What's Next After All The Marches? Organize.

Since I wrote "Why I Do Not Support The Women's March on Washington," in November, many people have contacted me wanting guidance on whether or not they should attend, so let's get to it. 

The answer is quite simple. If you want to go, you should go. If you don't want to go, you shouldn't. Make whatever decision you'd like, which is something I've advocated for since the very beginning.

However, after the marches are over,  people should seriously consider the following questions: 

  • What will you commit to do after the march? 
  • Do you know which organizations get funded and which ones don't? Why? 
  • When you donate, do you know what it's being spent on? 
  • What types of people are being given opportunities to speak? People from that community or people outside of that community? 
  • How and why do certain issues become top priorities for who and why? 
  • Which strategies worked and didn't work in the past? The organization you trust should be able to explain this and if they can't, you should reevaluate your commitment. 

These are questions that we should always asking ourselves and if we can't have dialogue about it, then what's the point? 

my concerns with the organizers claiming to represent me from a viral Facebook event is not about "personal politics" or "call-out culture" -- both of these terms support white supremacy and have been created to dodge accountability because conforming to the status quo is much easier and more comfortable than challenging it. 

Despite the cooptation of the historic 1997 Million Woman March by Dr. Phile Chionesu (featured below), this is actually quite bigger than the name. It's more than recruiting women of color. It's about principle and erasure of work that black women already did.

Additionally, structural and institutional racism did not start with Donald Trump and in fact, it is ingrained into our entire political system. Racism may not have been real to people who have had the privilege of not dealing with it, which ultimately means these people have been ignoring what Black people have been saying since our very existence.

This is why it' important to give credit where credit it is due. to Black people, especially black women. This is what Dr. Chionesu did and she deserves recognition for her efforts.   

Case in point, the Baltimore Uprising took place in 2015 and there has been little change in our communities, a predominantly Black city. Where was Pantsuit Nation for Black women and girls when our city was on fire? North Ave still looks the same. The officers who were involved in the death of Freddie Gray got off free and the performance activists who came here to take savior-complex selfies for social media are gone. Sure, the consent decree was filed in January, but if you know the history, you know we've got a long way to go. 

What I'm trying to say is..this is real life. This is serious. These are Black people's lives at stake. I have a right to demand more because my ancestors paved the way for me to do so. 

Marching is a tool, not a goal. If you have no plan before and after the march, it will not be sustainable. It will merely just be a memory and that won't be powerful enough to overcome ANY racist administration. Solidarity that is not connected to concrete investment in Black grassroots collective enterprises and organizations is exploitation.

Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow

Building a Movement to End the New Jim Crow

Whether it's in office spaces or in living rooms, Black women and their communities have been doing work before and they'll likely never get asked to be on the cover of Vogue Magazine. 

Some talk, others tweet, but there are people who do work every single day even when the cameras are turned off. The success of individuals don't equate to the masses. 

Ignoring power dynamics in mainstream feminism or women's rights generally is racist, unproductive and one of the many reason why it does not resonate to the masses suffering. Overall, if Trump being elected was shocking, it's because you were not listening. 

Grassroots work is not sexy, but the revolution will not happen on Facebook live. Don't talk about social justice if you're not ready to call out discriminatory systems that sometimes even YOU benefit from.

Since the Baltimore Uprising and especially now after the election results, I've been thinking a lot about what I am actually doing to make a difference.. While I am very proud of the work I've done so far, I can do better. In fact, we all can do better as advocates. 

Overall, if you want to march to represent inclusion, by all means, stand in your truth. But afterwards, if the current social, political and economic state and conditions of Black people continue, be bold enough to stand up and say enough is enough because you know what's real outside of the catchy buzzwords and phrases that claim we are all the same. In theory we are, but our current laws, systems and institutions prove otherwise. That's it. No magic. No tricks. 

If you want my recommendations for Black-led efforts that promote autonomy in Baltimore, please take a moment to support (donate, volunteer, etc) the list below. These organizations believed black lives mattered before it became a hashtag:

I'll also include a list of a few of my favorite organizing resources: 

I appreciate all those who have been supportive along the way.  I hope this helps. 

Peace, 

Brittany T. Oliver 

Baltimore Corps

Baltimore Corps

"I come from a small close-knit family that taught me how to stand up for myself. My mother and grandmother raised me - That’s where it all began.

Throughout my work, I’ve learned a lot about what it means to make a difference. It’s about activating people to actually do something before and after the march. It’s about working to improve the social, political and economic conditions of our communities. It’s about setting a higher standard for what it really means for my people to be free. 

I’m well aware of the powerful psychological influences the media has on what we think about the value of Black life in America and it’s important not to downplay its effect.

If you know Black history outside of the two pages we’re given in most history books, you should know our lives didn’t begin and end with slavery.

The assumption is often that our communities can’t do for themselves. There are people who write books and think pieces about Black communities without ever stepping foot in them. Why? Because our suffering is profitable for issues and industries of all kinds.

Instead of working to dismantle oppressive systems that work to erase us, Black people have merely become subject matters of society.

As advocates, we should always be asking ourselves, how can we do better? How can we check and use our privileges to funnel resources to those most impacted? How can we build a table instead of waiting to be asked to sit down at one?

Personally, my goal is to uplift the voices of Black women and find ways to shift power their way. It’s time to change the conversation and take back our narrative about what it means to fight for our rights as women. Because if I'm not working towards justice, then I'm just working to maintain order." - Brittany Oliver

Reposted from Baltimore Corps

Rest in Peace Hue

Rest in Peace Hue

On Friday, August 5, my uncle, David Lamont Hill a.k.a Hue, was murdered in West Baltimore. 1618 McCulloh St is the location of where he was last sitting and took his last breath

There are many people who don't know this, but Old West Baltimore is where I am from, it’s where my family is from. Although we moved from this neighborhood years ago, my uncle's heart never left the community that raised him. His roots are there, our roots are there and they will be forever. At the same time, how am I supposed to bear the bullet wounds of my uncle and still continue to have the strength to fight so hard for black lives? 

Nothing has burned my heart so much like the emptiness of losing him. There is no greater pain than this, but I will continue to carry his wounds until my family is granted justice.

1618 McCulloh St, Baltimore, MD

1618 McCulloh St, Baltimore, MD

Morgan State Vibes...

Morgan State Vibes...

Introducing the 2016 fellows of the Benjamin Quarles Research Institute at Morgan State University. Today, Dr. Natasha C. Pratt-Harris and her students interviewed me for a discussion about the intersections of race, class and gender regarding state sanctioned police violence for scholarly research. They are awesome students and I'm glad I was able to spend my evening with them.