Speech at United Congregational Church, 12/12/14

Why are you here?

Are you here because you saw people marching on the news, because you saw someone on the street, because you feel guilty, or because you believe – because you know –  that we deserve our freedom?

If you are not here to fight for freedom, I do not need you here at all.

When Trayvon Martin was killed it brought the conversation of white supremacy and racism out of the shadows and living rooms and into the streets and national television. When we saw the strength, bravery and courage of The Dream Defenders we were encouraged. When Marissa Alexander was incarcerated for firing a warning shot under the same Stand Your Ground law that allowed George Zimmerman to walk we were disgusted, and we continued to stay alert and organize. When Jordan Davis was killed. When Renisha Mcbride was killed. When Eric Garner was killed. But on August 9th of this year when Michael Brown was killed, shot over 6 times in the head by officer Darren Wilson, three queer black women formed Black Lives Matter and picked up that long dormant torch, raised their voices, and shook the country. Each day people marched in Ferguson and protested, inspiring us to raise our voices. Each day more black people were killed. Each day protesters asked for justice. Protesters stood at police stations, in the streets, went to the United Nations, went to Geneva Switzerland and even recently met with President Barack Obama, but the politics of the US have not changed. The police departments, from Holyoke to Ferguson have not changed. But we have changed.

Our generation has rediscovered the meaning behind words like resistance, power, liberation, justice and solidarity. We are not asking for anything. We are demanding equality. We will no longer be silent. Every 28 hours a black or brown person is killed in the United States by police. Over 1,100 people have been deported every day under Obama. There are 2.3 million people currently living behind bars, in cages. Massachusetts has a $500 million dollar bond to create more prisons.

Two days ago the CIA torture report came out – people have been being waterboarded, shackled to walls for over 17 days, force fed, starved, beat and tortured for years. We now know that most of the men in Guantanamo Bay did not commit any crimes, but are simply being held for being Muslim.

The Fukushima meltdown in 2011 left the land and water more radioactive than ever and we have no way of knowing how to clean it up.

In the mostly black city of Detroit over 40% of people have had their water turned off.

In Springfield people are already being displaced from their homes to make way for the casino that will only bring more destruction to the community.

These cops are killing us and the system is killing us.

So

What future is left for us?
It is the future that we create. And it will be a space of equality. And the leaders of this movement are primarily women, and are wholly, unapologetically, black. Fists up, fros out black and brown survivers of over 500 years of forced labor, assimilation, colonization, european schooling, second class status. Enough is enough.

Whose America is this?

Like my brother Eric Garner said to officer Daniel Pantaleo, this ends today.
From today, we will march side by side with you demanding equal respect and access to resources. Today, we will have bread, food, clothing, housing and water. Today, we will have our freedom, or today, you will have our rage.

 

 

Solidarity,
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