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Dream Defenders Statement on the Condemnation of M4BL Platform by Some Pro-Israel Groups

On Monday, the Dream Defenders along with 50 other organizations, representing hundreds of Black people across the country launched A Vision for Black Lives, an agenda that clearly defines policies, organizing tactics and resources to advance Black liberation. The platform included a call for the US government to divest from military expenditures and US aid to the State of Israel and instead, invest this war-making money towards building infrastructure to support Black and Brown communities in the US. Since our launch, some Zionist organizations have condemned the platform and have announced that they will cut all ties with the Movement for Black Live, going so far as to label some in the BLM movement anti-semitic.

Their response has made it all the more clear why we stand in solidarity with Palestine and with Black and Brown people around the world fighting for justice.

 

Those who have previously claimed to be allies of the Black lives matter movement have shown us that they are comfortable with our resistance so long as it fits within particular confines and restrictions. It is convenient to endorse black lives matter when it benefits you. And as long as we stay silent about Israeli apartheid, they will “stand” with Black liberation in the US. Now that our movement has taken a stand against all forms of white supremacy and oppression, Black lives no longer matter. We want no part in this quid pro quo form of politics. True solidarity does not come with strings attached.

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Sustain the Movement and Flourish With Us

Orlando. Istanbul. Bangladesh. Baghdad. Louisiana. Minnesota. Dallas.

This past month has left us speechless. We felt like we were waking up in a nightmare.  We found ourselves dazed, anxious and restless. Last week left us as worried and troubled and angry as we know each of you are. We tried to put our thoughts together in some meaningful way, tried to muster some powerful statement to inspire, agitate, bring hope. Alas, no words came to our rescue. These feelings overcome language.

So, last week we did what we have been doing for four years and will continue doing until we never have a week like last one again. We trained our organizing fellows. We rallied and held healing spaces in Miami, Broward, St Petersburg, and Gainesville. We supported similar action across the state. We knocked on doors in Opa Locka, FL and held a strategy session with our Miami leaders.

In short, we kept on organizing -- for our future, for our people, for our liberation.

 

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Who Will Cry Out For Orlando

My heart sits heavy in my chest and at times it feels hard to breathe. That wouldn’t be anyone’s first guess as I walk through each day since the tragedy the struck so many with a smile on my face and a little bit of light to share with the world. The reality of it all is there are 50 people who are gone, more who are injured, and the attack on them felt like a straight bullet into me. Being a queer, Cuban-Puerto Rican, brown womxn with heavy convictions made the attack in Orlando almost unbearable. As I got off of a plane in New York and walked out of La Guardia, I was bombarded by missed calls and text messages saying “WTF is happening in Orlando right now?” I had no idea. I was thousands of feet in the air with no service or access to any other part of the world but clouds and sky.

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(IN)DEPENDENCE DAY FOR PUERTO RICANS

On July 4, 1898, in the Central Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, the Reverend J. F. Carson read from the Holy Bible, "And Joshua took the whole land, and the land rested from war." He sermonized that "the high, the supreme business of this Republic is to end the Spanish rule in America, and if to do that it is necessary to plant the stars and stripes on Cuba, Porto Rico, the Philippines or Spain itself, America will do it." That same night, in the Presbyterian Church of Fifth Avenue, the Reverend Robert MacKenzie prophesied, "God is calling a new power to the front. The race of which this nation is the crown . . . is now divinely thrust out to take its place as a world power." Senator Albert J. Beveridge also saw a divine plan. "God has not been preparing the English-speaking and Teutonic peoples for a thousand years for nothing" he declared. "He has made us adept in government so that we may administer government amongst savages and senile peoples."

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Happy Independence* Day

Here at The Dream Defenders, we know that this holiday will always need an asterisk until the racial habits and oppression that are engrained in the DNA of this country are abolished. For as long as there has been oppression in this country, there has been clapback. From the ancestors Frederick Douglass and Phillis Wheatley to the young writers and orators of today, we express our anger and weave our path to liberation through our words.

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Debunk the zika virus and read 'Strange Seeds'

Strange Seeds

There is a strange affiliation between medicinal history and Black bodies in America.

That history contains the exploitation, abuse, and contributions of black bodies and black lives to “advances” in the creation and development of various treatments (e.g.,Henrietta Lacks, theTuskegee experiments, etc.) without any recognition. With recent reports of the Zika virus, that long felt fear and skepticism with regard to medicine and treatments resurfaces.

On February 3, 2016 Governor Rick Scott declared a public health emergency in four Florida counties. The initial report cited cases from Miami-Dade, Hillsborough, Lee, and Santa Rosa counties. The state of emergency was due to nine confirmed travel-related cases of the Zika virus. The Zika virus is a non-fatal, mosquito-borne disease that seemingly places the gravest of dangers to pregnant women of color and their offspring. There are other mosquito-borne illnesses that are debilitating and fatal--such as your dengue and malaria varieties. The Florida Department of Health’s approved responses for the reason behind the public health emergency point to being precautionary, getting out ahead of it, and containing any possible spread. The state of emergency is largely because of the link to poor pregnancy performance.

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month

The time for honest conversation about the innermost parts of ourselves has long since passed. May is Mental Health Awareness Month. There are countless think pieces, blog posts, articles and memes framing and reframing what it means and could mean to be Black in America. Innumerable excerpts are snatched from essays. Book chapters and research study conclusions are fragmented and cited to substantiate the creator’s theories and opinions.

 

To be Black in America is all too often to be silent about the things we should be loud about – even as we use our voices to selectively express dissatisfaction. The discomfort that is a derivative of our material conditions deserves a place at the table. Disturbances that often plague folks and don’t easily dissipate shouldn’t be kept from the light of processing and possible solution.

 

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We must be working on getting our people what we need all the while envisioning and enacting the future that we want.

The Abolinitionist Framework

I had heard about the Highlander Center, but I never knew just how integral it has been to the liberation movement. It is a place that energetically grounds itself in personal transformation as well as the transformation of our society as a whole. Leaning on history we see the sister I’d call the Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, Septima Clarke, and how she used the highlander space to teach former slaves how to pass literacy test so that they could vote under Jim Crow.  Organizing Black folks who could pass the literacy test had transformational effects on our society including  the creation of the CIO, the first inclusive union, which  was facilitated at the Highlander Center. The highlander is where people who are concerned with our condition in this country go to transform their lives, their values, their circumstances, their communities; it’s a place that transforms  the overall human experience in Amerikkka. Since its creation people have gone there to plot the revolution and dismantle the dominant white narrative.

 

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We had a team of radical educators create a curriculum that can teach children about revolutionary organizations.

In February and March, Dream Defenders engaged our base through a cultural art education project that focused on revolutionary organizations from around the world and highlighted their elements of REBELLION. It’s been an enlightening process for the organization and for the squaDDs to uncover how each of these revolutionary organizations have garnered power in the past to create transformational change.  It wasn't enough for us to create the artwork, we want to share this knowledge far and wide.  

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Patriarchy

To be honest patriarchy is still as abstract of a subject as it when I was first introduced to it. While I understand theoretically that Patriarchy is a system that values masculinity and men over women in a way that devalues us, exploits our labor, and systemically rewards and perpetuates masculinity as superior to femininity. Whether patriarchy rears it's head in my language when I say sorry excessively to white, entitled men at my hostess job, or reflects in the dollars and cents in my paycheck - it's presence is known. 

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