Friday, August 1, 2014

Justice NOT Just-Us

     Sisters and brothers - what I am about to share with you is ‪#‎realtalk‬. I hope you are enlightened and accept my words as sound analysis, encouragement and advice to advance our causes and our community. This comes from a place of love. Please open your heart and mind, absorb, reflect.
     We are watching in horror as fellow human beings are being massacred by the scores in Gaza. We are outraged. We feel helpless. We continue to chastise our government for supporting such atrocities. We ask ourselves where is humanity, why are our leaders looking the other way. What are we doing wrong and how can we alleviate the suffering of our people.
     While we work to bring morality back to society and in to the political arena - let us keep in mind it is a slow and enduring process. We live in a country in which slavery was legal. Some people were seen as sub-human. The dehumanization of Blacks allowed slavery to continue for more than two centuries. It took blood, dead bodies, lynching, protesting, risk taking to recognize (first) a Black man as human and a citizen. This did not come over night. We went through segregation, Jim Crow South, The New Jim Crow/mass incarceration and remnants of it still remain.
     Brothers and sisters - every few years Gaza/Palestine comes under attack. Hundreds lay scattered in the streets, thousands injured, entire neighborhoods leveled to the ground. We rise up - we become outraged, conflict continues for a few weeks. It ends. Then silence.
     Our opposition has two weapons: persistency and consistency. What are we doing every day to build the political power and political will for our causes? Are you a reactionary activist? are you born in time of crisis but when the pictures and videos of dead babies are no longer the first few posts on your feed - you go back to your every day life?
     Our commitment to justice for all is a contract we make every day. If you want to fight injustice you must step up and keep your head in the game. We will not win against injustice if we only rise when the injustice is against us. As my friend Fahd Ahmed articulately says all the time: Its about JUSTICE not JUST-US.
     We need to see the liberation of the Palestinian people connected to the liberation of all oppressed people. We must build solidarity across communities, issues and causes. We must be sincere in our work to build these relations.
For those in Detroit that are outraged over Gaza: Did you attend rallies to stand in solidarity with your fellow Americans who have been without running water? Did you join rallies for Renisha McBride who was murdered in cold blood after she knocked on a White man's door for help?

For those in Chicago: Have you ever joined a rally as City Hall shuts down schools in poor communities by the dozens? Have you stood side by side with communities of color denouncing gun violence that take the lives of young people every day?

For those in Arizona: Have you stood against Sheriff Arpaio, a man who terrorizes immigrant communities, where the prisons he runs have hundreds of human rights violations, a man who supports profiling of those who are suspect of being undocumented (which means most of you on my FB list)?

For those in New York City: Have you stood with the countless families who have lost their loved ones at the hands of the NYPD like Eric Garner, Ramarley Graham and Sean Bell? Stood side by side with families whose loved ones have been deported by the Obama Administration for "not having papers"? Stood with workers denied basic rights?
     Have you stood against the massacres in Syria? Against the oppression and persecution of Ahmaddiya Muslims? Shias? Persecution of Christians in Iraq? Killing of Muslims in Central African Republic? Burma? Stood to reform our nation's draconian immigration laws that tear families apart? discriminatory police practices? Drones? Guantanamo. The list goes on. You don't have to do it all. These are food for thought.
     Solidarity, building alliances are key to fighting injustice in all its forms and creating powerful coalitions that are multi-racial, multi-ethnic, interfaith and cross sector. This is POWER. This is where the shift begins.
     Mass mobilization. We need to be in the STREETS. We need to get out of the comfort of our homes, offices, neighborhoods and take it to the streets. We need to use mass mobilization to educate our fellow citizens about what is happening, about the injustice we are fighting against, and be clear about what we want and what people can do to join the fight. Mass mobilization sends a message to our government that we are angry and we won't take it anymore.
     Boycott Divestment Sanctions. It worked to end Apartheid in South Africa - why would it not work to pressure Israel to recognize the Palestinians, end military occupation and apartheid in Palestine?
     Electoral participation. How many of you have written an email to your Congressperson just to have your blood pressure rise? You angrily post about their response, you begin threatening them about reelection, then elections come around - what happens? Participating in elections are ONE WAY and a part of the larger puzzle. IT IS AN IMPORTANT PART of building power. If participation of communities of color wasn't something that threatened the political power dynamics - we would not be fighting voter suppression laws and practices across the country. The perfect candidate will not come during one election or in 4 years, it will take decades of organizing our community, our votes and our money. We have to be in it for the long haul.
     What I am saying Sisters and Brothers - stay engaged. Attend mass mobilizations, teach-ins, meet with your elected officials throughout the year not just when they are doing something wrong or a crisis is happening in the world, register to vote and VOTE on election day. Let's be reminded that our sisters and brothers in the Arab and Muslim world are being massacred for the chance at freedom and democracy - something that I cherish here in the United States as an American. By no means are we risking the same here. Shame on us when we let those few vote against our interests.
     For too often we stayed in our own bubbles. We lacked the strategy and the know-how to build new and fresh leadership and maintain momentum. Times are changing. Our time is now. Shift is happening. Don't walk away. Keep talking, keep walking, keep educating, keep building. The movement needs all of us.
     I want to take the time out to commend those who have invested so much in building the movement, committed themselves to justice and equality, sacrificed time with their families to make our world a better more just place. Your work does not go unnoticed. Gratitude and love to you all.
     It is now time to use our privileges and freedoms to be consistent, persistent, strategic social justice change makers. We have it in us. We need to RISE UP, STAY UP and not come down till everyone is able to RISE UP.

#Gaza #Palestine #changetheNYPD #timeisnow 

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