On the cover of TIME Magazine’s special February edition is a faceless white man behind bars. At first glance, I assumed this was an issue about millionaires and billionaires who deserve jail time for getting over on society, but after a double take I saw that it is actually about wrongful convictions, celebrating 25 years of the Innocence Project.
State violence does not only show up as false arrests and physical harm. State violence is also the unwillingness of the State to rehabilitate those that are impacted by it’s terrorizing reach.
Unfortunately, we should now accept that Donald Trump will be President of the United States come January 20, 2017 (over a month later I’m still experiencing some disbelief in this truth). But what I won’t accept are his disingenuous attempts to be inclusive and to work for Black people.
“How many times do we expect Black people to build our country?” asked Samantha Bee on the episode of Full Frontal following the presidential election. I have asked this question many times and while I appreciate these sorts of sentiments from “woke” White comedians on a national level, at this point I don’t know that the jokes and the efforts to push the point carry much weight.
As a Lil’ Wayne fan, I’m disappointed, and I’m allowed to be.
After his recently shared interview with ABC’s Nightline, where Wayne expressed that he doesn’t feel connected to the Black Lives Matter movement, a lot of Black people reacted on social media and I think we all can admit, it was painful to watch. Many Black folks responded with “stop asking Lil’ Wayne questions about important things” or “what did you expect” from an artist like him? Well I expected more, to be honest, and to count him out of the conversation just because his answers don’t align with the current conversation around uplifting the Black community doesn’t seem right to me.
One thing I’ve learned is that in our efforts to push the Movement, we don’t have people to spare – why are we so opposed to calling him, and entertainers like him, in? Why are we so ready to throw them out, rather than challenge them?
It is true that the Movement for Black Lives is leaderless; it is also true that Deray McKesson has been dubbed the face of this same movement, and within his time as “The Face,” many people – including Black people – have come to critique his decisions. With his name most recently in the news for his endorsement of Hillary Clinton, we are given the gentle reminder that our community is not unified in its current demands and we cannot get caught up in the headlines that so often overshadow the work.
This past Tuesday would have been the second time the Chicago Teachers Union went on strike since Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office in 2011 – if there were a strike.
For weeks there has been conversation and preparation for a strike in Chicago Public Schools, the largest school district in the state and third largest in the nation, however Mayor Emanuel managed to avoid the fallout at the last second and both sides reached an agreement. CPS teachers will get pay raises, pensions, and job security. Legally teachers are only allowed to strike over pay and benefits, so how do we meet the needs of students?
Earlier this year BYP100 released the Agenda to Build Black Futures, followed by A Vision For Black Lives policy platform that they signed on to this summer, both of which spread wide in the digital space. Last week BYP100 and the National Black Justice Coalition joined each other in Washington, D.C. to take both platforms from the digital space to the congressional space for the first Build Black Futures Advocacy Day. This was a huge step in the Movement, as members of congress on both sides of the aisle have struggled to understand the Movement and it’s asks of our government.
Since 2004, Chicago has spent $642 million on police-related legal claims. Between 2012 and 2015, the City paid out a total of $210 million to settle police misconduct lawsuits, many on the receiving end of the settlements were Black and Brown folks. This is now the same city that will be hiring more police officers, putting more Black and Brown Chicagoans at risk. There is no nice way to say this, but Chicago is wasting its time – and money – hiring more police officers.
Diddy was the first rapper that influenced me to vote, even though I was too young I always appreciated a Black entertainer reaching out to me to tell me that my vote matters, and I very much recognized his Vote or Die campaign as outreach to young Black people.
In 2015, Diddy came out and said that voting is a “scam” and that our votes probably won’t change anything, followed by his comments earlier this week: that he expected Obama to do more for Black people in office. It sounds like Diddy has been receiving a strong dosage of political education and is now disappointed by the truth. This begs the question though: how much can a Black president really do for Black people?