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Books To Read So That You Can Be A Better Ally Of The Black Lives Matter Movement

During this time of so much unrest and pain, you might be feeling relatively powerless but it’s important to know that there are ways to help. There are petitions to sign, groups to support and people to hug. But perhaps one of the most empowering things you can do to help right now is to educate yourself. To be a true ally to the Black Lives Matter movement you have to educate yourself about the history of systemic racism in our country.

To help, we’ve put together a reading list of books and poems by African-American writers to check out.

Freedom Is A Constant Struggle by Angela Davis

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Activist Angela Davis was a pioneer of her time and while you might see her various quotes about racism and race circulating around the internet in the wake of George Floy’s death, there is far more to learn from her. Freedom Is A Constant Struggle, which was published in 2016, shows her thoughts and insights on civil rights, racism, and feminism through a series of essays.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter will light up how you see the ways in which racism affects Black people of various classes. Carter lives in a poor neighborhood and goes to school at fancy suburban prep school where she juggles having to blend in and stay ahead of the educational curve. Starr’s life is thrown out of balance when the fatal shooting of her childhood friend Khalil occurs at the hands of a police officer.

The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

Written in 1962, this classic about the Civil Rights Movement is divided into two parts both of which give a powerful reflection on Baldwin’s time Harlem. In his novel, writes “If we – and I mean the relatively conscious whites and the relatively conscious blacks, who must, like lovers, insist on, or create, the consciousness of others – do not falter in our duty now, we may be able, handful that we are, to end the racial nightmare, and achieve our country, and change the history of the world.”

They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, And A New Era In America’s Racial Justice Movement by Wesley Lowery

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As a reporter for The Washington Post, Wesley Lowery spent much of President Obama’s second term in office traveling from city to city, covering the deaths of unarmed black men at the hands of white police officers, including Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray. They Can’t Kill Us All begins with his own aggressive arrest during the Ferguson protests after allegedly “failing to disperse” quickly enough when police officers cleared out a McDonald’s – then goes on to recount the evolution of the Black Lives Matter movement from the front lines. In short, it’s essential reading right now.

Beloved by Toni Morrison

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For this story that sheds light on the collective trauma felt by slaves and their descendants, Morrison won a Pulitzer Prize. Morrison’s novel was inspired by a true reported piece written in the American Baptist in 1856 and follows a woman who escaped as a slave from a fictional plantation to live in the free state of Ohio. Despite her escape, she remains haunted by the ghosts of her pays.

Your Silence Will Not Protect You by Audre Lorde

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Everyone needs to read every piece by this poet who has described herself as a black, lesbian, mother, and warrior. In this collection of essays, speeches, and poems by Lorde there’s so much to learn from this brilliant keynote speaker and writer.

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The Rise of the Rainbow Coalition Is Reignited in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

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The Rise of the Rainbow Coalition Is Reignited in ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

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At the dawn of Black History Month the timely release of “Judas and the Black Messiah” echoed the cries of injustice following a summer of civil unrest. In what was considered the largest multicultural protest of the 21st century, the words of Deputy Chairman Fred Hampton ferociously chanting “I AM…A REVOLUTIONARY!” continue to resonate.

The timely Civil Rights film, available to stream on HBO Max, follows the life and betrayal of The Illinois Black Panther Chairman (played by Daniel Kaluuya) at the hands of a party member and FBI informant William “Bill” O’Neal (played by Lakeith Stanfield). Kaluuya’s captivating performance as the charismatic Hampton received widespread acclaim and his first Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.

For some audience members, this film will be their first introduction to Chairman Fred Hampton and an extension of the Black Panther Party. While the film is relatively accurate, the brief inclusion of the original Rainbow Coalition is pertinent to Hampton’s legacy. You can see its relation to the rise in multicultural youth-driven activism we see today.

In February 1969, Hampton and other Panther members met with Young Lords leader José “Cha-Cha” Jimenez after the Puerto Rican street organization shut themselves in the 18th District police station. The protest was calling attention to the police harassment of Latinx residents in Chicago’s Lincoln Park.

The Young Lords started as a turf gang in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood in 1960. By 1968, the Young Lords became a Civil Rights organization. The Illinois chapter and Young Lords formed the original Rainbow Coalition in April 1969. Jimenez referred to the coalition as a “poor people’s army” in an interview with Southside Weekly. Shortly after, the coalition grew to include the Young Patriots Organization a white, southern working-class group from Northern Chicago.

The Rainbow Coalition fought against police brutality and institutional racism in Chicago while working to uplift their local communities. The organization, consisting of people in their teens and early 20s, offered free breakfast programs and child daycare centers funded by donations from local businesses.

“It is impossible to make revolutionary change without the people,” Jimenez said in an interview with FightBack! News on the 50th anniversary of the coalition’s foundation.

“The Rainbow Coalition was more than just a gang of activists or folks trying to gain one or two small victories,” he told FightBack! News. “Each of our groups were already small revolutionary armies connected to the people’s struggle and trying to create a People’s Army to win the battle.”

Hampton and Jimenez were both sent to solitary confinement at Cook County Jail for their activism. In another incident noted in the film, Hampton was once sentenced after taking ice cream pops from an ice cream truck to pass out to neighborhood kids.

Supporters claim that it is a consequence of their street organizing and a threat to government authority for their Marxist-Leninist views.

The tension between the Chicago Police Department and the Black Panthers failed to cease, and the FBI was closing in on silencing Hampton. On December 4, 1969, the Cook County’s State Attorney Edward V. Hanrahan conducted an overnight raid on Hampton’s apartment with a warrant to search for illegal weapons.

Police barraged into Hampton’s apartment shooting gunfire wounding several Black Panthers and killing Black Panther security chief Mark Clark. Hampton was asleep in his bedroom next to his pregnant fiancée Deborah Johnson (who now goes by Akua Njeri) when he was struck by the gunfire, killing him.

Hampton was 21 at the time of his death.

The assassination of Fred Hampton left Coalition members distraught and fearful for their own lives as leadership slowly diminished. By 1973, the Rainbow Coalition had officially disbanded.

The embodiment of radicalized thought, in a sea of young revolutionaries, adorning their berets of black and purple. The roars of unapologetic protest against racism persisted and the legacy of youth-driven advocacy for the unified equity of all peoples vehemently lives on.

“Ours is not about individuals but a people’s struggle led by the common folk,” Jimenez said to FightBack! News. “Ours is a protracted struggle that will take years and we must prepare ourselves for the long run via structured community programs specific to the revolution.”

READ: Filmmaker’s Short Documentary Shines A Light On Woman Who Fought For Cuban Revolution

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The Black and Afro-Latina Queens of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Discuss #BlackLivesMatter

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The Black and Afro-Latina Queens of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ Discuss #BlackLivesMatter

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The drag queens on the latest season of RuPaul’s Drag Race discussed the #BlackLivesMatter movement in the previous episode and it was real. They talked about the ways they were active during the protests last summer and what it means to be a queer person of color in the U.S. today.

Kandy Muse gave the conversation an Afro-Latina perspective.

While the queens were putting on their makeup in the workroom, LaLa Ri from Atlanta, brought up the topic of the #BlackLivesMatter movement. New York’s “Dominican Doll” Kandy Muse was the first to speak on her involvement in the protests.

“Being an Afro-Latino from the south Bronx, when I see Black people being murdered by police, it just puts so many things into perspective,” Muse said. “Fighting for Black lives and all those things are very, very important to me.”

Symone reminded the other queens of George Floyd’s murder by the police.  

Symone, who hails from LA, reminded her season 13 sisters that the murder of George Floyd last May by the police is what sparked the protests throughout the country.

“It’s sad that he to- that that had to happen, but I’m happy that people are waking the f*ck up because it’s always been there,” Symone said.

As a Black queen, Symone spoke to the trauma that Black people were facing with video of George Floyd’s murder being replayed in the media.

“Even with [the] corona[virus] going on, I felt immediately compelled to be involved in protests here in Los Angeles because enough is enough,” Symone recalled. “Things need to change.”

Lala Ri put some light on Rayshard Brooks‘ murder by the police.

During the discussion, LaLa Ri brought up that the murder of Rayshard Brooks at a Wendys in Georgia happened very close to their home.

“It kind of just really hit me that I could easily be in that drive-thru, and there’s a situation where they can pull me over just because I look like I don’t belong in that type of car,” LaLa Ri said.

As LaLa Ri relived that realization, she got emotional talking about it on the show.

“You could just be a Black person in the world and you could just get killed for nothing,” the queen said in tears. “It’s scary that you could just be killed just because of the color of your skin.”

Olivia Lux, an Afro-Puerto Rican queen from New Jersey, also mentioned how Black trans women are being murdered at a high rate.

“Statically Black trans lives at the most at risk,” Olivia Lux said.

Tamisha Iman wrapped things up with the words of John Lewis.

Tamisha Iman, a Black queen from Georgia, evoked the words of late Georgia Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis to wrap up the conversation.

“Get in some good trouble!” the Georgia queen said in an empowering moment.

The clip was uploaded to RuPaul’s Drag Race YouTube channel on Feb. 1 in honor of Black History Month. Be watch the full video to see more of this necessary conversation.

READ: Denali is Serving Mexicana Representation on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’

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