A Member’s Statement of Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter
By: Suhaylah Hamzah
Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, Inc. strives to develop and empower culturally-engaged women by creating inclusive communities, cultivating diverse collaborative relationships, and serving as catalysts for promoting multicultural awareness in local and global communities. In this capacity, we provide a platform for our membership to share and express this mission with the world. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority, Inc.
To begin my reflection on “recent events”, I’d like to start by saying that as a Sister of Delta Xi Phi Multicultural Sorority Inc. I know that and stand with #BlackLivesMatter.
Why? Because I matter. And every single day of my life, since my inception onto this plane of existence, the society I live in has shown me time and time again that I don’t. From degrading my integrity as a woman, to sterilizing my cultural identity with White Beauty Standards, on top of demonizing my so-called “religious beliefs” as being a terrorist group – the list can go on an on. My entire existence, is and has always been a threat to society – American society most arguably.
So instead of giving a long drawn out “think” piece of why my Blackness matters in a world of diversity and how I joined a Multiculturally based organization built on debunking racism. I’ve decided to continue my reflection with my sisters to educate through multicultural awareness like we stand for. However, in order to properly educate requires people who are willing to learn. Hopefully anyone who is willing to overcome their prejudice and ignorance in the situation of Black Lives Matter, will read on.
If you are not one for reading long pieces, please take 15 minutes to watch this video called #WhatNow instead. Excuse the profanity in the video.
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As a brief synopsis, I will go over the beginnings of “American” Society/Culture . If you have follow up questions/points, you can either contact me or do your own research based off of what I cited.
Society: “a group of people involved in persistent social interaction, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or social territory, typically subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations.” -Wikipedia
Based off of what we were provided about American History through schooling; in 1492, this country was discovered (stolen) by a group of Europeans (Christopher Columbus & Crew) who were exiled from their own country and settled on American soil and the nation in which we know of, was forcibly built on the backs of Natives & Africans; the people who are commonly known as Black & Brown People / PoC. What is commonly deduced from this history, is that Black & Brown people were brutalized, raped, desensitized from their culture, and killed into chattel slavery (1619).
- Law: A movable article of personal property.
- Any article of tangible property other than land, buildings, and other things annexed to land.
- A slave.
This kind of slavery reduced people – human beings – to being no more than property. The inception of the United States of America was built on this; the looting of people from their homes, their families, their culture, their entire civilization – just to create wealth and commerce. To protect this property, a society was mandated to serve the citizens (European Settlers) by retrieving their property. This society was known as the Slave Patrol and trickled down to what we know today as, Police or Cops.
Europeans, who are now claiming Americanism after the trickery and slaughtering of the original people, used the Africans & Natives to farm their stolen land, create their medicines, build their structures, and literally rape them of their Language, Pride, and Culture. They accomplished this through Physical & Mental torture. This continued on generations after generations, leaving the original people incapable of passing along their culture to their children or proper knowledge of the English language because slaves weren’t allowed to learn, read, or write. Therefore, all the documents regarding this new found nation (laws, statutes, bills, articles, “rules”, etc.) were foreign to the common slave.
The comprehensive Negro Act of 1740 passed in South Carolina made it illegal for slaves to move abroad, assemble in groups, raise food, earn money, and learn to write English (though reading was not proscribed). Additionally, owners were permitted to kill rebellious slaves if necessary.
Based off of what they (the same people who didn’t allow us to learn, read, & write) told us, is that in 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation was implemented, slavery was abolished, and now – African people, who were kidnapped from their nation and given the titles of Negro, Black, Colored, & African-American – are told they are “Free”. Free in a foreign place, with no formal identity or education. The Proclamation however, didn’t free all slaves. Nor did it really abolish slavery. It only applied to the states that were in rebellion of the Union. Two years later, 1865, the Thirteenth Amendment was ratified and slavery/involuntary servitude was abolished, except for punishment as a crime.
Penal labor in the United States, when intended as a form of slavery or involuntary servitude, is explicitly allowed by the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This form of legal slavery is only allowed when used as punishment for committing a crime.
Now, Black & Brown people (People of Color) are pretty much left to fend for themselves. Find land that hasn’t been settled on or bought. Build homes for themselves and their families. All while trying to protect their lives from the dangers of European (White) people who still practiced slavery, hated PoC (white supremacists), and were still policing for slaves. With the 13th Amendment not FULLY abolishing slavery, PoC were wrongfully policed and accused, charged, and sentenced to prison – still forced to work, now at a much lower cost for white supremacists. Which still continues on today.
In the United States, the Black Codes were laws passed by Southern states in 1865 and 1866, after the Civil War. These laws had the intent and the effect of restricting African Americans’ freedom, and of compelling them to work in a labor economy based on low wages or debt. Black Codes were part of a larger pattern of Southern whites trying to suppress the new freedom of emancipated African-American slaves, the freedmen.
Now I know you’re all thinking, “what about the 14th & 15th amendment?“. Well that’s where we get into this colorful language of who is actually considered a people or a citizen. Along with the loopholes like literacy tests, polls, and more, that prevented PoC from being Free. So let’s fast-forward to 1920s when mass culture became a thing and places like Tulsa, Oklahoma (aka. Black Wallstreet) introduced a slew of problems to Western Culture & Finances. In 1929, the ‘white’ Wall Street crashed and the Great Depression hit, exposing the government for not having any gold or silver to back the money. Now the government orders that the citizens give all their gold to the government “for the betterment of the nation’s economy” and then they started taking money from an international bank known as The Federal Reserve, who creates money out of thin air and established million dollar banks off of “credit” – promissory notes – (aka. I Owe You’s). Along with other social programs in this “New Deal” that changed the American Economy. So what is now the collateral backing the U.S. currency? You guessed it; the people, slaves, now more than just PoC. Everybody.
H.J. Res. 192, approved by President Roosevelt on June 5, 1933, provided that obligations payable in gold or specific coin or currency are contrary to public policy, and that those obligations could be discharged dollar for dollar in legal tender. After that resolution was adopted, currency of the United States could not be converted into gold by United States citizens, but the Treasury would convert dollars into gold for foreign governments as a means of maintaining stability and confidence in the dollar.
Now let’s fast forward to the 1960s, when racial tension and the fight for equality are predominantly higher now than ever before and the Civil Rights Movement begins to come to a “resolution”. People like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was at the forefront of this movement in trying to officially abolish slavery and the poor treatment of Black people through the Civil Rights Act. Which then began to encompass not only Black People, but Women, Disabled, and the LGBT+ community.
This act, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964, prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for the integration of schools and other public facilities, and made employment discrimination illegal. This document was the most sweeping civil rights legislation since Reconstruction.
Unfortunately, this act only ended discrimination on the surface level, it did not eradicate it from all the hearts of men. So Black people were still facing racial discrimination by being spit on and kicked out of schools & businesses, as well as beaten and mutilated by white supremacists groups like the KKK and the Police force. Following this integration and after his famous “I Have A Dream Speech”, on April 4th, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. Later, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who everybody knows was tapping the phones of MLK and planting evidence on him, publicly claimed they investigated the shooter, who was said to be James Earl Ray, and took him down. A few years before, 1966, black people were already tired, fed up, and wanted change. So the Black Panther Party was formed.
otherwise known as the Black Panther Party (BPP), was established in 1966 by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. The two leading revolutionary men created the national organization as a way to collectively combat white oppression. After constantly seeing black people suffer from the torturous practices of police officers around the nation, Newton and Seale helped to form the pioneering black liberation group to help build community and confront corrupt systems of power.
As the BBP started to grow. The power structure of the few in control began to shake. The Black Panther Party not only encouraged Black Power, but power to ALL people. But based off what “they” told us, is that the Black Panther Party was a Black Extremists/Terrorist group. The growth of this idea spread amongst all people, so the masses movement for self reliance and human rights movement became a serious problem for “them”. People like J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, was part of “them” and feared the BPP and any organization built on the liberation of Black people, so he created COINTELPRO. This is public documentation in FBI records.
a secret operation, to discredit black nationalists groups. The Counterintelligence Program’s purpose was to “expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize” black nationalists’ activities. Hoover feared any growth of the movement and especially feared young white allies who united with black activists to support the movement. Through COINTELPRO, Hoover found ways to track, stalk and dig up information on the party, including planting FBI Informants throughout the party. One of whom happened to be William O’Neal, who was the bodyguard for prominent Black Panther member Fred Hampton.
COINTELPRO led to the destruction of predominantly Black & Brown Communities. This program was the leading program of the War On Drugs when they introduced crack and cocaine into the Black ghetto’s of America. After the FBI teamed up with the Police, predominantly ran by members of the KKK, to dismantle the BPP through the murders of the members and the introduction of the drugs in the community, Black people were left again with the continuing problem of NO Freedom.
Now let us fast forward to PRESENT DAY. Black & Brown people are still being unjustly targeted by Police officers, murdered in the custody and by the hands of Police officers, and are highly discriminated against and often murdered by White Vigilante’s – with no formal indictments or proper sentencing for their public executions. So in turn, Human Rights movements like Black Lives Matter was created. It is a testament to say that over the last 400 years, Black Lives didn’t matter and still don’t matter now, because there has been no justice served in the action of aiding Black Lives.
Is saying Black Lives Matter saying All Lives don’t matter? – Of course not, it’s highlighting an issue on Black Lives not mattering.
But #BlueLivesMatter? – 1.) The hashtag #BlueLivesMatter is the epitome of erasure, racism, and downright plagiarism. 2.) The only Blue people I know of are Smurfs. 3.) The life of police officers isn’t being ignored when we say #BlackLivesMatter, it’s only pointing out the injustice in cases of PoC vs Police Officers.
And when we, as members of a Multicultural Organization, brand ourselves with the principles of Advancing Women Through Higher Education, Increasing Multicultural Awareness, Community Service, Sisterhood, and Friendship – we have to ask ourselves everyday, are we living up to this life-time commitment? And how can we not take a stance in Solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter? Are we living up to the standards of rituals? Are we living up to the oath we all took? Like Police Officers, we took an oath. If we’re not standing up on this worldwide issue as a whole, then what are we really doing as a multicultural society?