Hear Us: Moving Forward As We Mourn

Op-Ed: In the year since we launched this column, racial injustice persists. It’s long past time for non-BIPOC individuals and communities to get out of the way and follow our lead.

(Drazen Zigic/iStock Photo)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: “Hear Us” is a column series that features experts of color and their insights on issues related to the economy and racial justice. Follow us here and at #HearUs4Justice.

“What might we be if only we tried. What might we become if only we’d listen.”

Amanda Gorman, May 24, 2022

The past few weeks have been deeply painful. I write this thinking of Uvalde, Buffalo, and Minneapolis. Thinking of the babies, the elders, and our siblings of all ages in between. Saying they were “stolen” does not say enough.

In 2020, we were told to vote as though our lives depended on it. We did, and yet people of color are still losing — our lives and livelihoods, our communities, our hope and faith. As we approach the 2022 midterms, the system hasn’t changed but we’re still being scolded into upholding it anyway.

Just over a year ago, I wrote the introductory essay for “Hear Us,” a column series that centers the voices of Black and Brown folks who are working to reshape the economy and unleash all people of all identities from the hold of oppressive forces that diminish our collective abundance, dignity, security, and power. As the reach of injustice continues to expand, the consequences of ignoring us grow with it. The long and short of it is: We still aren’t being heard — by each other, by our elected “leaders,” and especially by white liberals who think they know better.

As I and my fellow contributors wrote in a recent report on the Black Women Best (BWB) framework, “those in power have long presented the inequity, instability, and violence we collectively navigate as inevitable and even necessary.” When people in power ignore us or respond to our demands with weak platitudes and inaction, they uphold systems built on theft, exclusion, and exploitation — and reject our transformative solutions that will remake our society for the better.

In the past year, the “Hear Us” contributors covered everything from inflation and guaranteed income to co-governance and Black-led activism. We said a lot of what needed to be said. And yet:

  • CEOs continue to profit hoard and price gouge.

  • The Senate let the Child Tax Credit expire and pushed predominantly Black and Brown children and their parents back into poverty.

  • Governments continue to spend our public dollars in undemocratic ways.

  • And Black organizers are already blamed for the ineptitude of a presidential administration that has failed to realize its “progressive” promises — indefensible broken promises that include canceling student debt and ending police brutality.

No, $10,000 is not enough. No, I don’t trust the police to do anything but maintain racial capitalism. They won’t even protect children under fire. But they have a long history of killing them. People like still-sitting Senator Bill Cassidy don’t even want to count the Black mamas we lose before they become mamas.

We must move beyond white supremacy, capitalism, ableism, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and too damn much more. And so we continue to tell our stories, fight for our communities, and push ahead toward a liberatory future that meets the needs of all Black and Brown people, ensures our security, and supports the dignity and power we must possess to reclaim our future.

To that end, as we begin the second year of “Hear Us,” we include a call for responses. For our readers of color: What from our first round of essays speaks to you the most? What do we need to say more of? What do you have to say? How does injustice show up in yourself, in your households, and in your communities?

For our white readers: What questions do you have? What ideas can you drive? Namely: Why aren’t you listening? When will you hear us?

Responses should be submitted at communications@liberationinageneration.org. We seek essays as well as proposed interviews.

“Hear Us” isn’t a request. It’s a demand. We close with this call to action from Imani Barbarin (read the full thread here):

“We need DRASTIC CHANGE, FUNDAMENTAL CHANGE, not a stop-gap so that white people can get comfortable and complacent again.

We shouldn’t just want harm reduction and platitudes, we need society to change to protect us and allow us to lead our lives in dignity.

We can’t keep living by this system.”

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Kendra Bozarth is the director of communications at Liberation in a Generation and the founder of KBComms.

Tags: racial justicehear usstudent debtpolice violence

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