The power of the Black Lives Matter movement


We in wave one wave to if there is a low dose that mark an end because we're gathering of strength these questions we ask about corona virus but what if we understood social movement moments in the same way the death of George Floyd and the uprisings that followed can seem like the birth of a new social movement and the new host of possibilities disbanding at the funding police departments commemorating Juneteenth ads addressing the on going silent apart taped the systemic racism woven through the society and everything from voting rights to healthcare urban planning it seems as sudden as a lightning strike Alan Kwabena Frimpong is an activist and consultant with ad astra collective which provides tools to build social movements he says the explosion was ignited by what his group calls a trigger event or several of them the killing of George Floyd the pandemic the previous extrajudicial killings of black people these events where we can no longer be complicit with the conditions of the status quo that way in and then once the triggering event unleashes this long accumulating rage comes the heroic phase everybody's on the streets anything seems possible which leads you say to a honeymoon right people believe anything is possible that we've been dreaming of that we would like to see in our world a future without police without jails and prisons now that not only seems possible it's becoming possible so we thought that with the disbandment of the Minneapolis police department but the vote that was taken by the city council and so if in this space that possibility can live and then history tells us the honeymoon inevitably ends leading to disillusionment contraction you call it the women's March and occupier quintessential examples and likewise the first wave of black lives matter what's happening with the disillusionment sets in any time during this period we think we've failed that when the cameras turn off when there's not as much attention to the issues and mass media or even in social media we think that the movement activity has somehow ended but it hasn't it's that what is required of us as shifted or it gets to share in this phase of the cycle and it's a time to build strategy and to build organization to find unity around the issues and to figure out the infrastructure needed to be able to create the visions of the world that we actually want to live in an analogy might be that you light the grill the flames jump out of the cattle so big you could get singed but then fifteen minutes later you come back and all you see is a heap of calls but underneath it is smoldering the cycle does seem to reflect at least American history going back to the Boston tea party these kind of waves that we've seen this country has dealt with since its inception when you invoke the Boston tea party that history a card with the backdrop of slavery and the removal of indigenous folks we have to understand our ways of rebellion and Ryan I'm here in Jersey New Jersey eighteen eighty four of you have black people riding here in Newark because of the erection of what was then the school system and how black people were being locked out of participation there are the strength of events in our history that lead to these moments so let's call this the the second wave of black lives matter does the same pattern still hold I mean if this is the second honeymoon should we expect marital reality to kick and with a second loss of energy why wouldn't we we still live in a culture that upholds capitalism mmhm and that holds white supremacy the fact that we have people still talking about the reform of a police state I think it's indicative of that what feels different indicates the value of corporations who want to put out statements saying black lives matter so yeah we're and if you want to call it a second wave of black lives matter but the reality is that as we've talked about before the construction phase we really will have to ask the deep question what will be required of aspen organizer activist members of our communities to ship the material conditions are you in the process of trying to manage expectations show how the cycle works and say we're not gonna leave the news for much longer be prepared to build networks and continue to organize continue to lobby what we will need to deal with in this contraction phase is what are going to beat the alternative institutions that people can look to that people can trust and that people can believe in that show that the path to the new normal that we deserve and to me what that looks like is worker owned cooperatives credit unions to me the control of our public safety health care for all public education accessible to all those things would need to change if we're asking for the abolishment of police because what it requires of us then is to change our relationships with each other and build community with each other and that's what we're going to need to prepare for as this contraction phase comes to life and the question becomes what we choose to do that work we choose to build with people in our neighborhoods we choose to depend on them and create modalities for our safety reeking of other institutions the show is called on the media and I want to ask you about us and I'm gonna go back to occupy to do it when the protesters vanished from the public parks and went home sometimes chased away by police we in the media seized on that extra this is a sign of the movement's failure because its goals were too quixotic it's politics too fragmented and so what is the contraction phase of the cycle reflected by or influenced by the media characterizations when people are not in the streets anymore and there there is in this huge spectacle what is there left to cover America is so infatuated with the spectacle of its own violence and the trauma that ensues from may the disillusionment in the contraction of the cycle I think is a representation of what we tend to be stuck in in terms of our own habits we enjoyed the trauma of the story of the victim the perpetrator and the savior and the way we tell our views as from that have been jewel norm if so what would it look like to shift away from that and perhaps tell news that connects the dots then tells a much more nuanced and complex story that the viewers or listeners deserve to hear where people can actually show authentic stories about what is going on from a place that is moving for people that shift something for them that doesn't truncate in flag in their lives and to just these one dimensional identities there's a lot of what media frames and that then leads to some of the assumptions that get made about whatever happened to the much as whatever happens to the people organizing the rally is people are still doing that work but it may look different we in the media have focused on the tip of the iceberg the protests of the violence the repercussions but you have been talking of what's going on beneath the networks of people building power over time the organization what do you think we can do to tell the story of protest better folks in the media need to ask themselves why do we feel compelled to tell these stories in these ways what do we believe about our audience about what they're ready to hear and what they're ready to listen to we can then have a conversation about whether the human stories that need to be shared that connect the dots people think that somehow Minneapolis was just able to do this overnight but they have been in a protracted struggle for years to get to this point if media where to tell the stories of what it took to get there that would be a different kind of conversation that has different kinds of implications and the time that it would take to tell those stories with me the focus of the story is not just around making a profit but we would actually have to honor people's time contributions much differently than the ways that we do right now are they willing to shift as an industry to live into the kind of lives that these movements are demanding in the clearing for

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