Dear Friends, Partners and Colleagues,
We recently sent a message out entitled Ferguson: Towards Building A Beloved Community. Despite trying to hold on to a glimmer of hope, many of us anticipated that the grand jury would return with a decision not to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of unarmed 18-year old Michael Brown. The pain and frustration of this decision is reflected in the fact that many took to the streets last night in Ferguson to express their outrage.
The Campaign for Black Male Achievement and Institute for Black Male Achievement continues to encourage all to exercise their constitutional right to turn their pain into peaceful action for change. In this vein we wanted to share more information on a growing movement we have partnered with called Blackout for Human Rights (Blackout). Blackout is a network of concerned artists, activists, and citizens who have committed their energy and resources to immediately address the staggering level of human rights violations against fellow Americans throughout the United States.
In collaboration with Color 0f Change and other organizations, Blackout is building a powerful network that to stand against human rights violations across the country. This Black Friday (November 28, 2014), Blackout for Human Rights is calling for a nationwide day of action and boycott against major retailers. Blackout organizers believe that the conversation around human rights and economic justice will if enough of us act together. We agree!
Blackout members are demanding an immediate end to the brutal treatment and inhumane killings of our loved ones. Similarly, they are demanding that working Americans earn enough to live their lives with dignity. The fights for civil rights and economic justice are two branches of the same tree. Dr. King once said, “What good is having the right to sit at a lunch counter if you can’t afford to buy a hamburger?” And today, more than ever, the levers of power – civic, corporate, industrial, [and] capital – are tied to one another and to our economy.
How can you be part of this national movement?
1) Show Our Worth: We ask those who stand with us to refrain from supporting Black Friday retail sales. The US economy depends on our shopping, especially during the holiday season. But the lives of our brothers and sisters are worth more than the dollars we can save on holiday gifts. If victims of police violence and folks in poverty cannot shop this Friday, why should we? If we allow heinous acts of murder to go unchecked, why would we want a big screen TV to watch it all unfold? Let’s demonstrate our unity. Take this single day off of shopping to #showyourworth: http://www.
2) Attend #BlackoutBlackFriday launch initiatives and solidarity actions: Keep up to date on Blackout launch activities in your area. Innovative programming will take place in urban centers across the country, including Ferguson/St. Louis, New York City, and Los Angeles. Film screenings, staged script readings, teach-ins and civil disobediences will spring up all over the country, join a solidarity event here: http://fergusonaction.com and http://blackfridayprotests.org
3) Stay involved: This is just a launch. Return to UnitedBlackout.com to find information on your rights, voter registration, civil engagement, service opportunities and Blackout events beyond Thanksgiving 2014. Black Friday is a day when we all come together to show the power that we have to create real change in this country.
(Rashid Shabazz is a Program Officer at the Campaign for Black Male Achievement, an Open Society Foundations initiative)