Cut Down This Tree.
On Saturday, July 14th, a family in our community gathered to mourn and place a loved one to rest. Today we face a moment triggering a ritual we all know too well. Another Black man killed at the hands of police. We’ve shouted his name in a cry for justice and outrage as the narrative was shaped behind yellow caution tape barring the sidewalks meant for jumping rope and riding tricycles. The statement came, as it always has, with an indisputable justification, “I feared for my life”. We fight for scraps of evidence that might allow a glimmer of truth, a sliver of transparency or drop of justice. One that never comes.
So we press against this system we call the police. Which is here, they say, to keep us safe. Which is, if ever thought to be wrong, always right and never held to account. Which is accepted as intrinsically good and pure and holy. A great and mighty tree protecting us all, only ever sometimes guilty of perhaps a few bad apples. However, today we will not participate in this ritual. Today we begin a new tradition. A tradition of truth. One that ends with a reckoning. An ax, a saw.
It is time, to tell the truth of this diseased and decrepit tree. A tree born from a bad seed. A seed carried from our country's original sin. A system created to catch runaway slaves, redressed as one to catch rampant criminals that according to our most recent statistics, no longer exist. A system legitimized by propaganda lifting its poisonous fruit up as a necessary nutrient for a civilized society. One tightly woven to the greatest terrorist organization in our country’s history, a terrorist organization responsible for the lynchings of thousands of Black and Brown people, a terrorist organization that has never been tried for its crimes by any government security agency on earth.
We will no longer accept the lie that good apples grow on a diseased tree.
We are no longer intimidated by a sheriff who lobbied to remove a residency requirement allowing our town to be treated as a fish bowl for suburban-dwelling officers who commute into our city each day, then return to their homogeneous cul-de-sacs relying on stereotypes and willful ignorance to justify denying the humanity of communities that don’t look or feel like their own.
We are no longer afraid of the backlash of speaking out against police. As activists, we have seen and withstood the consequences of such and bore the brunt our criticism earned. We got the message that speaking out against police violence meant being ignored and intimidated. When we faced real danger in your community, including serial offenders who have targeted activists and police sympathizing nazis who perform drive-by shootings on peaceful protestors right in front of a police station, our call for help was not answered.
We refuse to continue to allow lopsided glorification of self-proclaimed self-sacrificing police officers as heroes and protectors of our city when our paramedics, our firefighters and our EMT’s risk their lives in the face of certain danger every day and manage not to kill us. When my carbon monoxide alarm rang late one night and firemen filled my home, my then five-year-old son peered up at them asking “Are you the police?”, to which the Minneapolis fireman responded, “No, we’re the good guys”. We will no longer stand silently intimidated as police grace themselves with an unearned badge of honor with one hand while killing our neighbors with the other.
This system is sick with unchecked power, stunted by cowardice and lack of discipline, drunk with the ignorant misery of its own making. The police system is complicit in every stain marking inequity in our city. Where do we go for public safety when our communities live in fear of this system? Who do we call when we are afraid of the police? When will our leaders finally admit that as our communities change, so should our systems, especially if they are detrimental to our health? This isn't about bad apples, this is about a diseased tree. A diseased and decrepit tree luring well-meaning, would-be valiant community servants into its branches, poisoning them with a deadly, dysfunctional separatist culture.
A diseased tree isn't changed, it is cut down. Changes in the culture of police are pointless if the culture comes from the root.
We need a new way. Our community knows what it takes to feel safe if only we listen, support, fund and implement the planting of new seeds of change. First, we must be willing to reveal and remove the rotting root of a racist system we’ve allowed to persist for too long.
Who will protect and serve us? Who will cut down this tree?
Minneapolis/St. Paul fit the Injustice Boycott's criteria for cities to be targeted early in the action.
Image Credit: University of Minnesota
Journalist/Activist Shaun King addressed Facebook Live viewers on the morning of Thursday, December 1, 2016, preparing them for the launch of the Injustice Boycott (IB) on Monday, December 5th. During his address, King made it clear that the organizers of the Injustice Boycott are keeping their cards close, disclosing very few details about the boycott until its launch. Just two days from the action, there are still many unknowns. It is unknown which cities and companies are being targeted, who all the boycott organizers are, and it is not known how supporters of this boycott will be asked to show up. What is known is that:
The Injustice Boycott will place demands on 3 cities at a time and boycott those cities until the demands are met. When one city meets its demands, its boycott will end, then a new city will be targeted.
“Progressive” cities with well-known track records of police brutality and racial inequities will be targeted first.
The boycott will find ways to support POC-owned businesses, even if they reside in a city that is being targeted.
Supporters will be contacted via email or text on/near December 5th.
All supporters will play a role, whether they live in/near the targeted city, or in another city altogether.
At Blexit, we endorse the tactic of keeping information about boycott actions close, so we support the concept of Injustice Boycott and all boycotting specifically for the benefit of Black people, even though we are not yet privy to the full details of the action. We have also kept silent about the details our own actions because it is an effective way of stifling opposition propaganda that could derail the boycott action and discourage supporters.
We are committed to boldly uplifting women and Black people during all boycott actions we organize or support. We are committed to boycott actions that are Black led, Black women led, and acknowledge that Black people are already targeted by systems of oppression so they should not be the targets of their own actions to rid themselves oppression. If the Injustice Boycott or any other national boycott action centered the Black community upholds these same commitments, we are committed to supporting those actions.
We will not know if the Injustice Boycott is coming to the Twin Cities until December 5th, but we are watching the events as they unfold. There is no doubt that the Twin Cities fits the criteria to be one of the first cities targeted. The region calls itself “progressive”, Minnesota is the second worst state for disparities between Black and white people, the tragic extra-judicial killings of Jamar Clark and Philando Castille were high profile, and Mr. King recently visited Macalester College and North High School. We are confident that the Injustice Boycott will come to the Twin Cities, and we won’t be surprised if it comes here first.
Against Us: Theft of Free Will and Interstate Collaboration of Militarized Police Forces at Standing Rock
Blexit continually promotes exiting the systems that cause our pain. Whether these systems are corporations, government institutions or any other groups who cause pain that is physical or mental, temporary or systemic, Blexit promotes exiting them.
These systems use pain that is traumatic, especially in their deceit and immorality. These systems use pain while at the same time claiming a morality that deceitfully impersonates our own free will, takes actions on our own behalf, and denies responsibility for the trauma they cause. These systems cause pain that is complex and traumatic. While they persecute and assault us, they also vindicate themselves with claims of protecting and defending us.
The need for exiting the systems that cause our pain is being exemplified by the environmental and classical racism violently carried out through the persevering collusion of taxpayer-funded-militarized police forces, and private oil companies at Standing Rock.
They are immorally aggressive and violent.
They are deceitfully veiled by the pretense of public safety.
Their immorality and deceit is directed at our friends and family; it is even directed at many of us who are at Standing Rock now. The pain they are causing moves us to agonize in regret over our actions that have empowered them to impersonate our own free will and take action on our own behalf - against us.
A coalition of multi-state police forces including Hennepin County Sheriff's use violent aggression against the Dakota Access Pipeline Water Protectors.
Photo Credit: City Pages
As militarized police forces from Hennepin County, Minnesota, travel hundreds of miles across state lines to collaborate in violent aggression against Water Protectors in Standing Rock, citizens of Hennepin County agonize in regret of their actions that set the stage for this violence to be carried out on their own behalf. They question themselves:
Was it my vote?
Was it my political affiliation?
Was it my support of taxes and levies meant to improve my own safety?
Perhaps it was all of the above, maybe it was none of the above. However, from the fog of regret emerges the clarity of content in knowing the necessary next step. It’s time to exit the systems that cause us pain.
This exit reclaims our own free will and our own actions for use in pursuit of our own morality. This exit places the responsibility for the aggression, pain and violence squarely on the systems who are responsible.
It’s time ya’ll.
Is the #Blexit #BlackTransferChallenge trading one evil for another?
A response to the AAIHS blog post: "Why #BankBlack Is Betraying The Black Freedom Struggle"
We have received messages and emails regarding the recent blog post by AAIH which flags the #BankBlack movement as controversial, noting the inherent racist and insidious nature of capitalism and its inextricable presence in ALL for profit banks.
First, it’s important to appreciate the fact that this topic is becoming a mainstream conversation within the Black community. This is a good conversation to have.
Now, to keep things simple and to the point, AAIHS's argument, as we understand it, is that whether Black owned Bank or Big Bank, all for profit banks operate within capitalism, which is in its nature, anti Black.
We completely agree.
We at Blexit are anti-capitalism. We do not believe Black capitalism is the golden key to Black liberation. However, we believe capitalism is a powerful tool for economic disruption and Black liberation.
Our action today resulted in close to 80 people pledging to open an account with a Black owned Bank and deposit $100 in that account as an act of social noncooperation and solidarity in opposition to 'Big Banks' who contributed and benefitted off of decades of victimizing Black communities (see our pledge language here: http://www.blexitmn.org/black-transfer-challenge).
The goal of this and future actions is to create a culture of consumer divestment that shifts funds away from the most egregious economic vultures and builds power in numbers of consumers who demand fair and equitable financial systems that rebuild the Black community, i.e. a credit union model of a Black banking (as mentioned in the article), more specifically, the first one of its kind in our state (Minnesota does not have a Black Bank).
While we agree with the article premise, the title of the article may be problematic. To blanket all Black owned banks and the #BankBlack movement as a whole as 'Betrayers of the Black Freedom Struggle' is like blaming your local soul food spot for the diabetes epidemic in the Black community. It's like saying all Black police officers are personally contributing to the state sanctioned murder of unarmed Black people (that may actually have some meat to it but just go with us for a sec here). We know these systems are evil and racist, however, we live in these systems, we contribute to them as consumers and citizens; that experience in participation gives us leverage and power. The more we build that leverage with intention the more power we harness.
Another consideration, Black enterprise has often used capitalism as a starting point for fighting the Black struggle. At some point we must face our propensity to cut down these efforts prematurely, with razor sharp criticism, before we take the time to invest and shape our growing small for-profit businesses into tools for our liberation, no matter how entangled they may seem.
Constructive criticism is healthy and should be welcomed but being publicly divisive when it comes to anything Black gaining influence, power, wealth could derail what may otherwise be shaped into a powerful united front.
The 'Big Banking' industry, largely White, largely male, is and has been a blatant outlier to widespread, real, tangible, generational damage to our community. While there are many Black owned Banks who, while functioning as for-profit, have deep roots in their local communities and pride themselves in being tools for Black liberation, however small. Can we fairly say that by default all Black Bankers are ultimately just looking to pimp the Black community for a jump off into the bliss of Black capitalism?
As we build up Black Banks and add numbers under a united understanding of our goal, we have the opportunity to negotiate with Black banking institutions who have the experience, existing infrastructure and capital to shift the Black economy toward equity and power and away from capitalism. Our goal at Blexit is not to reinvent the Black banking wheel but negotiate with the banks we already have and if our efforts fail, build our vision from the ground up.
In the meantime, we want to send a clear message to the trillion dollar industry of Big Banks who have pillaged our communities for generations: there is power in our dollars and we are preparing to exit their institutions if we don't see sweeping changes in their practices. We expect that message to travel all the way down to Black owned for-profit Banks who we sincerely hope recognize this moment as an opportunity to get on the right side of history.