CREDO Activists and the movement for Black lives

At the beginning of July, we saw, in horrific detail, the murders of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile at the hands of police. At the end of the month, Baltimore prosecutors’ attempt to hold Baltimore police officers accountable for Freddie Gray’s homicide ended without a single conviction.

These heart-wrenching bookends to a tragic month serve as a stark reminder of the ways white supremacy and systemic racism stack the deck of the criminal justice system against African-Americans. Police officers take Black lives. Mainstream media smears the victim. Prosecutors tip the scales in favor of police offenders. Police who kill and the departments face no consequences.

Eliminating the daily threat to Black lives posed by law enforcement will require systemic change, and demands action from all of us. That’s why the CREDO Action team is grateful to be able to partner with our friends at Color Of Change, one of this month’s donations recipients, on campaigns that pull systemic levers and seek to make change on a national scale.

A look at the campaigns we’ve worked on together in just the last month provides a snapshot of the organizing and activism required, across many institutions, to build a culture, and a country, that values Black lives:

  • Urging President Obama to hold decision-makers at the police department level responsible for police violence against Black people by ending federal funding for police departments across the country that do not value, respect or protect Black lives.
  • Urging the Department of Justice to launch an immediate investigation any time an African-American is killed by the police.
  • Demanding that traditional corporate media outlets stop victim-blaming practices that demonize and blame African-American victims of police violence.

It’s important to note that the fight for Black lives is not just limited to pushing back on police brutality and the prison-industrial complex. Here are just a few examples of other organizations working for other kinds of systemic change:

  • Million Hoodies Movement for Justice is working to make sure that efforts to promote gun control and stop gun violence don’t perpetuate systemic racism by criminalizing Black and Brown people or by leaving out or underfunding efforts to combat urban gun violence.
  • SisterSong is fighting to center women of color in the fight for reproductive justice, which includes not only access to abortion, but also access to contraception, comprehensive and affordable health care, fair wages, and the ability to raise your child without the fear that he or she will be a victim of the racist criminal justice system.
  • The Center for Media Justice was a leader in the fight to protect Net Neutrality, defending the open internet so that communities seldom heard from in the media have a voice online and the tools to organize for justice. They also work tirelessly for affordable phone and broadband access, which helps communities maintain strong family ties, gain employment, and succeed in education.

With many people trying to use the tragic killings of police officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge to undermine and discredit the movement for Black lives, it’s more important than ever that progressives take a powerful stand in support of Black people’s fight for freedom and equality. We’re grateful for everything that CREDO members are doing to stand up and take action at this critical moment.