Brian Taylor is a leader of Black Lives Matter Cincinnati. He signed this column "on behalf of the Black Lives Matter Cincinnati Steering Committee."
“Just because we’re magic doesn’t mean we’re not real” -- Jesse Williams
What magical iteration can we utter to disappear the film currently covering the eyes and ears of those particular people -- mostly white -- who choose to side with the likes of brutes in uniform, who are killing unarmed black people in droves?
How can a government that claims civility allow staggering and greatly disproportionate numbers of black people to be expired as a result of a “routine” traffic stop or some other alleged minor offense?
Growing numbers are yelling like babes in the woods. Yelling, “The forest is on fire and we are trapped.” Trapped because we are murdered in cold blood by “the authorities.” Then we pursue legal channels to convict a cop for their crimes and the courts say, over and over again, “tragedy, but justified.” Then government officials say “we know you are on fire, but be calm.” Layers of whites, alien to our reality, refuse to believe we are burning. What they fail to realize is that the fire will eventually consume them as well.
The veneer of civil society is falling away. The message is clear. There are rarely repercussions if you kill a black person -- even if you are filmed doing so. You will be protected in the courtroom; you will be funded by wealthy supporters who depend on the police to protect their position in society.
So when we see a police car approaching, we are scared. I am scared. What -- under these circumstances -- can a people do? Our only option is to rebel. To stand together with those who do see the urgency of our situation and build a movement strong enough to take away authority from those who abuse it -- locally and nationally.
People are furious and the powers that be aren’t listening. They would have us believe we are powerless. That we need to elect the right person and trust them to solve our problems. Black Lives Matter Cincinnati rejects that notion. We believe black people, low-income people, and working-class people have tremendous power.
When thousands (and here we must say the police figure of 1,500 is laughable) took to the streets Sunday in a disciplined, organized display of anger and militancy, many asked how it was possible or if we did anything different for this action. While we focused our energies and took special care to handle details, fundamentally we did nothing different.
The objective conditions of the moment were key. And the families fighting for justice and the people -- with their courage, energy and selflessness -- were the heart of the action’s power. Our duty was to ensure that power had a means to come alive, grow and continue growing. Our responsibility was to push forward with the demonstration and resist pressure from some media and government officials who sought to shame us into inaction and try to make us feel somehow responsible for the police deaths in Dallas. And we did that, even as other progressive forces folded under the pressure locally and nationally.
Part of our mission is to help instill confidence among millions that we can carry out independent mass political action to gain liberation -- not just for black people, but all oppressed and exploited people. When the people’s righteous indignation combines with organizational competency and political imagination, incredible things are possible.
Hundreds of people across the ethnic spectrum stepped forward in a matter of days to take on big responsibilities and tasks -- some for the first time. Some gave money; others time and professional skills; still others walked the streets of Cincinnati to canvass -- not like census people -- but with a family emergency–like urgency.
It proves the point that people can transform overnight. They can go from just working and trying to survive to staying up late at night for hours to make copies of flyers; from smoking on a corner to making sure elderly marchers get through the action safely. It starts with believing in our own self worth and seeing a feasible road to bringing change. We are the architects of our own destiny.
Black Lives Matter Cincinnati stands with workers fighting to raise the minimum wage, unionize, and defend the undocumented. That’s why our speakers at the action included multiple unions. We also believe white working people have a direct interest in fighting for black liberation. As with the civil rights movement and the post slavery-radical reconstruction movement, the gains made (from establishing public schools and a massive literacy campaign, to land redistribution to blacks and poor white farmers) pushed EVERYONE forward.
But just like in each of those eras, our common enemy -- the super wealthy -- have some non-black people believing that black rights come at their expense. History shows the exact opposite to be true. The more black people are beat down -- be it on the job through discrimination or where we live through the night stick -- the easier it is to break unions, reduce wages, and exercise police brutality against everyone.
Black Lives Matter stands unequivocally in defense of black people, white people, Latinos and others killed by police -- from Samantha Ramsey in Northern Kentucky to Pedro Villanueva in Fullerton, California.
Join us. We need you. Our next meeting is Monday, July 18 at 6:15 pm at St. Francis Church (1615 Vine Street). You can follow our activities here.