“Can we build a movement of millions with the people who may not grasp our black, queer, feminist, intersectional, anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist ideology but know that we deserve a better life and who are willing to fight for it and win?”
For the sake of Black people everywhere, for the sake of a future we want to live in, the answer must be yes.
Alicia Garza is the Special Projects Director for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, the nation’s leading voice for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States. She, along with Opal Tometi and Patrisse Cullors, also co-founded the Black Lives Matter network, a globally recognized organizing project that focuses on combatting anti-Black state-sanctioned violence and the oppression of all Black people.
“Black Lives Matter is an ideological and political intervention in a world where Black lives are systematically and intentionally targeted for demise,” Alicia says in the Herstory of the Black Lives Matter Movement. “It is an affirmation of Black folks’ contributions to this society, our humanity, and our resilience in the face of deadly oppression.”
Not Black? Think this movement doesn’t effect you? Think again. No one is on the sidelines for this, and no one can afford to let Black Lives Matter be sidelined.
“When Black people cry out in defense of our lives, which are uniquely, systematically, and savagely targeted by the state, we are asking you, our family, to stand with us in affirming Black lives. Not just all lives. Black lives,” says Alicia. “Please do not change the conversation by talking about how your life matters, too. It does, but we need less watered down unity and a more active solidarities with us, Black people, unwaveringly, in defense of our humanity. Our collective futures depend on it.”
To collectively create the new paradigms we envision for the world, it is necessary for us to become educated allies of the Black Lives Matter movement, regardless of our race. To think this crucial issue could be skirted would be a grave mistake for all marginalized groups seeking to rise above.
As the New Yorker notes, Alicia “…dismisses the kind of liberalism that finds honor in nonchalance.” Alicia says, “No, I want you to care. I want you to see all of me.”
As a queer Black woman, Alicia Garza’s leadership and work challenge the misconception that only cisgender Black men encounter police and state violence. While the tragic deaths of Trayvon Martin and Mike Brown were catalysts for the emergence of the BLM movement, Alicia is clear:
“In order to truly understand how devastating and widespread this type of violence is in Black America, we must view this epidemic through of a lens of race, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity.”
We must strive to really see each other, to honor each other, and more than that, we must credit each other’s contributions to the struggle, not just toot our own horns. We must acknowledge the systematic oppression Black women and their communities have endured, and the work they have done and continue to move all of us towards a more just future. And we must lift them up for it, instead of simply jumping on their shoulders.
“When we are able to end hyper-criminalization and sexualization of Black people and end the poverty, control, and surveillance of Black people, every single person in this world has a better shot at getting and staying free. When Black people get free, everybody gets free.” – Alicia Garza
May it be so. We hope you’ll join us in vocal and active support of Black Lives Matter, and join us to see Alicia Garza in person at Emerging Women Live 2017, October 5-8th in Denver, CO.