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VOICES

The New Guard: The Impact Of Young Black Activists

Equilla McCray gestures in front of the E. Barrett Prettyman US Courthouse in Washington, Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014, during the Justice for All rally.

CREDIT: AP/Jose Luis Magana.

To understand today’s movements, we have to understand black people across the Diaspora, from Cleveland to Colombia, New York to Nigeria, experience similar conditions: food insecurity, state repression, overpolicing, political disenfranchisement, segregation, among other instruments of capitalism and white supremacy.

Leaders are also often well-traveled people. Malcolm X embarked on a spiritual pilgrimage to Egypt, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Nigeria, and Morocco, among other African nations. Patrisse Cullors, along with activists from Black Youth Project 100 and the Dream Defenders, embarked on a Ferguson Solidarity Tour to the United Kingdom and Palestine.

When we listen to them retell their experiences while abroad, we understand that it is impossible to understand what is happening in Ferguson and Baltimore without understanding the conditions in Palestine, Colombia, and other parts of the Diaspora. While these journeys give us a better sense of how deep-seated anti-black ideologies are, they also shed light on the indelible impact young people have within these movements.

When people of the global majority share a collective condition, it is our responsibility to stand in solidarity with one another. This past year, we bore witness to the birth of an international liberatory consciousness sparked by those under age 25.

Those who might have been too young to take to the street during the Second Intifada in the West Bank in 2000 or after Amadou Diallo was killed in New York City in 1999 have channeled their energy into direct action in the present moment.

Not only are we marching, protesting, demonstrating, resisting, and imagining; we are sharing our stories through social media. People occupied major boulevards in Baltimore carrying Palestinian flags. Students in Gaza tweeted to Missourians on how to protect themselves from pepper spray. Afro-Colombian anti-mining activists such as Francia Marquez traveled to Amherst, Mass. to meet with Opal Tometi, Alicia Garza, and Patrisse Cullors, founders of the Black Lives Matter movement, to discuss black liberation.

Young black people. Young brown people. Separated by border of land and sea, but linked together because they have the audacity to believe black lives matter and will not sit idly by as black lives are lost to state violence. Once we comprehend this magnitude of the movement, we can realize the call for #BlackLivesMatter is the true embodiment of a true call for human rights.

As we quickly approach the one-year anniversary of Michael Brown’s death, we must take time for honest reflection and critical introspection. Old and young, Millennials and non-Millenials, those who belong to social justice collectives, think tanks, and non-profit organizations, those who have taken up various campaigns, ask yourselves: what have I done to interrupt anti-black racism in my space?

If the answer is nothing, you have a lot of work to do.

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