While I am happy the students of the Parkland Massacre have been so well received, I must admit I feel cheated.
The many calls to action for gun control and reform by the Black community seemed to fall on deaf ears. We organized, marched in the streets, protested on social media, but support was limited to thoughts and prayers. The ability to donate to Black Lives Matter passively through our Amazon purchases is nice, but nothing compared to the large donations of $500,000 each by Oprah, The Clooneys, and countless others. The outpouring of public support, rallying of officials to openly commit to making changes, and then implementing them is unprecedented. BLM never received more than the utterance of three words during opportune moments in the political spotlight where it would only serve to benefit politicians who paid our community dust. Through all of this, the media continues to paint these young activists as the new bastion of civil rights leaders and that leaves an ugly stain on my heart. I am not angry with their success, just curious — Where was the support for Black Americans struggling to make sense of our nation in the aftermath of countless deaths?
In 2013, African-Americans stood by in horror, grief, and rage as George Zimmerman was acquitted of the heinous shooting death of Trayvon Martin. This event prompted the use of #BlackLivesMatter across all social media platforms but the group would not take center stage until the demonstrations surrounding the events of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson. After countless hashtags to raise awareness about the massacre of unarmed Black citizens that followed, Black Lives Matter has struggled to gain ground in their good fight to unite our community to crush the systems of oppression that guard privileged White Americans. To their detriment and our own, we have been out-organized and the truth of this is laid bare when evaluating the progress high school students with proper support are making. BLM lacks the political representation, wealth, and notable endorsements of other movements which continues to cripple our progress, but there’s room for growth.
This is in no way a means to discredit or detract from past, current, or future actions taken by BLM. This is also not meant to direct any negativity toward the hundreds of students and families affected by the Parkland tragedy. I am simply using them as examples of community efforts seeking change for the sake of comparison. Having visited BLM’s website as recently as Feb. 27th, 2018, it remains out of date with no posts since January 30th. Their ‘Channel Black’ programming initiative hasn’t had new content since 2017. Even the official BLM shop has yet to launch. The three queer black women who formed BLM are not enough and should not be expected to be enough to support the weight of an entire revolution. This is where community involvement comes in. This is where local politicians and leaders are expected to stand in the gap as representatives for their respective communities to rally for political change. While this process is arduous, it’s where we lacked the representation. However, the opportunity to break the wheel has come in the form of mid-term elections.
Time for Change
Politics are an avenue where Black Americans across the country need support. Motivated by the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election, more people of color are running for office in 2018 than in previous years. Although not all represent our values or have our best interests at heart (looking at you Stacey Dash), we owe it to them to do our due diligence and take into consideration that as a culture we are attempting to navigate a system that is not invested in our success. While I anticipate positive results from these mid-term elections, I say this with the utmost affection and respect for my people—We need to do a better job of holding each other accountable. We must be as fervently involved in our communities as our Caucasian counterparts. We have to respect and participate in the political process regardless of whether we believe it is manipulated or that results are pre-determined. 503 Black women are running for federal, state, and local seats in the US government. 285 of them are running in red states. We owe it to ourselves not to fail these or any other person of color candidate that means to truly serve the people.
What do you think we can do as a community to continue marching toward success? Will you be voting this year?
The Best Tributes You Didn’t See On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day 2021
Every year as the United States celebrates the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his lasting legacy, we see social media platforms littered with various MLK quotations, “love one another” captions, you know – the general bulls**t we all wish we didn’t have to see on an annual basis.
What we don’t see enough are actual dialogues about who MLK was and the type of radical he actually was. He was not a martyr – he died as the State turned a blind eye to the obvious plots against his life. He was not a capitalist – he died firmly abhorring capitalism. Toward the end of his life, he even grew increasingly concerned with Israel and its treatment of Palestinians.
MLK’s memory and legacy have been sanitized to make white Americans feel less guilty about their treatment of Black Americans and their complicity in white supremacy and its many atrocities. In his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail,” Dr. King stated in no uncertain terms “that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice…”
Every third Monday in January those white folks more committed to order than to justice put themselves on full display. They proudly wave their “I’m not racist!” flag in Black folks’ faces, as if we give a damn about their shallow tweet that quotes a radical they know nothing about or their vapid, over-filtered selfie on Instagram captioned by a “deep, thoughtful” Martin Luther King, Jr. quotation.
Instead of carrying on about the commercialism of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let’s take a look at a few of the best non-performative tributes the internet provided this year.
Mob of Trump Supporters Storm U.S. Capitol, Sending Congress Into Lockdown
On Wednesday afternoon an angry mob of Trump supporters, white supremacists, and what this website is calling “terrorists” stormed the United States Capitol as members of Congress were in session.
Earlier in the day, President Trump spoke to a crowd of several thousand at an event in Washington, D.C. called the “Save America March.” Of course, as you know, since he lost the November election to Joe Biden, he has vigorously promoted various unfounded conspiracy theories that the election was rigged and somehow stolen from him. Without a single shred of evidence to back up his claim, he rambled on in front of his supporters for over an hour, charging that he lost due to widespread voter fraud. At one point, he told the crowd:
“Now it is up to Congress to confront this egregious assault on our democracy… I think right here we’re going to walk down to the Capitol and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and our congressmen and women, and we’re probably not going to be cheering so much for some of them. Because you’ll never take back our country with weakness. You have to show strength, and you have to be strong.”
Shortly after the event concluded, videos flooded the internet of the mob not only attacking police, but also walking past multiple police barricades – sometimes at the invitation of police. They eventually scaled walls, smashed windows, and broke down doors as they raided the Capitol Complex. Meanwhile, Congress recessed and went into an immediate lockdown, interrupting their largely procedural vote to certify the electoral results of the 2020 presidential election.
Many Twitter users were quick to point out the glaring disparity in law enforcement’s treatment of these terrorists with their treatment of Black Lives Matter protesters last summer. As you’ll recall, Trump ordered police use tear gas and rubber bullets when clearing a crowd outside the White House all for a photo op with a Bible.
Throughout the afternoon, many around the world watched as the Capitol grounds became unrecognizable in a sea of Trump flags and other white supremacist colors. For over 4 hours, the terrorists were allowed to roam freely throughout government halls. Many proudly posed for pictures inside congressional offices, on the floors of Congress, and throughout the halls. In one video, a police officer inside a building gave a thumbs up as he posed for a selfie with a terrorist. The scenes that came out of this insurrection were jarring for many.
For over two hours following the terrorists’ rushing of the Capitol, President Trump was completely silent on the matter. As more time passed, it became apparent that he would not make any serious attempts to quell the violence unfolding in his own backyard. All Americans got was a now-deleted video posted to social media in which Trump told the mob, “I know your pain. I know you’re hurt. We had an election that was stolen from us… It was a landslide election, and everyone knows it – especially the other side. But you have to go home now… We love you. You’re very special.”
Of course the President of the United States calling armed insurrectionists “very special” lit people up. Today’s events were the last straw for many; even with only two weeks left in office, he still managed to make more enemies than he already had.
By the time police finally decided to respond, the mayor had already put a 6pm curfew in place. Despite multiple law enforcement agencies clearing the Capitol and blocking the area around it, terrorists still hung around the complex well into the evening. It wasn’t until 8pm – over 8 hours after the siege began – that Congress was able to return to counting the electoral votes (they didn’t finish the count until nearly 4am).
When all was said and done, law enforcement made 52 arrests, safely detonated at least 2 pipe bombs found at the RNC and DNC headquarters, arrested a suspect connected to a vehicle found with firearms, ammunition, and explosives, and confirmed 4 terrorists died.
Photo Credit: Julio Cortez/AP
Steve Bannon Arrested on Border Wall Fundraising Scheme
Steve Bannon, Donald Trump’s former political adviser, and three other leaders of the“We Build the Wall” online fundraising campaign have been indicted on wire fraud and money laundering charges by federal prosecutors.
Federal agents and officials from the United States Postal Inspection arrested Bannon while he was on a boat located off the eastern coast of Connecticut.
Bannon is expected to make his initial court appearance in New York later today, according to the US attorney’s office. Bannon’s attorney, Bill Burck, declined to comment on the matter.
Audrey Strauss, acting Manhattan U.S attorney, issued the following statement:
“As alleged, the defendants defrauded hundreds of thousands of donors, capitalizing on their interest in funding a border wall to raise millions of dollars, under the false pretense that all of that money would be spent on construction. While repeatedly assuring donors that Brian Kolfage, the founder and public face of We Build the Wall, would not be paid a cent, the defendants secretly schemed to pass hundreds of thousands of dollars to Kolfage, which he used to fund his lavish lifestyle. We thank the USPIS for their partnership in investigating this case, and we remain dedicated to rooting out and prosecuting fraud wherever we find it.”
According to the charges, Kolfage—one of the crowdfunding organizers, spent more than $350,000 of the donations on personal expenses. These expenses include a luxury SUV, a golf cart, cosmetic surgery, home renovations, jewelry, personal tax payments, and credit card debt.
The four individuals being charged—Bannon, Kolfage, Andrew Badolato, and Timothy Shea—are charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering, CNN reports.