Gabriel Bryant on the need for the black community to take ownership of all the systems and institutions that affect it.
Philadelphia is the poorest of the country’s largest cities. We continue to hear it in the news, but we see no cure. So I think we are at a breaking point for many poor people, who face daily challenges to provide for their families, especially in the context of national unemployment rates and the high number of people of color. unemployed. .
We also have a tipping point because people see that we don’t necessarily have to look to Eric Garner or Mike Brown; we also have our own stories here. Activists on the ground in Philadelphia have been organizing around police brutality for years – going back to Brandon Tate-Brown, who was killed by police about six years ago; to David Jones, killed by police about three years ago; and our elders know other names. So we have seen an accumulation of emotions spill over into the streets.
Being black in Philadelphia has always been great. To be black in Philadelphia is joyful. Being black in Philadelphia is the old ones who do the bop at the party. Being Black in Philadelphia celebrates culture at block parties. Being black in Philadelphia means knowing that you are likely to have artists and activists in your family. To be black is wonderful. It is the oppressive systems that have been engaged in the war against blacks that we must identify and combat.
Being black in Philly has always been great. It is the oppressive systems engaged in the war against blacks that we must fight.
When I think about what structures we should be putting in place and what Black Philly should look like in the near future, to me it’s our ability to own and operate every system that we are engaged in. This means that we would see equity in education, and we would own and control the way our people are taught. It means examining food apartheid and involving more black communities in community gardens.
I think it also means economic justice for black businesses. I’m not just talking about black people who run an LLC or a small clothing business, but who are actually at the forefront of making these things.
All black lives – and the myriad ways we present ourselves in the world – must be centered and have a stake and a voice in any change that occurs in black communities.
As for our allies and our accomplices in this work, they have a very important job to do in their own neighborhood. They have to involve people in Roxborough, in the Northeast, in South Philadelphia and, yes, even in the counties, because that’s where we see some of the hindsight in moving forward. And even though we say white people should talk to whites, black people should talk to black people too, because many of us have uncles, fathers, mothers, sisters and children who disagree. or not believe in progressive programs that will serve us best.
Right now, I think activists should definitely be pushing the boundaries. I think we should say that no conversation is too extreme, no idea is too deep. I think we really should use a strong sense of radical hope and radical imagination, because for many of us now is the time for us to put into practice what we’ve been thinking about for years.
Posted under the title “This Should Embody Economic Fairness and Black Joy” in What Should Being Black in Philly Look Like? article in the August 2020 issue of Philadelphia cream magazine.