Is Wearing All Black the New Activism

i am sean bell

Photo courtesy of New York Times

Wear all black on Monday for the injustice verdict in the Sean Bell case Please pass this on to anyone who can receive a text.

I received this text message numerous times throughout the course of the weekend and again I ask “Is wearing all black the new activism”. Has wearing all black taken the place of such notable activism as the Montgomery Bus Boycott. I remember back when the Jena 6 movement was thriving and we were all wearing black as a means to show the masses our “black solidarity”. I participated and heard many say that they felt good walking into their corporate offices and seeing other people of color representing the injustice that was being served in Jena. But does our action stop there, does what we wear really signify that an injustice has been done?

So today I woke up and threw on my black shirt and my black Chuck Taylor sneakers in memory of the brother Sean Bell. I walked into my classroom and unlike that glorious Jena day, barely any people of color were wearing all black. What does wearing all black mean anyway; do the people who we want to see our solidarity even know that we are wearing this color to represent the fact that a brother was murdered by the NYPD. That yet again the NYPD walked out of a court of law not guilty of all charges. My own Constitutional Law professor had no idea who Sean Bell was and that this verdict had drastically affected the lives of many people. He was unaware that many young brothers and sisters had taken to the streets and were seeking Justice for the loss of yet another young talented black man. He definitely had no idea why one of his students had on black today; all he wanted to know was if I was familiar with the material that will be on his exam next week.

I checked through my usual news media outlets hoping that I would see something in the headlines about the injustice the Bell family was served this past Friday. Instead, I was inundated with news of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright and the Democrat Primary’s, but there was no sign of any measures that would be taken towards the Bell family finding JUSTICE. And why should their be, a brother is dead and we all go back to our regularly scheduled lives. More concerned with celebrity gossip than the fact that black men can be killed in this country and their murderers receive absolutely no punishment.

The NY Times had a brief article about this issue however, and it largely dealt with the few people who were outraged by the verdict and were protesting in Harlem yesterday. One of the brothers on the bull horn asked “why aren’t more people out here”. The days of marching and blocking traffic for a day or two didn’t work then and they will continue not to work now. All the police do is re-direct the traffic and the protest becomes more of a nuisance than a movement that affects change. So what my generation has come up with as a means of fighting injustice is wearing all black; then we are really fighting institutionalized racism and brutality, we’ll show em!

Wrong, we need a strategic effort on a variety of fronts to fight the injustices that are facing our people. I refuse to believe that we are as lazy as the Civil Rights Guard of Leadership paints us. No we are not lazy at all, we are the internet generation; the text message generation. All of that to say we have the fastest and often most effective modes of communication to get messages across to our peers and move in a organized manner. We have to fight these different injustices on many different fronts. The Judge who rendered the verdict; we have to find out if he was elected or appointed; if elected we make sure that those who are eligible to vote in that district show up in record numbers to relieve him of his position.

Let’s take it back to the boycott days since the loss of revenue is the only thing that makes politicians and businessmen understand that we are angry about something and are seeking some type of remedy. This shouldn’t be hard to do because we are spawning into a recession anyway and people are already strapped for cash. We need to find out exactly what businesses that if we stopped patronizing would affect Michael Bloomberg the fastest. Once those major businesses are affected they will call up their high powered friends ad say “hey we have to do something about this’ its affecting my pocket”! You see when when we start to use our creativity and organize our efforts we begin to fall upon the ears who really create change in our cities. Maybe then the NYPD will stop believing that it is perfectly fine and legal to kill young black men. But if all we are doing is wearing black; trust me the courts, the politicians, the police and definitely the law are not hearing our voices.

We need to tap into the resources in our communities who have the know how and ability to propose legislation for stricter monitoring practices over the police departments who brutalize communities of color. All cops are not the scum who murder and harass people of color so we need to reach out to those who are fed up with their colleagues behavior and off the record find out what we can do to upset their internal situation that will help us make the changes we wish to see. I could write on for days about different measures that we could take however my one voice will not create this change. Our collective voice will not change these scenarios but our collective voices coupled with our strategic collective actions will create this change. In memory of Sean Bell and all of the other forgotten fallen soldiers; please let’s Make It Happen!

ps. I will be at the Black and Male In America Conference the weekend of June 15 – 17 in Brooklyn, NY. I think we all need to be there!



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10 Responses to “Is Wearing All Black the New Activism”

  1. scratchatary Says:

    You are right in your assesement. I think a strategic strike should be done. Of course, like the bus boycott done years ago the pocketbook should be afftected. The days of people protesting is good, but it is a fleeting measure. I wrote Justice was Blind on Friday concerning the subject of Sean Bell and it affected me as it did you. The reason is that being a black man in America we are always hunted in some aspect. Before I go I’m in Dallas, Tx., and the cops doen here can be triggerhappy, as well. So who knows maybe we can do something. C-YA!!

  2. nativenotes Says:

    Thanks for your response brother. I am sure that this is a problem in every major city and we need to come together and find a means to rectify it. Just that quick a brother from Dallas is communicating with a brother on the East Coast. If we maximize our potential there is no way we can’t create change!

  3. FJ Says:

    The outcome in the Sean Bell trial was precipiated on multiple levels and must be addressed on multiple levels. I agree that a boycott is the answer. Boycotts have shown to be the most effective way in dealing with a problem. On just one level we need to boycott the media, STARTING WITH FOX NEWS

  4. Night Day Says:

    Let’s wear black, Let’s wear read, let’s march, Let’s yell and scream, But no one is saying call your congressman, call your senator, call as many offices as you can, flood their in boxes and mail with how you feel about the verdict. where is that talk

  5. stalherz Says:

    I agree with you about the economic pressure. That is the only way to do it. Perhaps if people in these neighborhoods stopped buying liquor and smokes, it would put economic pressure on not to mention uplifting the community.

  6. yourcynicalbruh, esq. Says:

    Boycotting and marching is so 60s! Times have change and therefore our tactics must evolve. Rather than a million black folks gathering in DC on the national mall or wearing all black, it would be much more efffective if you can get those same million people to each give $10. That 10M will go a long way in terms of buying, i mean lobbying, politicians to act in our best interest. If you dont play the game dont expect to win anything!

  7. FJ Says:

    Boycotting is playing the game because it shows our buying power. Lobbying is also effective. Any activity that shows and proves the value of our buying dollar is a plus.

  8. nativenotes Says:

    I concur with FJ!

  9. yourcynicalbruh, esq. Says:

    The problem with boycotting is that in today’s economy its ineffective. We live in global ecomony where multinational corporations own the rights to several brands and they sell their products across the globe. Companies have gotten smart and with the creation of subsidiarys, partnerships and other corporate entities its impossible to hurt their overall bottom line. Sure we can boycott GE but every time we watch what we’re doing on NBC nightly news, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot. Again we have to stay ahead of the curve because you can rest asure that the other side is.

  10. Curry Kid Says:

    Peace and Blessings.

    The fact that i am less than an hour (by car or train) from where the brother was executed and i just today heard about the call to wear black speaks volumes to me. People of conscience need to be able to make a collective statement regardless of the means of communication. I believe a comment was made about technology. Use that… A statement was made about multi-nationals owning half a particular industry. Do the knowledge on that. I am not going to say anyone is lazy, i honestly feel that there is enough justifiable rage surrounding the verdict in the case of Brother Bell… However, if we don’t communicate effectively and step up collectively, all the black clothing in the world will not communicate the message.

    How many thousands of people were in Jena to protest what they did to them youth? Along with that call was the call we all wear black… I could not make the trip, but the day of the protest i could count on one hand how many heads i saw wearing black that day. Most by coincidence. Was that because New Yorkers are lazy? We don’t care about the youth? No. To me its that the people who would show in the largest numbers are either not getting the message or don’t feel they can make a difference.

    I was just looking at a website that appears to be published by his family ( Maybe if we follow their lead in large enough numbers we can be more effective. I don’t claim to have all the answers, i just ask good questions. Hip Hop has the numbers, but that doesn’t matter if we can’t organize.

    Sean Bell Benefit Fund
    c/o Mitchell Law Office
    225 Broadway, Suite 1410
    New York, NY 10007
    or call 1-866-695-2992.

    One Love,
    Curry Kid

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