The images of battered and bullet-ridden Black bodies pile up in our consciousness. Barely is there time to protest, mourn or gather our shattered selves before another assault upon our collective humanity unfolds. These snapshots of callous and murderous brutality begin with skittles and ice tea and continue to mount with a bullet- riddled car,a teenage woman with her face blown off, a man left to die from an illegal chokehold, a Wal-Mart shopper gunned down for holding a toy gun-while-Black, a woman savagely pummelled by police on the side of the road, a teenager shot with his hands up in the air, and a woman 8 months pregnant put in a chokehold for grilling food in front of her own home. And, these are just the few crime scenes that have fully surfaced into a body count which includes countless men, women, and children. The heartbreaking images of grieving fathers and mothers, of distraught families and communities bears the indescribable awareness that the life-long sorrow they now confront has everything to do with the precarious conditions under which Black people live. These images tell us what we know but are told not to say: that the devaluation of Black life is ongoing and is anything but post-racial.
As a collective of individuals who have recently come together to urge for a fundamental realignment of the President’s racial justice agenda, we firmly maintain that ALL Black folk deserve better policies, better opportunities, and better resources to combat the systemic and institutionalized visions of anti-Blackness that have for so long shaped the ill-treatment of Black people and the communities from which we hail. The foundational point of this is that Black lives matter: girls and boys, men and women, heterosexual or same-gender loving, transgender, the poor, the middle class, the well-off, the disabled, and the immigrant. These commitments are foundational to the affirmative vision of racial justice that demands our attention. No effort or initiative can be up to the task of speaking to this particularly tragic moment without lifting up the vulnerability of the entire community with interventions across the board that name and confront racial injustice head on.
The question that burns is what is to be done? Do we as a people move against the physical, social, and ideological assaults we are witnessing — or do we acquiesce to a tried and failed respectability agenda predicated on the belief that putting our hands up even higher in the air will save us? Do we see and confront the reality that our collective fate is set by dynamics that affect us as a whole in the communities we live in, in the families we maintain, and the institutions within which we are situated? If our collective fate is understood, then we must work collectively to end racial injustice, a goal that can only be grasped by resisting racism in all of its destructive permutations.
We offer our sincere condolences to all the families who have lost loved ones, our support to those who have survived all forms of violence, and our solidarity with those in Ferguson and across the country who are demanding police accountability and societal responsibility to end these tragedies. We join all others who call for a peace that reflects the presence of justice, not quietude in the face of intolerable injustice.