Tuesday, December 16, 2014

#BlackLivesMatter: A Call To (Resistance) Action.

Alicia Garza along with her two sisters Patrisse Marie Cullors-Brignac and Opal Tometi are co-founders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. On February 26, 2012 George Zimmerman, a self-proclaimed vigilante and son of a Florida Judge assassinated Trayvon Martin, an unarmed African American (Black) teenager. Zimmerman's subsequent and complete acquittal (of all charges) left a deafening silence where Justice should have echoed. In come the movement whisperers....

"I created #BlackLivesMatter with Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi, two of my sisters, as a call to action for Black people after 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was post-humously placed on trial for his own murder and the killer, George Zimmerman, was not held accountable for the crime he committed. It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements." Alicia Garza, The Feminist Wire, October 7, 2014.

Most of us went on with our daily lives bruised and defeated by our ignored protest(s), walks, marches, rallies and public denouncement of the Legal Systems' failure to serve justice in the case of Trayvon Martin. Garza, Cullors and Tometi were hard at work creating and structuring a call to lead action in defense of all Black life. #BlackLivesMatter is a call to document, real-time the value of Black life to be the narrators of our own stories and illustrators of our own image(s). Mainstream media has always watered down and diminished Black resistance movements to anti-Black racism. Alicia clearly states above "It was a response to the anti-Black racism that permeates our society and also, unfortunately, our movements."

It wasn't until the murder of another Black unarmed teenager, Michael Brown that I learned of #BlackLivesMatter yet its full meaning would not reveal itself until I became part of the tide - which rises out of the dark waters onto the shore in large mass.

"Out of the dark...into the streets!" This was one of the many chants Mount Holyoke College students shouted in unison as we marched up Morgan Street leaving the campus and spilling onto the main intersection where we would block traffic. The December 4th, 2014 United We Stand Divided We Fall: An MHC Day of Action event was organized by three powerful students: Dianna Tejada, a senior Africana Studies major, gender studies and cognitive neuroscience double minor, Melanie Wilkerson - a senior sociology major and Carihanna Morrison - a junior East Asian Studies Major.
Left to right: Melanie Wilkerson, Dianna Tejada, Carihanna Morrison

This fearsome trio led Mt. Holyoke College Students in a Day of Action which began with a 12:30 pm "Die-in" at Blanchard Campus Center picking up at 4:00 P.M. with a March and Rally through the center of downtown Hadley where rush hour evening traffic was blocked and backed up into Holyoke, Amherst and Granby, MA.

#BlackLivesMatter, social media conversation hub turned mass movement dictates we carve out [public] space to interrupt business as usual...

Me: "Dianna, how did you become involved in #BlackLivesMatter?"

Dianna: "I became involved specifically during the Ferguson October call for solidarity. A group of six of us drove to Ferguson to protest, march, dialogue and organize for when we got back to Western Mass. I have always been a fighter for justice and social equity for all oppressed people; because as the chant says 'The whole damn system is guilty as hell.' "

Me: "What was your goal for Thursday's event(s)

Dianna: "Our goal for Thursday was to interrupt the business as usual BS we saw on campus. So many people were (and continue to be) so submerged in their privilege that they are unable to sympathize or recognize the way the (in)justice system has wronged Black and Brown folks since the inception of the "New World". "

Me: "Why spill out into pubic spaces IE: downtown intersection blocking traffic?"

Dianna: "Because if the victim's families are unable to go on with business as usual, neither should we."

Me: "Share your most memorable moment from the day of action."

Dianna: "The most memorable moment was during the staged die-in, watching white students walk over the bodies of students of color and our allies as if there was nothing wrong with it. Some of them huffed and puffed and even glared at students who were on the ground in disgust because we were finally taking up space, finally fighting back. It was beautiful seeing all of the students of color and our allies standing together in solidarity."

Me: "Why did you see fit to hand your bull-horn to my 10 year old little girl?"

Dianna: "As as child, I was made to feel my voice didn't matter, that I couldn't change the world. I know the importance in letting younger folks recognize they are leaders NOW and that they CAN lead, they CAN change the world, and they they are who we need to have on the front lines learning how to mobilize people - no matter the age difference. Young people have power, agency, skills we all need to learn from and I saw that fire in her. So, I wanted her to have the chance to lead the group."

Although this is only one of the many actions I have attended..it was by far the most memorable for my daughter and I.

One trio in the San Francisco Bay Area set off sonar codes of conduct, reverberating in all four directions magnetically calling trios of women in solidarity with Mike Brown and the countless innocent Black people who have been murdered due to state sanctioned violence....and this is only the beginning.

My most memorable moment on Dec. 4, 2014... Dianna, Kala, my daughter and I were in my car. The march/rally was over and I was driving the ladies to the Holyoke Mall to join other five college students in an action which was to take place. Kala Jones, another Mt. Holyoke College student who also participated in the "die-in" stated:

"During the die-in at Mount Holyoke, at least one hundred students laid on the ground while one of the organizers called out names of people who died due to police brutality. No matter how long I stayed on the ground the floor never got warm. The cold feeling reminded me of what all of this rallying is all about. The long list of names sounded like a graduation but, it wasn't graduation..."

Close your eyes and (non-verbally) repeat the following until it echoes in your spirit:

- Assata Shakur

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