#CallThemIn: Introduction to Movement For Black Lives, Racial Injustice and White Supremacy

This is the first document for the #CallThemIn social project.

#CallThemIn in the next collaborative social project from the Well Examined Life. We are hoping to encourage honest conversations about racial injustice and white supremacy across the country.

To get involved in this project please go here: https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/callthemindc?source=direct_link&referrer=aaron-goggans

Below is an brief overview of the Movement for Black Lives. It will be a convenient starting place for many communities but not for all. Please check out the Washington Peace Center for more potential resources for your event.

What is the Movement for Black Lives:

The Movement for Black Lives is many things to many different people. Perhaps the best way to understand it is to divide it into three aspects. In its crudest sense it is a campaign that launched a national organization that ignited a movement. #BlackLivesMatter was started by three veteran queer Black women organizers Alicia Garza, Opel Tometi and Patrisse Cullors in response the Trayvon Martin verdict. The story of the creation of the hashtag and subsequent movement can be found at Herstory of a Black Lives Matter Movement. It was created to raise awareness about State Sanctioned Violence against ALL Black people. As Black Lives Matter started to see other organizations take up their call, people began to use the phrase the Movement for Black Lives to distinguish between the organizations they founded and the overall, broader movement.
Though the most visible narrative is around police killings of Black people, state sanctioned violence includes any form of physical, financial or emotional violence perpetrated, supported or enabled by the state. This means that homelessness, marginalized labor, urban displacement, sexual assault on college campuses, limited access to birth control and abortions, immigration detention centers and school closings are examples of State Sanctioned Violence.
Eventually, the three founders of the campaign created a national organization. This national organization was responsible for busing organizers and activists to Ferguson after the execution of Michael Brown and was instrumental in making it a national issue. They have since created over 30 chapters across the country for groups of Black people who want to organize around state sanctioned violence through an intersectional queer Black feminist lens. Black Lives Matter DMV is one such member chapter.
The campaign has been pushed by the national organization and its local chapters and affiliated Black organizations to be a movement. To paraphrase #BlackLivesMatter co-founder Patrisse Cullors, the goal of the Movement for Black Lives is to breathe life into the Black Liberation Movement. Black Liberation is the process of individual and collective Black empowerment geared towards ending systemic oppression in all aspects of Black life which will lead to a more stable and healthy planet for everyone. Due to the history of oppression in America and unequal power and wealth distributions that are a result of that history, this process necessitates basic and simple concessions in the everyday life of white people, men and other privileged groups. Notably, it will entail the removal of unearned privileges and hierarchies of power.
In many ways, the Movement for Black Lives is a re-envision of the Black Liberation movement by a younger generation with a more diverse set of life experiences and identities and the gift of historical hindsight. The Black Lives Matter movement now exists beyond the scope of the original founders and includes an ideologically diverse group of coalitions, organizations and affinity groups that are using different tactics and strategies to push variations of the same dream of Black Liberation. In DC some of the Black Lives Matter groups include Stop Police Terror Project DC, ThinkMoor, Onyx, and Black Lives Matter DMV as well as various non-Black solidarity groups.

Below are some simple definitions of terms that might help you in your conversations:

Privilege: is a right, advantage, immunity selectively granted to individuals or groups based not on merit but on perceived membership in a group. Privilege is not something inherent in a person, meaning white skin does not grant special rights, advantages or immunities. Rather a more accurate definition would be to say, we live in society in which being perceived as white gives one access to certain rights, advantages and immunities based on positive stereotypes associated with whiteness .
Ethnicity: is a socially defined idea that divides humanity into different groups based on individual’s belief that they share a common history, culture, language, geography or ancestry. Han Chinese, Welsh, Bantu, and Jewish are all examples of ethnic categories in America. Generally speaking, people have both a race and an ethnicity. For instance, Black is a race while African-American, Afro-Caribbean, and Bantu are ethnicities that are “raced Black” or included in the understanding of Blackness in America.
Race: is a socially defined idea [i.e. a social construct] that divides humanity into different groups based physical appearance [i.e. phenotypes]. Black, White, Asian and Latino are example of racial categories in America.
Racial Prejudice: is a type belief that individuals can have, an impact that institutions and organizations can have and a socially defined series of interpersonal scripts, stereotypes and beliefs that individual, groups and institutions interact with that holds that certain positive or negative characteristics are inherent in or typify members of different races.

Racism: is racial prejudice held by, perpetuated by, or used by individuals, groups or institutions with racial privilege. In short, it is prejudice + power. It’s distinction from racial prejudice is important for several reasons, chief among them is the disparate impact and weight that prejudice has on individuals, groups, institutions and society as a whole when backed by systematic privilege. Due to white supremacy, which holds white people has inherently more authorative figures, white people displaying racial prejudice has a much more damaging effect than Blacks or Asians doing the same.

Racial Hierarchy: is a socially defined idea in which different races have different levels of privilege and access to power, institutions, or wealth. In some societies, racial hierarchy is strictly regimented and codified like the separation of Whites, Coloreds and Blacks in Apartied South Africa. In others, like the modern day United States, racial hierarchy is a more fluid spectrum of various privileges and oppressions based on perceived race.

White Supremacy: is a specific form of racial hierarchy in which white people hold a position of privilege, power, and prestige over other races granting them greater access to political power, wealth, and other forms of social currency. This often leads to what is called “the normalization of whiteness” is which people perceived as white are set up as the standard and other races are deviations [i.e. describing your white friend as tall and your Black friend as Black].
Intersectionality: is a way of looking at systems of oppression like racism, xenophobia [a fear of foreigners], sexism, transphobia or homophobia that recognizes that the complex nature of human identity means that you cannot fully explain one form with placing it in context with other forms of oppression. For instance Barack Obama is simultaneous oppressed as Black and granted privileges due to class, gender, sexuality, national origin, able-bodiness etc.
Anti-Black Racism: a form of racial hierarchy in which perceived Blackness or proximity to Blackness, places one at the bottom of said racial hierarchy.

One thought on “#CallThemIn: Introduction to Movement For Black Lives, Racial Injustice and White Supremacy

  1. Pingback: #CallThemIn: Sample Agenda | The Well Examined Life

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