Why We Need BLM More than Ever

Four years ago, #BlackLivesMatter resonated with millions as a hashtag created by myself, Alicia Garza, and Opal Tometi in response to the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the killing of Black youth Trayvon Martin. Innumerable marches, protests, sit-ins, interviews, presentations, speeches, and teach-ins later, BLM has developed into a national and international network of Black people and our allies committed to Black liberation and the struggle against white supremacist and patriarchal violence. 

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essaysJennifer Kotting
Lorrell, Gary, IN Chapter, Black Lives Matter

Our collective Black Joy is probably best described by our end-of-meeting ritual. We all stand in a close circle and someone begins by saying a few words about how they are feeling in the moment. After sharing, they place their right hand on the back/shoulder of the person next to them and say, 'I got your back.' They leave their hand there, and the next person takes their turn until we make our way around the whole circle. At the end of this ritual, we are all connected physically and say out loud, together, 'I got your back.' It is incredibly affirming to love on each other consistently in every meeting.

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quotesJennifer Kotting
Aislinn, Chicago, IL Chapter, Black Lives Matter

We celebrate Black resiliency and ingenuity, which have allowed our people to survive amidst state repression, terror, and violence. We reaffirm our children's right to play, to create and laugh free from state violence by hosting play-ins, in honor of children killed by the police - such as Tamir Rice and Aiyana Stanley-Jones. Celebrating Black Joy is part of reaffirming our humanity against a system designed to deny our right to live.

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quotesJennifer Kotting
Jonathan, Chicago, IL Chapter, Black Lives Matter

We celebrate Black Joy by reaffirming our humanity and the lives of those the state attempts to erase and silence. We celebrate the children left behind by state violence and police killings with birthday parties, BBQs, art, poetry, and song. We manifest Black Joy by being with each other and by being proud and carefree. It is not about ignoring the issues, but about finding joy and showing love to each other always.

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quotesJennifer Kotting
Miski, Minneapolis, MN Chapter, Black Lives Matter

Our chapter celebrates Black Joy by creating space to spend time and manifest joy with each other. We've taken day trips to float down the river, camped up North, attended Beyonce concerts, hosted poetry nights, and put together cookouts in the park. We are learning all the time how to create more joy and happiness. That is what will sustain us in the long run, because our resilience as a people is rooted in our joy. And not only do we need it - we deserve it.

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quotesJennifer Kotting
Kezia, Detroit, MI Chapter, Black Lives Matter

We like to celebrate Black Joy daily at every meeting. We might have 90-second dance parties, and sometimes I will bring a bottle of wine. We just chartered a Black Arts committee. Arts are a huge part of what we do, and Detroit has a history and legacy of art and music, so that is something we wanted to honor. It will be a key pillar moving forward, and a pillar that allows us to incorporate and create more Black Joy.

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quotesJennifer Kotting
Michael, Denver, CO Chapter, Black Lives Matter

We take time to celebrate each other and our victories. We uplift students graduating, people organizing, and whenever Black people are fighting for liberation. The work can be depressing and all the negativity presses in from all sides, but we find joy in spite of that and are joyful as a form of resistance against oppression.

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quotesJennifer Kotting