larry Carr who was running the meeting, asked for attendees not to applause while people were speaking. Shortly after, the crowd applauded while agreeing with one of the speakers. Carr shut down the meeting. The attendees were upset. While standing in that room, demanding that the councilmembers return to the chambers to continue the meeting, SacBee sent out a Breaking News update on their app with the headline: “Sacramento City Council meeting stopped after protestors turn rowdy.” THIS is precisely the issue -- media misconstrues and misrepresents BLM. It is not uncommon for attendees to applause at City Council meetings – it is a way to show support. Has applauding ever been banned and caused a meeting to shut down? After being called out for that misleading headline, SacBee later changed the name of the article. But at that point, it was too late. Everyone with the SacBee app in this city and beyond had already received that breaking news update that BLM was being “rowdy” and caused a City Council meeting to shut down. (Side note: I am not condoning or condemning rowdiness at meetings or rioting in the streets – that is a topic for another blog.)
But the righteous anger and rage of the people is always portrayed as a bad thing. Let’s get it right. Our rage, our energy, our sweat and our tears all serve one purpose: LIBERATION. And we do this work with mad, mad love. Alicia Garza, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter put it best: “Our movement is grounded in love.” It is love that fuels our rage and gives us energy to fight for liberation.
Locally, here in Sacramento, at least 81 people have died on the streets in 2016. And instead of responding with compassion and resources, our city council continues to criminalize homelessness. Our police are some of the most militarized in the country. Knowing this, it is no surprise that Sacramento Police Department has placed as the Urban Shield top performer for SWAT team last year. Our Sheriff Department actually gets millions of dollars annually from the federal government for deportations of undocumented people. In 2016, Sacramento law enforcement agencies took 11 lives. That is merely one person each month that dies at the hands of cops in this area. It is said that we have one of the HIGHEST rates of killings in America’s largest city police departments.
And that is just a sliver of what we are facing. How is your heart NOT hurting after reading all that? We feel this in the depths of our hearts. It is with so much love that we do what we can to fight for liberation. It is with so much love that we cry for all lives who have been lost to state violence. We love, we love, we love.
I want to leave you with BLM Guiding Principles. This is what BLM is about. Get your information directly from the source.
Diversity: We are committed to acknowledging, respecting and celebrating difference(s) and commonalities.
Restorative Justice: We are committed to collectively, lovingly and courageously working vigorously for freedom and justice for Black people and, by extension all people. As we forge our path, we intentionally build and nurture a beloved community that is bonded together through a beautiful struggle that is restorative, not depleting.
Unapologetically Black: We are unapologetically Black in our positioning. In affirming that Black Lives Matter, we need not qualify our position. To love and desire freedom and justice for ourselves is a necessary prerequisite for wanting the same for others.
Globalism: We see ourselves as part of the global Black family and we are aware of the different ways we are impacted or privileged as Black folk who exist in different parts of the world.
Collective Value: We are guided by the fact all Black lives, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location.
Transgender Affirming: We are committed to embracing and making space for trans brothers and sisters to participate and lead. We are committed to being self-reflexive and doing the work required to dismantle cis-gender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.
Black Women: We are committed to building a Black women affirming space free from sexism, misogyny, and male‐centeredness.
Black Villages: We are committed to disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, and especially “our” children to the degree that mothers, parents and children are comfortable.
Empathy: We are committed to practicing empathy; we engage comrades with the intent to learn about and connect with their contexts.
Black Families: We are committed to making our spaces family-friendly and enable parents to fully participate with their children. We are committed to dismantling the patriarchal practice that requires mothers to work “double shifts” that require them to mother in private even as they participate in justice work.
Loving Engagement: We are committed to embodying and practicing justice, liberation, and peace in our engagements with one another.
Queer Affirming: We are committed to fostering a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking or, rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual unless s/he or they disclose otherwise.
Intergenerational: We are committed to fostering an intergenerational and communal network free from ageism. We believe that all people, regardless of age, shows up with capacity to lead and learn.
Is your heart hurting too? Join us!
City of Sacramento, You're on Notice: Saturday, Jan. 7th, 2017, from 10am-1pm Click here for more info