Only one more day is left on the 2016 calendar, and it seems as though the world couldn’t be happier about it. From natural disasters to the election of Donald Trump to an overwhelming deluge of celebrity deaths, the past year has been quite the newsmaker with an abundance of poignant lows and only a smattering of profound highs (which is partially why it was so difficult to select only ten events to discuss.)
In less than a month, the first Black president of the United States will complete his final term. Undoubtedly, these past eight years under President Barack Obama provided a very powerful sense of representation to Black people who have survived over four centuries of violent dispossession largely in society’s shadows. With Obama occupying the highest office in the land, Black folks were able to forge important symbols of Black love, Black family, Black resilience, and Black success from which no one in the world could turn away—until now. Under the coming President Trump, Black communities will certainly be pushed farther into the dark once again.
By: Imani J. Jackson
To many millennials’ chagrin and not of our own doing, American capitalism continues to operate despite its negative impact on Black and Brown communities. Confronted with this economic system and sustained government violence against Black and Brown people, activists are increasingly combining traditional civil rights tactics, like protests and economic boycotts, with digital resistance.
I grew up in Oakland, California in the nineties and have been arrested and harassed by police more times in my life than I can count.
I have been one of the people running away when we heard the call, “5-0! 5-0!” signalling that, no matter what we were doing – lawful or otherwise – it was time to disperse because the police were coming. I have never needed videos showing other Black people being terrorized across the country to understand intimately the consequences of the State’s hypervigilant criminalizing of Black folx in Black ‘hoods. Frankly, I am confused why anyone, at this point, still does.
**This post references extremely graphic materials which may be triggering. Topics: racism, sexism, death, bestiality, misgendering**
To say that the language coming out of the Donald Trump campaign this election season has been obscene, racist, and sexist is an understatement. It has reached every depth of disgusting that political language could possibly reach (*cough* “p-ssy grab” *cough*). Even Trump’s surrogates have taken up the language of their leader.
Carl Paladino, President-elect Trump’s New York co-chair and ex-Republican candidate for NY Governor, recently suggested Michelle Obama was actually a man who should live in Africa with gorillas and that he would like President Obama to die of mad cow disease after Valerie Jarrett dies of decapitation.
I’m not making this up.
Yesterday morning, activist, creator and co-founder of Safety Pin Box Leslie Mac found her Facebook account temporarily suspended after writing the following post:
The post appears to be related to the Adam Saleh/Delta Airlines controversy. Mac took to Twitter to express her frustration, explaining to her followers that the post was likely flagged after actor Matt McGorry shared it on his profile–which apparently offended many of his white followers.
Her tweets were widely shared—over 1600 retweets—and shortly after, Facebook issued this apology:
It seems like a simple mistake, however this seems to be a common occurrence for activists who share their thoughts on Facebook, particularly those of color.
In September, New York Daily News writer Shaun King was blocked from accessing his account after posting a screenshot of a racist email sent to him. Facebook called that a ‘mistake’ too. Earlier in the year, Facebook deactivated Korryn Gaines’ profile upon request from the Baltimore Police Department—right before they shot and killed her.
All the while, posts containing racist language (and some threats) are routinely ignored by Facebook’s seemingly overzealous ‘community standards’ monitor. It would be quick and easy to place this blame solely on Zuckerberg et al (although they should start taking responsibility.)
However, all of these incidents are reflective of a much bigger problem: a cultural norm in which speech censorship targets people of color while protecting the speech that antagonizes them. Two decades ago, the Supreme Court ruled speech laws aimed at banning racial antagonism, like, for example burning crosses, unconstitutional in the landmark case R.A.V. vs. City of St. Paul.
And who can forget COINTELPRO, a covert program run by the FBI that tracked Civil Rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr., and Black Panther Party members like Huey Newton?
Even now, more and more Black Americans are finding themselves behind bars after being charged with “contempt of cop”—Ferguson PD’s way of punishing those who talk back to them during traffic stops, or record their encounters with smartphones.
American society only tolerates speech expressed by people of color so long as it does not upset the status quo, which is ironic, since the whole notion behind the passing of the First Amendment revolves around was to ensure that individuals who wanted to speak out against injustices could do so without fear of government persecution.
What happened to the likes of Mac, King and Gaines is terribly frustrating, but it is as American as apple pie, and highly likely to continue occurring.
I am blessed enough to work with a staff of young writers who inspire me every single day. They are graduate students, community activists, educators, and content producers who make my job as Managing Editor that much easier. So, I wanted to take some time to spotlight them and give you a chance to get to know them a little better.
Liz Adetiba (Contributing Writer), Jordie Davies (Assistant Editor), Alyx Goodwin (Contributing Writer), Akudo Mez (Social Media Coordinator), and Keith Reid-Cleveland (News Editor) are the core voices of Black Youth Project. I got the chance to ask them a few questions about their thoughts as we move out of 2016 and into 2017. Here are their responses:
By Jasmine Banks
“Taking the high road” is a myth and a distraction from revolution. It wasn’t even two days after the United States of America established Donald Trump as president that calls to “take the high road” started. The calls came from white folks who did and didn’t vote for Trump and Black folks who were seemingly embarrassed that the nation, yet again, held a referendum on Black folks and their humanity and confirmed that they could not vote for our wellbeing.
In fact, the ‘high road’ is covertly coded language that leads Black folks to believe that if they act in a way that others deem respectable, that we can elevate ourselves above our own oppression. Taking the high road applies pressure on the victims of oppression to modify their anger and rage in order to package their experiences and reactions for consumption and judgment. The fact is: how Black folks choose to express themselves should never be a measurement of their worthiness to live lives free of harm and domination.
I was one of those people who didn’t have the vocabulary or knowledge to understand my complex racial, gender, and sexual experiences until I was already in my (late) twenties. And my predominantly white college was the last place that I was going to figure any of that out.
In college, I fumbled through figuring out I was bisexual. I trudged through understanding how to love myself after I was sexually assaulted in high school. I even took years to figure out how the intersections of my identities made me predisposed to certain type of discrimination, harm, and violence. So, when I heard that Emory University was offering a course on “The Power of Black Self-Love,” it resonated with me so deeply.
It looks like it doesn’t take a lot to scare airline passengers, as a Muslim man was kicked off of a flight after allegedly speaking Arabic on the phone to his mother and making them “uncomfortable.”
Adam Saleh, who is actually a YouTube star with over 2 million subscribers, was on a Delta Airlines flight to New York City early Wednesday morning, according to Fusion. Saleh claims that after being asked by a flight attendant to lower his voice during the call, he was asked to step off of the plane. That’s when he began to livestream his experience.