On Defending the Dream until it is Made Real
I am writing this week to remind myself and anyone who might read here that the passage of time does not make the circumstances of last week’s blog any less immediate – any less critical than they were. Racism and all other forms of social oppression are not gone. The violence – physical, emotional, intellectual, physical – continues daily. Please listen to this. Linten in yourself. Listen in the experiences and profound insights of other people. People like screen actor Romany Malco who broke his silence with an article today entitled A Message to Trayvon Sympathizers. Malco opens with these words.
I haven’t touched on the Trayvon Martin issue because race matters in this country are the paralysis of the American people. To constructively discuss Trayvon would require empathy, introspection and an understanding of America’s social and economic history. This is why the open forums we have seen thus far seem to fuel more ignorance and bias than reasonable debate.
To be brutally honest, the only reason people are even aware of Trayvon Martin is because it became a topic within mainstream news and pop culture. Meaning: News directors saw it as a profitable, sensational story. Hundreds of blacks die annually in South Side Chicago without even a blurb.
Yesterday, my sister who lives in Gainesville, Florida told me of the march that happened there on Saturday. At noon on Saturday all over the country, marches were happening to raise and sustain attention, to call again for social justice for ALL.
On Saturday morning, as people gathered on Florida sidewalks, my sister was acting as police liaison. She talked with the officers there to tend the rally and march and they told her the rules they’d be enforcing – mostly about safety. My sister let them know that the crowd was interested in peaceful protest but mentioned that if the numbers really grew, they might have trouble remaining on the sidewalk only, spilling over onto the street.
That was that. Noon arrived and, by then 200 people were gathered and ready to march. Just then a number of police on motorcycles pushed through the crowd. To the surprise and encouragement of the assembly, these officers were charged with providing police escort, closing one lane of traffic so there was plenty of room for the procession.
I’m not sure this is what happened around the state of Florida or the other sites of protest across country on Saturday, but I know this is big. It is good.
It fits with the “Dream In” at the Florida state capitol where people have been occupying public space since the day after the decision in the Trayvon Martin murder case. The primary organizing unit behind this gathering is called The Florida Dream Defenders. This is a bold, visionary and wise activist group established days after Trayvon Martin was killed in February of 2012. I hope you’ll check them out. https://www.facebook.com/UFDreamDefenders
For this record and for all others willing to pass the word I’m ending here with the words they offer in explanation of what they are about. The words of these Florida students and youth carry messages direct and clear — in the spirit of listening, in the spirit of reminding us that, even as days pass, there is no diminishment in the urgency of this activism and in the spirit of these inspiring young people and their supporters in Florida who have central to their mission, “Loving our brothers & sisters. Protecting each other. Combating racism and discrimination in Florida and across our communities with love and peace.”
The Dream Defenders are diverse students & youth activists from across the state of Florida who fight to end the criminalization of our communities.
We defend freedom.
We defend the Peoples’ power to determine the destinies of our own communities.
We believe in acknowledging and condemning racism and hate whenever and wherever it occurs.
We defend the right of all to a quality education.
We defend the right of all to live lives free of police brutality, racial profiling, and mass detention and incarceration.
We defend the right of all to life, liberty, and happiness with whomever they choose.
We believe that the power of nonviolence, love and unity will always triumph over racism and hate.
We will not rest, until victory is won.
The Dream Defenders are intent on to social change by nonviolent civil disobedience and direct action, while creating a sustainable network of youth and student leaders to take action on issues that impact our communities. We fight the criminalization of our generation. We develop youth–training them to organize in their own communities; creating real social change, and we are dedicated to supporting other movements that seek to achieve equal human rights through nonviolence.
Our mission is to train and organize youth and students in nonviolent civil disobedience, civic engagement, and direct action. We will confront the sources, sponsors, and supporters of the criminalization of our communities.
We are committed to:
• Nonviolent civil disobedience
• Strategic direct action
• Loving our brothers & sisters
• Protecting each other
• Combating racism and discrimination in Florida and across our communities with love and peace