Amplifying Voices: Stephanie S. Franklin, Esq.
July 8, 2016
by Guest Blogger: Stephanie S. Franklin, Esq.
I am writing these words to you with a tormented and infuriated soul. My heart hanging heavy watching, thinking and reflecting on the events of this week, prior months, years and centuries of the brutal murders of my people – African people. Without remorse or concern for Black lives and the continued public execution of my kin folk, I continue to hear words like – “White Lives Matter,” “Blue Lives Matter, “All Lives Matter.” Quite frankly this is offensive and is a clear indication of the lack of empathy and value for Black lives. The failure to address race in this country and its varied permutations degrades and erases Black lives is consistent and routine.
Murders of my Black brothers this week – Delrawn Small, Alton Sterling, Philando Castile – re-invoke my pain and the wrenching in my stomach of past events like the murders of Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Rekia Boyd, Jordan Davis, Black trans women, and the countless other murders that we have seen at the hands of police and other white murderers. These murders are a consistent reminder that Black lives really don’t matter – hence, why we have a Black Lives Matter movement! Many of us in this movement know that Black lives are not valued – we even know that hatred for African people permeates the DNA of our white oppressors and is transmitted generationally through ancestral memory. We’re clear. The question is – what do we do?
As human rights activists, many of us have committed our lives to improving the lives of Black people and we all come from a rich legacy of Black liberation movements over centuries. Today, we are faced with what appears to be insurmountable obstacles to recognize our humanity, dignity and and human right to self-determination. Murders at the hands of the police before our children, poisoning water in communities where we are the majority, lead in our homes, lack of access to healthy foods, psychotropic drugging of our children in foster care, stealing and disrespecting our sacred sites, under-resourcing our schools, mass incarceration, toxic dumping in our communities, theft of our culture and identity – are a few of the issues we face. So again, I ask the question, what do we do?
I am not completely sure at this point, but this is what I know. We are descendants of strong, brilliant and determined ancestors who have been inspirations of resistance, even in the most desperate times. Therefore, we MUST continue our work as a human rights activists. We MUST continue raising race as an integral issue and how it intersects with the experiences of African people at home and abroad – acknowledging and recognizing the distinct experiences and histories of descendants of enslaved Africans in the US, the Americas, and colonization in Africa. We MUST re-examine and re-think our strategies, and how they connect to local, national, regional and global movements for Black liberation. We MUST fortify our solidarity. We MUST demand reparations and the implementation of a national racial justice strategy and action plan consistent with the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action. We MUST demand that the US government, state and local governments, and private citizens and corporations be held accountable for human rights violations that impede, steal, and murder Black lives. We MUST continue our advocacy for African people – it is not a choice – it is a duty that WE ALL OWE to our African ancestors that perished in the deadly Trans-Atlantic crossing and the survivors who built the United States of America as free labor, and her descendants – the living!!!
I am calling out to ALL human rights activists involved in organizations, networks, coalitions, and individuals who fight for Black liberation and survival to mobilize and strategize on our next steps of action to save and protect our people! This is our post MAAFA reality and we must act! We are in the middle of the second year of the International Decade for People of African Descent. Concrete actions and strategies are critical right now! We are all doing great work around the Decade – I have no doubt, but collectively we have to address these issues or we will be no more. BLACK LIVES DO MATTER – LET’S MAKE IT A REALITY!!!
President & CEO, The Franklin Law Group, P.C.
Chair, Ubuntu Council (Member-Initiated Action Team of the US Human Rights Network dedicated to the International Decade for People of African Descent)
Co-Chair, Maryland Middle Passage Committee
Chair, Baltimore Coalition for Human Rights