Black Moms Deserve to Be Heard

Kelly Glass, writing for The Lily on Portland’s “Wall of Moms” – and why this is old hat for Black moms.

You’ve heard about Portland’s “Wall of Moms,” a mostly white group of mothers forming a “wall” to protect protesters from armed federal agents. But have you heard of the “Army of Moms”?

In Englewood, a majority-black South Side neighborhood in the highly segregated city of Chicago, black mothers formed the group in 2015. Officially organized under the name Mothers Against Senseless Killings, the black mother-led group sat on the corners of the neighborhood’s most gun-violence plagued blocks to watch over children and serve as a barrier between their community and gun violence. Late last year, two of these black women were killed on the same blocks they set out to make safe for their community.

Glass, Kelly. (2020, July 25). The ‘Wall of Moms’ is not the story. Black moms have been in this fight for years. The Lily.

What’s telling is that the story that Ms. Glass pitched on the “Army of Moms” was rejected by several publications. The same publications now cover the Portland moms in exhaustive detail.

There’s nothing wrong with covering the Portland moms. Yet we have to ask why we as a nation continue to ignore the work Black moms – and Black women in general – have been putting in towards peace and justice.

Ms. Glass’ story was published on Zora, a Medium publication for women of color.

“We are not activists,” said Tamar Manasseh, founder of Mothers Against Senseless Killings, in a Facebook post.

In the days before Manasseh wrote these words, her friends, Andrea Stoudemire and Chantell Grant, were murdered on a Chicago corner.

Grant was a young mother, 26, who Manasseh says would bring her kids out every day to play. Grant and Stoudemire, 36, each had four children. “Two activists killed,” read the headlines from national news publications, framing them as women who set out to battle for a cause and their deaths as some sort of casualty of war. Even one of the city’s many nicknames, Chi-raq, coined by Chicago rapper King Louie, lends to the idea that the city is a war zone. In war, the only solutions are death and imprisonment. Black mothers, however, are bringing different solutions to Chicago through their presence.

Glass, Kelly. (2019, November 8). Black Mothers in Chicago Are the Village Against Gun Violence. Zora.

The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves

Federal agents will continue to operate in cities despite local officials’ protests.

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler on Sunday implored the “dozens, if not hundreds” of federal agents to leave the city, saying that unidentified Homeland Security officers were detaining residents in unmarked minivans.

“Their presence is neither wanted nor is it helpful and we’re asking them to leave,“ Wheeler (D) said. “In fact, we’re demanding that they leave.”

In response, Cuccinelli said, “We don’t have any plans to do that.”

Lang, Marissa J. & Sacchetti, Maria. (2020, July 19). Federal officials dismiss Portland leaders’ calls to leave city as clashes with protesters continue.

What It’s Like to Be a Black Journalist in America Today

Carvell Wallace on why the George Floyd murder resonates so much with the nation.

My observation over the years has been that when it comes to issues of race, white people don’t respond to our pain; they respond to theirs. And I think that for all the reasons you just mentioned, Jelani, this caused pain in white people in a way that maybe these other things didn’t. But I also think, against the backdrop of COVID, one of the things that really strikes me is that this is the first time a lot of white people have ever experienced the America that we experience all the time. An America in which forces you can’t control are controlling you, are threatening your livelihood, are threatening your health.

Cobb, Jelani, Haines, Errin, Hampton, Rachelle, Samuels, Alex, & Wallace, Carvel. (2020, June 23). “White People Don’t Respond to Our Pain; They Respond to Theirs”: What it’s really like to be a Black journalist in America. Slate

Why Minneapolis Was the Breaking Point

Wesley Lowery for The Atlantic on why the events following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis are markedly different from those that followed previous murders of people of color.

For years, thousands of protesters have taken to the streets to demand a wholesale reimagining of the criminal-justice system. They have stated clearly that they believe American policing is inherently flawed. Black people in America, they argue, are chronically overpoliced and underserved. They are stopped and frisked while walking to the bodega and harassed while cooking out on their porches and patios. But when they are murdered? American police almost never deliver them justice.

“We shouldn’t fear the police,” Alvin Manago, 55, who was Floyd’s roommate for the past four years, and still hasn’t been able to bring himself to begin packing up the slain man’s belongings, told me through tears as we stood next to the colossal memorial that has sprung up at the scene of the killing. “Like when I was a little kid—‘Oh, the police is here, they’re going to help us.’ That’s what I want us to believe and feel again.”

“People finally see it. White people too,” Floyd’s younger brother Philonise told me as we talked in the lobby of the Minneapolis hotel where we were both staying. “My brother is going to change the world.”

Lowery, Wesley. (2020, June 10). Why Minneapolis Was the Breaking Point. The Atlantic.

I also found this particular quote remarkable in that it explains why people will sometimes resort to violence as a form of protest.

“I would never condone violence, ever,” says Elijah Norris-Holliday, a 24-year-old activist in the Twin Cities who has been organizing peaceful daytime protests and who was so distraught after seeing the video of Floyd’s death that he didn’t sleep for days. “But sometimes, when people feel like their voices are being ignored over and over and over, violence is the only other answer. They have to burn their own community down to get people to listen to them. We’re at a breaking point.”

As an aside, Miski Noor, who is mentioned prominently in this article, was also on The Daily Social Distancing Show with Trevor Noah. It is absolutely worth a watch.

Civil Rights and Foreign Policy

From Foreign Affairs, written by Senator Chris Murphy (D) of Connecticut on the impact of a new Civil Rights movement on America’s foreign policy and our image abroad.

The attraction of a democracy is the ability of ordinary people to decide their future and for those same ordinary people to join with one another in collective action to right long-standing wrongs. In the United States, the power of the status quo is such that successful instances of major, grassroots-led change are few and far between. But when change does occur—as happened during the first civil rights movement—it reminds the world of the awesome power of the United States and its model of governance. The signs held aloft at the 1968 Democratic convention read: “The Whole World Is Watching,” and indeed it was. 

Murphy, Chris. (2020, June 12) A New Civil Rights Movement Is a Foreign Policy Win. Foreign Affairs.

When Civility Leads to Death

Sometimes, a tweet is powerful and worthy enough to merit a mention.

Inside Seattle’s ‘Autonomous Zone’

What has emerged is an experiment in life without the police — part street festival, part commune. Hundreds have gathered to hear speeches, poetry and music. On Tuesday night, dozens of people sat in the middle of an intersection to watch “13th,” the Ava DuVernay film about the criminal justice system’s impact on African-Americans. On Wednesday, children made chalk drawings in the street.

Baker, Mike. (2020, June 11). Free Food, Free Speech and Free of Police: Inside Seattle’s ‘Autonomous Zone’. The New York Times.

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