Open Letter to End Violence Against Black People
Open Letter To End Violence Against Black People
by Damita Brown
Our country's national crime is lynching. It is not the creature of an hour, the sudden outburst of uncontrolled fury, or the unspeakable brutality of an insane mob.
Ida B. Wells
They never stood trial. Their humanity was denied and their lives were taken. For centuries on end, black lives have been considered disposable. And the terror of white violence haunts our communities today. Rightfully so, protesters in Minneapolis call for charges of murder. They are demanding that the officers that murdered George Floyd are brought to justice. What kind of justice can mitigate the harm and the unbearable suffering that this history of violence has brought to bear on the black community in America? How can true justice endure? This question needs to be resolved with a national call for a truth and reconciliation commission. It is not enough to rely on a justice system that has consistently and systematically protected the blue code within the police regime. We know that organized elements of hate are rampant within our police forces in this country. We know that these policing bodies are abusing their power and executing Black men and women. These atrocities occur daily. We can no longer entrust our lives to this institutionalized brutality. Black communities most impacted by this violence must be at the center of any definition about true justice.
At least in deed, if not in name, these officers are part of a white supremacist group. If they’re not members now, they may well join if they’re convicted. What does justice look like if accountability cannot be exacted at the level of acknowledging the harm that one causes and committing oneself to repairing that harm? The capacity to cause this harm is one this society shares as a whole. It is not enough to try, charge, and convict these murderers. Justice demands that the cultural and structural violence that legitimates their actions is dismantled. We may march in the streets, as well we should, as we did with Michael Brown, as we did with Freddie Gray, Philando Castille, Eric Garner, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Breonna Taylor. But what is the mechanism that is driving this killing? As Freedom Inc Director M. Adams reminds us ‘Police are trained to protect property, not life, especially not Black life’.
This is a spectacle of white hate to satisfying their blood lust and rage against Black people. What are they trying to tell us by standing over these dead Black bodies. These videos being are part of all of our psyches now. It is terrorism. This mechanism goes beyond “I hate you.” It is also the feeling of the mob, it is smugness and the sense of satisfaction with raw, violent dominance. This is the spectacle that’s being played out. This is the way terror is indelibly imprinted into our minds. No one can unsee that murder. The spectacle has to terrorize, and our witnessing helps accomplish that terror. He was murdered in broad daylight for that reason. They wanted people to see it. The officer asked, ‘you’re a tough guy, aren’t you?’ This is about submission of black people in general. No, we will not submit. We will not bow down. We will stand together. What we need now is solidarity. If you’re outraged, if you’re afraid, if you’re heartbroken or confused, let whatever you’re feeling right now be your stepping stone to struggle for justice. Use that feeling as an act of grace -- it’s a gift of your humanity. Nothing you’re feeling right now needs to be put away or repressed. But we do need to make that feeling a viable place from which to launch collective action. Find your voice and write a letter to End Violence Against Black People. Find your courage and join the protests to amplify that voice. Muster your strength and offer support to Black leaders waging this struggle. Extend your kindness and generosity to the families who are bearing the brunt of this loss. And remember that these singular acts must be sustained with ongoing resistance, vigilance, and resolve. As long as this particular terrorist organization is allowed to take Black lives, commit yourself to its utter destruction and replacement.
Here are the demands for the Lettering writing campaign:
1. Remove all harmful punitive policies, practices, and people from school environments, including police, suspension, and expulsion.
2. We want public institutions to engage in 360 degree accountability through abolitionist restorative justice.
3. Support and fund a Black-lead committee with decision making and implementation power to remedy the deep patterns of harm caused by racist violence in all of its harms.
4. Using recommendations of said committee, invest in a campaign to decriminalize and humanize Black people.
5. Provide reparations to said committee to create educational initiatives for the Black community.
6. Provide reparations for Black land trusts and other remedies for gentrification and hyper-segregation.
7. Create a truth and reconciliation process to replace the punitive criminal justice system with abolitionist restorative justice.
8. Adopt the demands developed by the Movement for Black Lives.
To join the letter writing campaign, contact the Transformative Action Network committee (firstname.lastname@example.org).
To learn more about other actions in solidarity with the Minneapolis resistance, contact Freedom, Inc. (email@example.com)
Task Force to End Violence Against Black People is asking people to include these requests in their letters.