Dear Reverend William Barber, Alicia Garza, Patrisse Cullors, Opal Tometi, Nina Turner, Ben Jealous, John Legend, and Killer Mike,
I am very deeply distraught to learn that yet another police murder ends without a criminal conviction. Considering the era we are about to enter, not only we can no longer continue business as usual, but we need to wage a very different kind of fight for civil rights.
When the movement for Black lives came into existence concurrently with Moral Monday, it was my hope that both movements would grow into national power houses, with Moral Monday as the movement with the charter and infrastructure to give “relatively conscious whites” a framework from which to join a movement for civil rights. Though its membership is diverse, and Moral Monday did grow out of North Carolina and into a number of others states, it isn’t yet a national movement. It needs to be.
When our nation was treated to the weekly sight of hundreds of thousands of people of all ethnicities and creeds in all of our major cities, protesting, together, demanding justice, I was especially hopeful that the establishment would get the message. It wasn’t to be.
After the movement for Black lives intervened at Netroots Nation, and after Senator Sanders responded with his Platform for Racial Justice, I was especially hopeful that it would be the foundation for a new kind of cooperation, and the beginning of a mission to finally reform a system run amok, by making our politicians come to the realization that they will be held accountable. While some answered the call, the victor did not, and that, too wasn’t to be.
Then, on a horrible fateful day, a madman killed two police officers in New York City. The New York City Fraternal Order of Police rebelled, and Mayor de Blasio caved into the pressure and demanded a temporary halt to the ongoing mass-protests during the period of mourning. Mass-protests were supposed to resume some weeks later. Instead, as they were mourning, police established two new forces, whose mission is to police mass-protests. The resumption of the movement’s right to self-expression wasn’t allowed to continue to be.
Since 2014, there have been hundreds more killings, including the cold-blooded murder of Sam du Bose and many others. As President-elect Donald J. Trump readies himself to assume power, so must we: Black, Brown, Asian, Native American, and, yes, relatively conscious whites too. Please, Reverend Barber, lend your eloquent and powerful voice to a renewed push, not only to bring your movement back to a heightened national prominence, but grow it in all fifty states, with the express mission to provide a framework for whites to take part in a new era of cooperation and civil rights advocacy and activism, alongside their brothers and sisters of color.
I plead with you to please consider my idea to organize as the new Trump administration coalesces in this transitional time. We know from years of public statements that our new president is an authoritarian who has called over and over again for more police powers. We also know that our new president is given to deep racial bias and isn’t shy about expressing them in public. We must be ready to act as a unified nation, before he is able to use his powers to quell movements for civil rights.
I know there are many among the Black communities across the nation who, rightly, feel it isn’t the Black man’s (and woman) burden to educate white America. I know there are those who advocate for the Black community to disengage because the fight against white supremacy is too difficult to win. They say, let whites fix themselves and while whites eventually may, I say, it won’t happen without demands that they do. It won’t happen without a push for fundamental reforms that affect every child, teen and young adult’s way of thinking. It won’t happen without the founding of a framework from which those who are already woke can begin the work. As James Baldwin most aptly wrote:
“Whatever white people do not know about Negroes reveals, precisely and inexorably, what they do not know about themselves.”
Let us make this statement by Baldwin one that is no longer true, together.
As Donald J. Trump surveys the crowds at his inaugural, it is my hope to see a diverse crowd, millions strong, demanding equal justice and the end of the police state as we know it. It is time to begin a new era in civil rights, one that is both inclusive and proactive. We must not let up again. We must fight until the war against racism is won.
Rima S. Regas
“If it may be said of the slavery era that the white man took the world and gave the Negro Jesus, then it may be said of the Reconstruction era that the southern aristocracy took the world and gave the poor white man Jim Crow. (Yes, sir) He gave him Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his wrinkled stomach cried out for the food that his empty pockets could not provide, (Yes, sir) he ate Jim Crow, a psychological bird that told him that no matter how bad off he was, at least he was a white man, better than the black man. (Right sir) And he ate Jim Crow. (Uh huh) And when his undernourished children cried out for the necessities that his low wages could not provide, he showed them the Jim Crow signs on the buses and in the stores, on the streets and in the public buildings. (Yes, sir) And his children, too, learned to feed upon Jim Crow, (Speak) their last outpost of psychological oblivion. (Yes, sir)”
“To meet this threat, the southern aristocracy began immediately to engineer this development of a segregated society. (Right) I want you to follow me through here because this is very important to see the roots of racism and the denial of the right to vote. Through their control of mass media, they revised the doctrine of white supremacy. They saturated the thinking of the poor white masses with it, (Yes) thus clouding their minds to the real issue involved in the Populist Movement. They then directed the placement on the books of the South of laws that made it a crime for Negroes and whites to come together as equals at any level. (Yes, sir) And that did it. That crippled and eventually destroyed the Populist Movement of the nineteenth century.”
Martin Luther King, 1965, Selma
MLK: Turning a Neighborhood into a Brotherhood Speech