There are a number of things in this world we cannot measure with metrics, time, or money making it difficult to account for their effectiveness or worth – allyship has always been one of those things. When it comes to allies, there are more questions around their purpose and usefulness than there are answers. Enter the Safety Pin Box, countering everything allies thought their role actually was.
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.
“Why do we accept forms of security that are rooted in violence?” – Angela Davis, Lecture at University of Chicago November 2016
When I first learned of prison abolition it was from Angela Davis during a lecture she gave at my college campus in 2009. The concept of prison abolition seemed so large and out of reach and it wasn’t something I put much thought into until this year, but a defeatist attitude isn’t what abolished slavery – so who am I to doubt the possibilities of abolition?
On Friday, the world learned that Fidel Castro, at 90 years old, had died. Over the days since, I have learned more about both the revolutionary and the tyrant than I did in school. Honestly, I have more questions than answers.
I am by no means an expert on Fidel Castro or the longstanding political conditions in Cuba but I do believe that we should advance radical ideas in the pursuit of justice; and to do so, we have to study.
For those of us who consider ourselves believers in social justice, reckoning with the Thanksgiving holiday can easily become hairy.
On the one hand, it is a rare opportunity for families, particularly those that are working class, to come together, eat delicious food (depending on who makes it) and strengthen their bonds. And yet, as law enforcement officers pepper spray Native activists at Standing Rock, set dogs on them and hose them down in frigid temperatures, the guilt behind grabbing a Turkey leg and proclaiming ‘Happy Thanksgiving’ has, for some of us, become much more difficult to ignore.
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.
Regardless of where you are in your political education, Ava DuVernay’s documentary The 13th was pretty well done.
Weaving the staggering numbers of rising incarceration rates with the insights of prominent activists, journalists, and academics coupled with a soundtrack that highlights the connectedness of mass incarceration to Black realities, it is a signature piece of art imitating life. The 13th brought many conversations around systematic racism that usually happen in select circles to a potentially larger audience, but I’m not sure if anyone besides the usual “woke” circle sat in on this one, and if they did – what now?
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.
On Thursday, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates announced in a memo that, over time, the DOJ will end its contracts with private prison companies that operate 13 facilities within the Bureau of Prisons (BOP). While this is a significant move given the times we live in, these contracts, with Corrections Corporation of America and GEO Group Inc., only account for 7% of the industry’s revenue.