Why the Black Lives Matter Movement is Vital for Us All

WE-BLM_team_14_x11-_HR.jpg

Educators plan week of action, offer lesson resources

The Caucus of Working Educator’s Racial Justice Committee is planning a Black Lives Matter week for Philadelphia schools beginning January 23rd. The purpose of the week is girded in the 13 guiding principles that extend Black Lives Matter into a movement. Each protest must transform action into change. We are living in a pivotal time. A time when the United States has turned a mirror upon itself to reveal her true nature. This nature has reaped increased mass incarceration, poverty, non-affordable housing, income disparity, constant homophobia, unfair immigration laws, gender inequality, and poor access to healthcare. All of these injustices exist in the intersection of race, class and gender.

As teachers, we are preparing our students to make decisions in a world that continues to spin with the aforementioned knitting together the tapestry in which we all must exist. This is why our Black Lives Matter week is a vital action. It is one that will empower each of us and our students to know that it is possible to eradicate these ills by actively engaging in the truth and never being afraid to share it, even when it is unpopular. If society continues to marginalize, murder,  and devalue Black and Brown lives, then there is little hope for America to ever reach her fullest potential.

Our week of action is grounded in the 13 Guiding Principles of Black Lives Matter.

Restorative Justice is the commitment to build a beloved and loving community that is sustainable and growing.  Empathy is one’s ability to connect with others by building relationships built on mutual trust and understanding. Loving Engagement is the commitment to practice justice, liberation and peace. Diversity is the celebration and acknowledgment of differences and commonalities across cultures. Globalism is our ability to see how we are impacted or privileged within the Black global family that exists across the world in different regions. Transgender Affirming is the commitment to continue to make space for our trans brothers and sisters by encouraging leadership and recognizing trans-antagonistic violence. Queer Affirming is working towards a queer-affirming network where heteronormative thinking no longer exists. Collective Value means that all Black lives, regardless of actual or perceived sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status or location matter. Intergenerational is a space free from ageism where we can learn from each other.  Black Families creates a space that is family friendly and free from patriarchal practices.  Black Villages is the disruption of Western nuclear family dynamics and a return to the “collective village” that takes care of each other. Black Women is the building of women-centered spaces free from sexism, misogyny, and male-centeredness.  Unapologetically Black is the affirmation that Black Lives Matter and that our love, and desire for justice and freedom are prerequisites for wanting that for others. These principles are the blueprint for healing and do not include nor do they support ignoring or sanitizing the ugliness and discomfort that comes with dealing with race and anti-race issues.

The constant rhetoric that believes that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would not support the Black Lives Matter movement if he were alive today is very unaware of his teachings and writings. He wrote, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education,” along with, “All men are caught in an inescapable web of mutuality.” In other words none of us are free if one of us is not. No law is just when it unjustly punishes some and spares others. No movement can move without individuals making tracks in the trenches until the blemishes are pushed into the light.

This week is about all of these things. It is an opportunity for us to infuse fresh understanding and critical intellect into everything we touch. In closing, I will evoke the wisdom of bell hooks, “When we only name the problem, when we state complaint without a constructive focus or resolution, we take hope away. In this way critique can become merely an expression of profound cynicism, which then works to sustain dominator culture.” This is the week that we name it, and this is our opportunity to build real sustainable solutions that can stretch across today and tomorrow.   

For more information on the campaign view the Week of Action calendar of events, lesson resources, and FAQs page. If you are interested in organizing around the campaign at your school or with your community organization, please complete this form. To pick up t-shirts, buttons, and stickers for your school and communities, come to the kick-off Happy Hour on Wednesday, Jan.18 (4:30-6:30) at South Kitchen & Jazz Parlor (600 N. Broad St. 19130). Email BLMPHLed@gmail.com for more information