This talk was given at the PeaceWorks/All Souls forum on Jan. 20, 2017, Inauguration Day.
Good morning! My name is Justice! I’m the Education Chairperson and a Core Organizer with
One Struggle KC. Thank you for inviting me to speak on this panel.
I’m sure that I don’t have to remind you of all of vile things that Donald Trump has said and done before, during, and after the election. We know that he is hostile and sexist towards women and the LGTBQIA community. We know that he discriminates against Muslims, and makes fun of disabled Americans. We know that he categorically believes that black people are lazy and that Mexicans are criminals and rapists. We have heard the tape of him joking about committing sexual assault, and we have seen the disgusting ways in which he responds to reporters and those seeking accountability on behalf of the American public.
For Donald Trump to be elevated to the highest office of the land is a slap in the face to all marginalized groups that have fought to make gains in positive directions. Certainly for those lazy Black folks, whose ancestors built America’s wealth on their bare backs, and their sons and daughters, who rally in the street when a cop kills yet another unarmed person.
The impact a Donald Trump presidency would have on social justice groups would remain the same. Our position has not changed. We have always been under attack.
Some of my white brothers and sisters are just awakening to our reality. Seeing for the first time what people of color have been saying all along.
We began in a defensive position. The African Holocaust killed millions of Blacks being transported to the Caribbean and the Americas for slave labor. We were under attack then!
During the Civil Rights movement, leaders were battered and beaten on the Edmund Pettus Bridge because they wanted equal voting rights. We were under attack!
Then the Black Power Movement, where J. Edgar Hoover declared that the free breakfast program for poor black children was the greatest threat to National Security and allowed the CIA’s secret cointelpro to infiltrate, attack and kill members of the Black Panther Party. We were under attack then!
Now, today, the Movement for Black Lives, where activists have been targeted and faced with charges such as lynching … the disgusting irony of a black woman having to fight such charges when the history of that trauma rests on the other side … trumped-up charges … no pun intended.
We have BEEN under attack.
Targeted for the entirety, poised to be America’s chattel, one way or another. Our most notorious leaders have either been assassinated, imprisoned for life, or have had to flee this country for safety.
We will remain a target as long as racist systems of oppression—that allow the Donald Trumps of the world to excel to the highest office without substance or credential—are in place.
In order to combat the Trump Agenda, we’re going to need active engagement. We need you to support our work.
Missouri has passed a law that would make school fights a felony. Completing the school-to-prison pipeline.
Missouri has introduced a bill that would make it a hate crime to assault a police officer … again, the irony!
Answer calls to action!!!! Show up!!!!
White Folks who want to do good work to advance the movement should connect with SURJ-KC. Showing Up for Racial Justice. Get educated on how to become an ally. Part of the movement requires that you commit to getting educated.
We need to understand why it’s not OK to shout “All Lives Matter” when we proclaim that Black Lives Matter.
We need you to understand why the “great” idea of having coffee with cops may seem happy and safe for you, but frustrating and traumatic for communities of color that face oppression and brutality from them.
Would you ask a battered woman to sit down and have coffee with her abuser so that they can work out their differences?
How to engage others? SURJ!
It is important to seek leadership from those who have been actively engaged in this work. It is important to honor the leadership of people of color who have laid the foundation for this work with their blood, bone, sweat and tears—those who have sacrificed title and position to advance the movement to this point.
We do this by listening and taking direction from people of color. We do this by learning to balance the scales that are uneven from the weight of oppression carried by Black people.
We do this by committing to becoming re-educated. We do this by speaking up and confronting bigotry.
Now is the time to put in the work. Now is the time for agitation. Now is the time to seek active engagement. Connect with local groups and commit!!
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere.
Editor’s note: Justice was asked, during the Q&A, to comment on police brutality. She said, “I’ve talked to people (in Kansas City) who’ve been beaten. We’ve engaged with the family of Ryan Stokes to seek justice after he was shot (fatally shot in 2013). The KCPD told his family he had to be shot in the chest. That was not the case.”