The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
March 2, 2017, Rights Reading
March 2, 2017
Our weekly roundup of what we’re reading: a few select articles from the front lines of human rights that we don’t want you to miss. This week we wanted to highlight articles on the Black Lives Matter movement and celebrate that work as Black History Month comes to a close.
“Today marks the first day of the third annual Black Futures Month (BFM), a month-long celebration where Black people visualize the kind of world we need and want. A visionary spin on Black History Month, BFM is designated space to both meditate on our history, and equally as importantly, to imagine the building blocks of a society where we affirm our right to thrive.”
“What we’ve seen over the last five years is the popularization of protest and the willingness of both media but also Hollywood to talk about Black Lives Matter unapologetically.”
It’s been five years since the death of Trayvon Martin, a Black, unarmed, teenager who was shot by George Zimmerman during neighborhood watch. Zimmerman’s acquittal caused outrage and protests and was the impetus for the Black Lives Matter movement.
In this interview NPR spoke with one of the founders of the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM), Patrisse Khan-Cullors, and she shared her thoughts on the movement today and the current political climate. In the interview, Khan-Cullors acknowledges the BLM movement is decentralized, but believes it is necessary since there isn’t just one solution to ending racism and police brutality against people of color. This has been effective and will ultimately create a world in where Black lives really matter.
Despite Trump’s election as our president, Khan-Cullors does not feel defeat. She believes the election has actually shown that the movement has become powerful and that the movement now has a renewed focus and has shifted from being a reactive movement to a more proactive one, with long-term strategy and vision.
A study, A Bird’s Eye View of Civilians Killed by Police in 2015, released last month, found that police officers are two times more likely to kill an unarmed Black person than a white one. The study looked at nearly 1,000 police killings in 2015 and tested variables such as mental illness and crime rates, but found implicit bias to be the main factor in these killings.
The study also found that other unarmed minorities were more likely to be killed by police than white people and that white civilians were more likely to attack police officers back. Authors made recommendations, such as police using body cameras and having additional training as a way to combat police violence, as well as a deeper study that looks into other forms of police violence, not just fatal incidences, to examine the issue further.
Google wants to use technology and data to look at bias in the criminal justice system and believes that better data can help with research and accountability, and has pledged $11.5 million to support the effort. The money will go to organizations “focused on ending mass incarceration, keeping youth of color out of the school-to-prison pipeline and reforming the criminal-justice system.”
This is not the first time Google has given generously to this cause. In 2015 and 2016, Google gave over $5 million to organizations in Northern California working to end systemic racism in prisons and schools.
Other articles celebrating Black History, Black Futures, and Black Lives Matter we recommend:
- These Black Activists Are Mobilizing A More Inclusive Movement, Kathleen Wong, Mic, January 31, 2017.
Black activists building an intersectional and inclusive movement.
- Origins of a Movement, The Nation, Nathalie Baptiste, February 9, 2017.
A new book charts the rise and resilience of Black Lives Matter.
- This Black History Month, We Declare: ‘We, Too, Are America’, Lilly Workneh, The Huffington Post, February 2, 2017.
America would not be what it is without the contributions of black people.