The Black Lives Matter movement has awakened a new generation of activists. In this stirring and insightful analysis, activist and scholar Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor surveys the historical and contemporary ravages of racism and persistence of structural inequality such as mass incarceration and Black unemployment. In this context, she argues that this new struggle against police violence holds the potential to reignite a broader push for Black liberation. F67 ISBN: Publication Date: From the civil rights and Black Power era of the s through antiapartheid activism in the s and beyond, black women have used their clothing, hair, and style not simply as a fashion statement but as a powerful tool of resistance.
Faith is the belief that certain outcomes will happen, and hope is the belief that they can happen. The work of faith is to actively surrender to forces unseen, to acknowledge that what is desired will come about, but by means you might never know — and this is difficult.
Faith will sometimes waver. Hope is the belief that our tomorrows can be better than our todays. When we talk about being hopeful for a future in which black bodies are not considered weapons, it is so easy to deride hope as a platitude, or even as an enemy of progress.
But hope can also be a driving force. On the one hand, a dream can be the fanciful whimsy of a child, free to explore any one of countless possible realities, completely unmoored from present-day circumstance.
But dreams have another, more actionable meaning.
Indeed, they can be a firm, dynamic vision of where you want to go. Hope is the precursor to strategy. It powers our vision of how to bring about a desired goal, and it amplifies our efforts.
I am not surrendering to luck, or a blind faith that things will just get better. Freedom is not only the absence of oppression, but also the presence of justice and joy. We are fighting to bring about a world we have not seen before.
We have never seen a world of equity, justice and joy. We are trying to create something new. And it is impossible to create something new in the absence of hope.
We did not invent resistance or discover injustice in August We exist in a legacy of struggle, a legacy rooted in hope. But hope is not magic. Hope is work. It was illegal to stand still on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri in August, September and October It was a rule, if one could even call it that, born of hubris and desperation.
The police were simply out of ideas for how to coax the swelling ranks of protesters off the streets.
So they thought they would wear us out. And before we knew it, we were walking, day and night. Being forced to walk day and night is one of the things I will never forget, a reminder that the law in practice is never neutral, that it can change at the whim of those in power, and that the battles our elders fought are not as far behind us as we had been raised to believe.
Before we ever saw or felt it, we heard the sound of the canister leaving the barrel of the gun — a sound between a large firework and a cartoon cannon — followed by a whiz as it shot through the air. My most vivid memory of that night is seeing a child, maybe five years old, frantically running, directionless and alone.
He seemed to notice first what I only realised moments later — that two canisters had fallen near us.
By the time I saw he was crying, he was swept up by a parent and I was stuck in a cloud. I tried to outrun the teargas, but I was surrounded — there were cars behind me and a gate to my side, and the gas was moving quickly.
Street medics assist protesting activists, because ambulances rarely, if ever, visit active protest sites.
I was one of eight people spending the better part of an afternoon learning how to flush my eyes out in the event of being teargassed, and how to properly assist those around me in distress. None of us had expected to make use of this information so soon.
We were told that teargas can fuse your contact lenses to your eyes. I considered removing mine, but in the end decided not to. Less than 24 hours later, I was putting my head in my shirt and running through smoke.
When I got through to the other side of the smoke, I uncovered my head and felt thankful that I could still see. But within a few seconds I was swept up in a crowd of protesters, all of us seemingly running for our lives.
The police, driving Swat vehicles and armed with rubber bullets, were chasing us up West Florissant Avenue, the main site of the protests.
They herded us in every direction, in their supposed effort to clear the street. It was like we were being hunted. Hours later, the Swat vehicles were driving down the streets with officers hanging off them, shining flashlights into parked cars.
They were still looking to round us up. I eventually made it back to my car, which I had parked on a side street. I knew I would have to drive down West Florissant to get to where I was staying that night, but once in the car, my only instinct was to hide.
It was hours before I finally drove away. Days later, I was out in the streets again, and four police officers informed me that I was walking too slowly; that I could not pace back and forth in a given area; that standing still was now illegal.
Those of us who were there remember the five-second rule as a defining characteristic of the beginning of this movement. We remember adapting to it and meeting it as a challenge.
Instead of tiring us out, it only strengthened our resolve. We would march all day and all night, and we would make the police do the same. I often wondered how it became so easy for the police to unilaterally create and enforce a set of rules in the name of public safety.
Why was it so easy for them to obscure the reality of why we were in the streets in the first place? I have read stories about search parties rounding up black men and women. I have seen photos of protesters bloodied for daring to march in politically inconvenient places. But I never thought that in an American city in , it would be illegal to stand still.
I never thought I would have to hide under my steering wheel to escape the police. I never thought I would learn to manoeuvre in teargas like I learned how to tie my shoelaces — awkwardly and slowly at first, and then with grace.